MAGA World, be warned: “Illegal: How America’s Lawless Immigration Regime Threatens Us All” is not for you.
The slim volume, written by Syracuse University’s Elizabeth F. Cohen, does not explore how Washington elites allowed hordes of “illegals” to infest the nation. It’s a history of what was once a broadly welcoming posture toward newcomers, combined with a frequently shocking indictment of how the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Customs and Border Protection “pose a grave threat to law and order in our society.”
If Cohen is seeking converts, rather than approving nods and comments at the Goldstein Alumni and Faculty Center Restaurant, she should prepare for disappointment. Her “progressive” condemnations — e.g., to “people who have been disappointed in our country for a long time, the Trump era is not a shock,”
“Reagan-era tactics… stigmatized a subset of social welfare programs aimed at the very poor,” the reform of a single welfare program in 1996 was born in “a moment… marked by many forms of reaction and retrenchment” — make her ideology blindingly obvious.
That’s unfortunate, because “Illegals” depiction of the early population of the United States smashes many myths. And its survey of the ineptitude, thuggishness and unaccountability of federal immigration-enforcement entities should trouble left and right alike.
“Prior to the 20th century,” Cohen writes, “there was little federal regulation of either immigration or the border.” Furthermore, “there was no coordinated large-scale national effort to prevent immigration or report immigrants.” And the new republic thrived.
There were orchards to plant, textiles to spin, canals to dig, railroad tracks to lay, steel to forge, and ships to build. Hard work, to be sure, but for millions, preferable to life back home, where stagnation dominated and opportunity languished.
What was an open door began to close with 1882’s Chinese Exclusion Act, legislation that “wasn’t officially repealed until 1943.” In the 1920s, “patrician white nationalists got their way,” and the Immigration Act “imposed quotas to enact the dominant view… that anyone who wasn’t of ‘original settler’ extraction was racially distinct from and inferior to members of founding nationalists.” Five years later, the Registry Act “created penalties for those who arrived without paperwork after the quota system was put in place.”
By D. Dowd Muska for INSIDE SOURCE
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