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Race, Cold War Civil Rights and the Hart-Celler Act of 1965 Anita Casavantes Bradford Assistant Professor, History and Chicano/Latino Studies University.

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Presentation on theme: "Race, Cold War Civil Rights and the Hart-Celler Act of 1965 Anita Casavantes Bradford Assistant Professor, History and Chicano/Latino Studies University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Race, Cold War Civil Rights and the Hart-Celler Act of 1965 Anita Casavantes Bradford Assistant Professor, History and Chicano/Latino Studies University of California Irvine February 7, 2014

2 Immigration Reform: Messy Now, Messy Then The 1964 Civil Rights Act, 1965 Voting Rights Act, and 1965 Hart-Celler Act are usually understood together as a high point for postwar liberal anti-racism—hooray for American democracy! But as you might expect, the story’s actually more complicated—and a lot more interesting….

3 Key Concepts for This Lecture World War II--The “Double V” campaign The McCarran Walter Act (1952) Post-war liberal anti-discrimination coalition Immigration reform as Cold War foreign policy 1965 Hart-Celler Act: – Family reunification – Chain migration – Ironies/Unintended Consequences

4 Civil Rights, Postwar Liberalism and Calls for Immigration Reform, The “long civil rights era:” African American anti- discrimination struggle (1940s) -The “Double V” campaign: victory against fascism/racism abroad AND at home -U.S. government concern with racist reputation overseas -NAACP and white elites form early anti- discrimination coalition

5 Nazi Anti-U.S. Propaganda: Or, the (really evil) Pot Calling the Kettle Black?

6 The Cold War and the McCarran Walter Act (1952) Conservatives in Congress resist ending national origins quota-offer the McCarran Walter Act as a ‘reform’: – Raised numerical quotas (but only slightly) – Gender equity: allowed husbands of U.S. women to enter as non-quota immigrants – Abolished Japanese exclusion BUT…

7 The Cold War and the McCarran Walter Act (1952) Found other ways to exclude racial “undesirables:” – Token quotas for ‘Asia Pacific Triangle’ and postcolonial people (a pre-emptive attempt to block non-white immigration from the developing world) – Qualitative restrictions/administrative procedures to block legal Mexican immigration-but tolerated/encouraged illegal entry and labor – Exclusion/deportation/denaturalization of ‘subversive’ and ‘immoral’ immigrants

8 Cold War Civil Rights? Contesting the National Origins Quota System A growing anti-discrimination coalition: African Americans, Jews, ‘ethnic’ immigrant voters, NE Democratic Party BUT: different motives for working against national origins quota: – Jews wanted a symbolic end to anti-Semitism – Catholics, Italians, wanted increased immigration – Blacks opposed to racist logic of the quota system- but focused more on domestic anti-discrimination struggle

9 Immigration Reform—a Weapon of Cold War Foreign Policy? US racism well known in Asia, Latin America, Africa—key sites of emerging Cold War conflict Connecting civil rights, immigration reform to foreign policy gave reformers political leverage – They argued immigration reform was necessary to combat Soviet anti-US propaganda, improve the nation’s image overseas, gain anti-communist allies in the developing worldSoviet anti-US propaganda

10 A Favorite Cold War Tactic: Evoking our “Fallen Heroes” “Let those who defend the national origins quota system be forced to read aloud the names of the winners of the Congressional Medal of Honor, or to recite the daily casualty lists coming out of Korea—and then let them dare to say that those of one national origin are less fit to be Americans, less fit to live and die for America, than those of another national origin.” Sen. Herbert Lehman (D-NY)

11 Performing Patriotism: Cold War Reformers ‘Walk the Line’ 1950s: Tense/suspicious political climate, govt. campaign to ‘root out’ suspected communists Liberal reformers vulnerable to charges of ‘commie’ sympathies Their proposals for civil rights/immigration reform only went so far: – More concerned with formal legal equality than tackling deeper roots of racial injustice – Immigration reform focused on white Europeans, excluded Asians and Mexicans

12 Want to know more about the history of race and Foreign Policy?

13 Cultural history meets the history of U.S. race relations and Foreign Policy …

14 Lyndon B. Johnson, Civil Rights and Immigration Reform Growing African American civil rights movement, white backlash in the South: need to improve US image overseas grows urgentwhitebacklashSouth Leads to passage of: – 1964 Civil Rights Act – 1965 Voting Rights Act – 1965 Immigration and Nationality ActImmigration and Nationality Act “repairs a very deep and painful flaw in the fabric of American justice…corrects a cruel and enduring wrong in the conduct of the American nation.”

15 Wait—I thought I ordered the liberal immigration reform…? The 1965 Hart-Celler Act Quota for E Hemisphere (170,000) – 74% of visas to family members – 20% to ‘highly skilled’ immigrants – 6% to ‘refugees’ (mostly anti-communist) New W Hemisphere quota (120,000): – Eliminated legal temporary worker visas – No employer sanctions for hiring illegal workers – preserved ‘back door’ of state sponsored illegal immigration

16 Ironies and Unintended Consequences of Immigration Reform Two goals of the Hart-Celler Act: – Open “front door” to European immigration – Preserve strict numerical limits on immigration Actual result: – Non-quota family reunification visas allow chain migration from non-white developing nations (Asia and Latin America) – Growing European prosperity; E Hemisphere quotas go unfilled

17 Revisiting our Key Concepts: The “Double V” campaign The McCarran Walter Act (1952) 1950s/60s liberal anti-discrimination coalition Immigration reform as a weapon of Cold War foreign policy 1965 Hart Celler Act Family reunification Chain migration

18 Food for Thought… In what ways does the legacy of the Hart-Celler Act continue to shape debates over immigration today? What lessons for successful immigration reform can we take from the formulation/implementation of Immigration Reform in 1965?


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