In Immigration, History is Repeating Itself
Last week I started reading a very interesting book entitled Immigration Law Stories, which tracks over a century of immigration history in the United States. One thing that was apparent: that in two hundred years the arguments from the anti-immigrant camp have not changed. I was astonished by the parallels and the similarities between the rhetoric used at the time the first anti-immigrant laws were being enacted to the arguments being advanced today to limit the rights of immigrants in the United States.
The book discusses the first laws, the Chinese Exclusion Acts, which were aimed at the Chinese population, which were according to the laws’ proponents uneducated and unable to follow the American way of life, because of their ideal which were un-American. The book talks about several seminal cases in the field of immigration law, and I will discuss two of them in this post.
The laws passed in this era, prohibited people of Chinese dissent from benefitting from the American way of life. They were forced to register, much like the special registration program of recent history, and without the registration, the would be unable to return to the United States, even though they had lived there for decades. Without that registration, they would be interred in hard labor camps without that registration. The era witnessed two seminal cases in immigration law, which still affect us until today: Wong Wing v. United States, 163 U.S. 228 (1896) and U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark,