The book “Guarding the Golden Door: American Immigration Policy and Immigrants Since 1882.” Is a well read and one of the books that have been used by learning institutions due to its resourceful topic. It provides a valuable survey on the US migration since time in memorial. Most of the factual presentations in the book have been drawn from a range of secondary sources, hence strengthening the authenticity of the facts presented by Daniels in this book. The section on the Chinese exclusion of 1882 ushered an era of increased restrictions, for example, the 1924’s Immigration Act. The author successfully plays his part in bringing to light some of the issues that happened centuries back while giving it a modern world’s approach. In his book, “Guarding the Golden Door: American Immigration Policy and Immigrants Since 1882.” Rodger Daniels introduces his story with an emphatic call for the great historians in existence to pay keen attention to immigration and its policy.
America’s Attitude on Immigration
Since time in history, migration of the foreigners into US has been one of the notable transformative processes in the history of the nation (Daniels, 6). Immigration was critical for successful colonization of the American colonies. Drastically, between 1890 and 1920, before the Civil war, the number of the foreigners in the American soil grew by about 15 %. Due to this, the American response to immigrations changed as they became more ambivalent, developing a dualistic attitude. This kind of approach has seen the American government celebrate their immigrant heritage, although in the reality they are rejecting the immigrants (Stewart, 80). According to Daniels, in what he terms as American nativism, the general opposition of the immigrants by the Americans have made way for legislation of new immigration laws in America. Although this has immensely contributed to the development of America, it significantly affected both domestic and foreign relations (Daniels 9).
Chinese Exclusion Act
Daniels admits that the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was just but a watershed of the historical steps made by in immigration laws and policies. Before 1882, American leaders stuck to the notion that for their country to survive and get populated, immigration was a critical thing. However, the concept changed drastically after the Civil War when a lot of questions were generated by the cultural and economic impact of the immigrants, especially the Chinese, to the nation. A number of Anglo-American laborers grew worried over the Chinese émigrés. They felt that the Chinese counterparts stole their jobs in the West Coast, while others took it as an invasion of US by the Chinese. Therefore, the Chinese Exclusion Law of 1882 was in response to the expanding number of the Chinese émigrés. This law became the first law on immigration to be legislated in US. In Daniels’ words, this law set the stage a series of laws on immigration centuries after. The tension into immigration drew a lot of depression in the country.
In spite of continuity of immigration and its policies in America, Daniels still holds that the space allocated for immigration and its policy in America is still “both cursory and spasmodic” in most of the books (pp 6). Daniels’ book is a masterful assessment of the area of interest as well as an introductory survey of the immigration policy. For the two decades, Daniels spent writing this book has earned him a great honor in research especially on the Asian American history. In Guarding, the Golden Door, Daniels can be said to have succeeded in bringing out the history of American policies on immigration in the attempt of regulating the State’s efforts to contain the immigration issue. The book is a success since it went out of the ordinary to bring to light what most scholars of his generation scare away from; immigration and the immigration policies (Lee 69). After reading his book, you will concur with Daniels that there are a lot of issues concerning the country’s policy on immigration; rooted in racism, too cumbersome to enforce and inconsistent. These have generated a range of unforeseen implications.
Immigration Restriction League
The anti-Japanese law forced Teddy Roosevelt to have a table talk with the Japanese, leading to signing of the Gentleman’s Pact of 1908. According to the pact, Japan agreed to restrict issuance of American passports to the laborers of skilled or unskilled. However, the passport could be given to those who had been in America initially and may be their families have settled there. After the anti-immigrants xenophobia of 1917, a limit on immigration laid in 1921. This marked the triumph of the Nativism. When the world war 1 ended, eight categories of given exclusion from the immigration; Asians (except the Philippines and Japanese); contract laborers; criminals; those with either disease or a disability; those who are not morally upright; the radicals; and the illiterates (Daniels 27). In the Immigrants Act of 1924, assumptions of the Immigration Restriction League was listed. The assumptions excluded the immigrants who were already in US as per the time of its drafting. The system was effected as at July 1929, despite immigration going on (pp 58) (Wong 1354).
Mexican immigration and the Great Depression
The laws on immigration entirely redefined immigration are the US to a great extent and in unexpected ways that spread over many decades. However, the Second World War marked the turning point in the immigration restrictive laws in US. The United States loosened their initially set laws, allowing admission of refugees into the country. Even the country’s migration pattern was entirely changed. Initially, the legislators aimed at correcting the nativism that was there in the 1920s. In 1952, McCarran-Walter Act, paved way for immigrations, although most thought that it would still maintain the already existing status quo. These saw reception of many immigrants of Asian origin to US soil. In 1934 after the Great Depression, interpretation of the “likely to be a public charge” clause was twisted in the attempt of keeping away the foreign laborers. However, in 1940, the need for the laborers led to a temporary admission of the Mexican workers. Al through the book, Daniels urges the readers to bear some of the historical ironies in mind since they were headed for greater contemplation on immigrants’ restriction (Wong 1355).
Quota System and Its Implications
The book “Guarding the Golden Door: American Immigration Policy and Immigrants Since 1882.” has hence raised a lot of issues, some of which are so critical to American history as well as the contemporary history. Daniels succeeds in demonstrating that the racists the racists’ assumption and ethnicity has generated a series of restrictive immigration laws in America. For instance, in his comprehensive reading of the Immigration Act of 1924, Daniels highlights how nurturing of the racists’ ideas and historical amnesia gave way for immigrant quotas that also reactivated the old injustices while creating new ones that existed for decades (Christensen 630). This was the idea of the popular quota system. Moreover, the book has helped a lot in laying the painful ordeals that the restrictions on immigration had a number of unforeseen consequences that brought in new issues. Eventually, he explains how such problems generated a number of myths that ended up changing the perceptions of the immigrants about their works in the United States. The discussion of the immigration of the timeline of immigration since 1965 brings the myths into the light (Turk 354).
In conclusion, for any politician or aspiring one should strive to read this book. It is a sound conviction that any person alone has a foolproof strategy to manage the nation at any time. As much as Daniels has succeeded in passing his points out through throughout the book, sometimes it has become a struggle for him to tie the light arguments into a comprehensive and larger discussion. In a general look, the book is an excellent read for anyone who bears a transformative mind. The book is exemplary as it reads, but the author fails to introduce or conclude, to miss out on tying up of the book. Although the book lacks both adding paragraph as well as the conclusion, the author has successfully brought into clarity the turn of events, various policies and legislations that had been formulated for immigrants since 1882. With all the criticisms, the book still offers valuable and handy lessons about how cultural misperceptions, racism, and ignorance have been synergistically used to bring down the pursuit of justice for the immigrants. In the long run, it has created something that can be regarded as cold reality filled with unintended consequences (Christensen 631).
Christensen, Bryce. "Guarding the Golden Door: American Immigration Policy and Immigrants since 1882." The Booklist 100.7 (2003): 630-1.
Daniels, Roger. Guarding the Golden Door: American Immigration Policy and Immigrants since 1882. New York: Hill and Wang, 2004. Print.
Stewart, Duncan. "Guarding the Golden Door: American Immigration Policy and Immigrants since 1882." Library Journal 128.17 (2003): 80.
Turk, E. L. "Guarding the Golden Door: American Immigration Policy and Immigrants since 1882." Choice 42.2 (2004): 354.
Wong, K. S. "Guarding the Golden Door: American Immigration Policy and Immigrants since 1882." The Journal of American History 91.4 (2005): 1534-5.