Restrictionist Policy, Mexican Labor, and Immigration Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:24:05
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The article on Jewish refugees, Mexican guestworkers and administrative politics vividly describes the immigration policies that the United States followed during the turn of the twentieth century.  A cursory reading of the article would show what type of policy regime the United States followed with regards immigration and the factors that affected the same.  The article also depicted the different treatments towards Southern and/or Latin American immigrants, more specifically Mexicans, and European and/or Asian immigrants, more specifically Jewish Germans.  This paper is a summary of the article, focusing on the two abovementioned topics.

            The United States immigration policy during the turn of the twentieth century was coined to be a two-tiered bureaucracy.  The first layer was the new State Department and consular officials employed exclusionary powers to all but shut down European and Asian immigration.  The second layer was administered by the Labor Department, which was characterized by the legal and illegal immigration of southern and Latin Americans, more specifically the Mexicans.  This second layer was actually described as an iron triangle, illustrated by southwestern growers, immigration bureau officials, and powerful congressional committees dominated by southern and western conservatives.

            This two-tiered immigration regime was actually a result of the rise of the World War I protectionist state, wherein there was a need for self-defense against foreigners since they were considered as dangerous and/or inferior.  This protectionist regime is highlighted by the Passport Control Act of 1918 wherein aliens are required to obtain a visa from consular officials abroad before they were allowed to enter the United States.

  Note however that despite the end of the war, there was a move to continue implementing the Passport Control Act of 1918 as the country is still vulnerable to national security threats.  This law actually complemented the Immigration Act of 1917 and both previous laws were in turn supported by the 1924 Quota Act wherein inspections overseas where done prior to embarkation for the United States.

            The restrictionist or nativist regime being discussed by the article was illustrated by two examples.  The first example is one for the first layer, or the shutting down if immigration to Europeans and Asians.  In fact, this shut down affected not only workers but refugees as well.  With the rise of Nazi Germany in Europe, and ideas of anti-Semitism spreading fast, many German Jews and Germans who opposed the Nazi Government were seeking asylum, to protect themselves from the Nazis.

However, there seemed to be an unmistakable prejudice against the Germans and the Jews, bolted by an executive order in 1930 which barred aliens who were likely to be of public charge (or those wage earners who are coming to the United States without means of support).  There was a move to loosen this strict executive order by allowing bonds for entering refugees, which was actually ineffective since this was a double barrier for the refugees who were seeking asylum:  they needed a bond to enter the United States and yet the Nazi Government did not allow them to take capital out of the country.

True, it was claimed that the idea of asylum as the special commitment of the American people.  And yet the article had enumerated a couple of reasons why despite the special commitment, the entrance of refugees cannot be as lax as those of Mexicans since refugees will only be a public charge, and attention should be paid to the many citizens of the United States who are homeless, unemployed and are struggling as well.  And yet another irony occurs, the strict policy was only on the German Jews and not on the British who were seeking refuge in the United States, and granting visas to Chinese immigrants, justified only by courting alliance with the Chinese during the war.

The complete opposite of the experiences of the Jewish refugees were the Mexican workers.  This is actually the second tier of the regulatory policies on immigration by the United States government.  As compared to the European immigrants, the Mexican immigrants had an easier time entering the United States.  Despite the increase in illegal immigration due to inefficient and unmonitored security of the Canadian and Mexican borders, which was blamed on the lack of funds, lack of men and lack of facilities to effectively guard the borders of the United States, there were more legitimate reasons why the Mexican workers were easily granted immigration into the country.

  One reason is that there is a need for unskilled workers.  Nativist and restrictionist politicians believed that the reason why Americans are being sent to school is so that they will not do the back-breaking work that unskilled laborers do.  Another reason, which is tied to the first, is that Mexican workers mean cheaper labor.  And lastly, the stay of Mexican migrant workers in the United States is but temporary and they can easily be expelled and sent back to their home countries.  In fact, this was proven when rumors started spreading that even immigrants will be enlisted in the armed forces to fight during the war.  Instantly, the Mexican workers returned to their native countries.

Of course, the increase in Mexican guestworkers was not continuous as the Great Depression raised sentiments that the Mexicans were taking the work of the Americans and there was a heightened deportation campaign.  But this did not last long since the construction of highways and the invention of automotive traveling.   Once again, Mexican immigration was on the rise.

The abovementioned summary of the article Two-Tiered Implementation definitely shows a great disparity of treatment between the Europeans and the South Americans.  But the same is understandable as the article sufficiently explained the justification for such.

The United States, although committed to granting asylum to refugees, is practical in the sense that refugees will be taken care of the public and at the time of the implementation of the nativist immigration policies, the economic situation of the country just does not permit it to loosen immigration of refugees.  But on the other side, the United States gain greatly from the entry of cheap Mexican workers, allowing the Americans to concentrate on skilled jobs, and without having to worry about the deportation of the workers as their native country is just a border away.

Indeed, there were good reasons, supported by evidence, that the article posed in explaining the restrictionist regime and the differences in immigration between the Jews and the Mexicans.

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