How Immigration Has Shaped Charlottesville's Politics: A Historical Perspective

It was one of many racially charged institutional practices that allowed immigration officials to deny people of certain ethnicities or appearances, often those from Southern and Eastern Europe who were not considered “purely white”, by speculating on their ability to work. People with a “physical illness”, as was often said of Jewish immigrants, were deemed “ill-adapted and could procreate”: defective, a letter from a commissioner to the departments of immigration and labor warned that year. More than a century later, historians of that time see echoes of those tactics in the administration's efforts to halve the approximately 1 million immigrants that enter the country each year. And while the concept of whiteness has changed since the 18th century, they say that white nationalism has historically been one of the motivations behind the U.

S. immigration policy and the country's social hierarchy. The U. Immigration Reform for Strong Employment Act (RAISE), introduced in February and confirmed by President Donald Trump last month, prioritizes wealthy, highly educated, English-speaking applicants over those trying to reunite with their families through what is known as chain migration.

David Perdue of Georgia and Sen. Tom Cotton, from Arkansas, wrote in a statement that most immigrants are “underqualified or unqualified” and “threaten to create an almost permanent underclass for whom the American dream is out of reach.” And when Trump supported him from the White House last month, he implied that new immigrants put social assistance to the test, despite a law that already prohibits them from collecting it for the first five years they are in the country. Douglas Baynton, professor of American cultural history at the University of Iowa, who wrote about Bosak in his book “Defectives in the Land,” says that this emphasis on skills, education and language recycles early efforts to limit immigration based on ethnicity and race. And a system based on merit, such as the one promoted by the RAISE Act, is what the new executive director of an “alt-right” white nationalist organization, Identity Evropa, said he was in favor of. People with political power in the Thirteen Colonies created a hierarchy of “whiteness” before the founding of the United States. While there was prejudice against darker skin in other regions, José Moya, professor of American history at Barnard College, said that the concept of “whiteness” and its use in the U.

probably emerged from the Anglo-Saxons in their conquest of the Americas in the 17th and 18th centuries. He referred to the late 1750s, when Benjamin Franklin, who would later become a founding father and abolitionist, determined that the tens of thousands of Germans in Pennsylvania were “palatine jerks.” Franklin said in a letter to his friend, a scientist, that “they couldn't adopt our habits any more than they can adopt our complexion.”At the time, Franklin was a printer, worried that Pennsylvania would become an “alien colony.” So he helped in an effort to anglicize Germans, joining schools as a trustee to teach English and religion to German children. By 1790, a Naturalization Act stated that “all white male inhabitants would become citizens”; it was then when the country began to impose its hierarchy of white people. He passed the Immigration Act which imposed a tax of 50 cents per head for every person considered “undesirable” and who was returned. That same year he passed the China Exclusion Act declaring a moratorium on Chinese labor immigrants.

Public health inspectors enforced this law by issuing hasty judgments at the border selecting people they considered had peculiar appearance; capable of committing crazy things; being criminal or promiscuous; or looking ugly. Italians; Slavs; Jews; and Irish people were targeted for their ability to boost economy and were returned or stigmatized. While Baynton said these judgments weren't always inherently racist; immigrants couldn't be blind or deaf; for example; they often reinforced pre-existing popular stereotypes. These stereotypes said Italians were prone to violence because of their ties to mafias; they couldn't control their tempers and were associated with mental weakness like Slavs; Jews like Bosak were physically ill and greedy; Irish people were characterized as alcoholics who were vulnerable to insanity he said. These types of scientific studies which have now disappeared supported contagion of eugenics movement; a time when it was common to believe social problems; intellect; morality; disability; beauty and even laziness were hereditary. Quotas were finally eliminated in 1965 amidst civil rights movement after people took streets and organized sit-ins enduring beatings and demonstrating they were willing to die just for equal rights.

It was same decade KKK resurfaced again with bomb attacks on black schools and churches among other acts violence. White Nationalists Are “Trying To Create Something New” It was preamble to “Unite The Right” demonstration an effort protest removal statue Confederate general from local park which left woman two police officers dead But he says story about ranks white people exclusivity KKK not line with ideals his white nationalist movement Kline said his father has British Catholic Irish Protestant heritage Saxon ethnicity mountains Transylvania what now Romania mother's side He said his great-grandfather returned oppression mountains Transylvania after fighting Russians Siberia during First World War. Kamala Kelkar works research projects PBS NewsHour Weekend He been journalist decade reporting from Oakland India Alaska now New York Learn more about Friends NewsHour Second broad topic explores immigrants themselves including demographic trends political economic incorporation political participation. The deadly “Unite The Right” demonstration year....

Jasmin Migliorisi
Jasmin Migliorisi

Extreme food ninja. Unapologetic bacon evangelist. Lifelong bacon geek. General food junkie. Avid web aficionado.

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