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Monday, March 26, 2007

Georgiann Leads off this week's Class Blog and she writes:

I believe the saying goes, No matter how much things change, they seem to remain the same.

This can easily be said for the United States on immigration policy as it relates to Mexico. We have discussed in class some of the measures currently being discussed to diffuse the topic of illegal immigrants. Such as building a fence, making every one legal as they stand in the U.S. today, renewable temporary work permits, security and health checks, pay a fine and become legal, they take jobs from citizens, they lower the wage scale, etc. These are exactly the same options and concerns tossed about from our readings going back to the 1930s 1950s as they relate to illegal immigrants.

The Bracero Program, according to the Truman Commission, said that this government sponsored contract labor program would eliminate illegal migration bring order to the farm labor market and protect foreign nationals from abuse. This was clearly not the case as with many government programs there were abuses and no money for enforcement. The Bracero Program legally allowed growers to bring in the help they needed from Mexico and pay them below wage even though they were to have a set wage. They allowed the workers to be housed in poor conditions and made them pay for their board and food.

The Filipinos has somewhat the same strife as the Mexican farm worker except they seem to be more willing to strike and use the court system. They also seem to have a few advantages over their Mexican counterparts. The Filipino government looked out for their citizens that came to America. They set up agents in the US, they had a dialog with the US government, and more importantly the US needed their country for military reasons. Although the Philippines were a US territory, they still held some leverage against the US government.

The Filipinos were grouped in with the Chinese; they were excluded from becoming citizens. They tried to argue that of all the Asian groups, they assimilated the best with the American (white) culture. This did not hold up in court. People did not believe that “brown” people could obtain the same intelligence, morality and social characteristics of people. On page 117 of Ngai, there is a quote by Attorney General U. S. Webb, We thank God that only we, the white people, found it first (America) and we want to be protected in our enjoyment of it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

In Ngai's Illegal Immigration & The Making of Modern America, we turn our attention (South of the U.S. Border) to our nations "undocumented" or "illegal" aliens--persons living in the United States without permission from the U.S. Government. Nagai's focus charts the historical orgins of an "illegal alien" in American law and society and the emergence of illegal immigration as the "central problem" in U.S. Immigration Policy in the twentieth century. As Ngai states,

"what it is about the violation of the nation's sovereign space that produces a different kind of illegal alien and a different valuation of the claims that he or she can make on society? Unauthorized entry, the most common form of illegal immigration since the 1920s, remains vexing for both state and society. Undocumented immigrants are at once welcome and unwelcome: they are woven into the economic fabric of the nation, but as labor that is cheap and disposable. Employed in western and southwestern agriculture during the middle decades of the twentieth century, today illegal immigrants work in every region of the United States, and not only as farmworkers. They also work in poultry factories, in the kitchens of restaurants, on urban and suburban construction crews, and in the homes of middle-class Americans. Marginalized by their position in the lower strata of the workforce and even more so by their exclusion from the polity, illegal aliens might be understood as a caste, unambiguously situated outside the boundaries of formal membership and social legitimacy.

At the same time, illegal immigrants are also members of ethno-racial communities; they often inhabit the same social spaces as their co-ethnics and, in many cases, are members of "mixed status" families. Their accretion engenders paradoxical effects..."

Thursday, March 15, 2007

THIS WEEK, we completed our mid-term examination and listened to our guest speaker, Senior Special Agent Grant Lucas from the Department of Homeland Security.

The following questions and model answers should be reviewed prior to next week's class, as we will review your mid-term answers, discussing chapter 1-3 of Ngai and discuss your book report. See you next Thursday…...

Sunday, March 04, 2007

After concluding Patriot Acts and our mid-term review session, we will resume the course series of guest speakers and have our mid-term examination. Special Agent Grant Lucas, direct from the Department of Homeland Security headquarters in Washington, D.C., will speak to us about the Department’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement Branch. Created in March 2003, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the largest investigative branch of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The agency was created after 9/11, by combining the law enforcement arms of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and the former U.S. Customs Service, to “more effectively enforce our immigration and customs laws and to protect the United States against terrorist attacks”.

As ominous as its name sounds, “ICE” does this by targeting undocumented or illegal immigrants. As stated by ICE, this agency’s focus is exact: “[T]he people, money and materials that support terrorism and other criminal activities. ICE is a key component of the DHS ‘layered defense’ approach to protecting the nation…and uphold public safety.”
Note the impact and role that this agency has in addressing society’s concerns on illegal immigration and terrorist threats on U.S. soil.

Please review the prepared questions for Special Agent Lucas prepared by our graduate students and submit your own if you like by email to me. I welcome written questions which will be submitted to Special Agent Lucas from everyone!
The graduate students will compose the questions panel and I will serve as moderator.


As a final reminder for our mid-term exam, please review carefully the reading material in Daniels which we covered in the mid-term review session. The historical background, the early American groups which attempted to limit immigration and events in our early immigration history reinforce the premise that immigration policy in the United States in not based on some objective standard, but a “creature” of two concepts or disciplines. Review the Avalon film study guide. Know in detail and provide specific persons (and examples) of the ways in which one “Comes to America” (i.e., immigrant and non-immigrant visas; entering illegally) and the real life examples of them seen in this course (family, job, political asylum, or the visa lottery) and the impact they have on U.S. society in the past and today. As discussed during our review, be able to compare Chapter 3 of We are All Suspects Now with the individuals examined during our class discussions and cite those individuals discussed and those seen in Patriot Acts.