White Borders: The History of Race and Immigration in the United States from Chinese Exclusion to the Border Wall

Beacon. Oct. 2021. 256p. ISBN 9780807054062. $25.95. POL SCI
Jones (geography and environment, Univ. of Hawai’i; Violent Borders) delivers a concise history of American immigration policy, from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to the Trump era. The book peels back the surface of American policies that restricted immigration, and analyzes the underlying impulses and biases. Jones argues that prejudice and white supremacy are at the root of policies limiting entry into the United States. Individual states created the first immigration restrictions, Jones adeptly explains, while the federal government was only empowered to grant citizenship rights; it would take subsequent Supreme Court rulings to shift immigration policymaking to the federal government. Jones does an excellent job simplifying these Supreme Court rulings and explaining how the laws were enacted. He carefully investigates contemporary private companies that wield their political power and pour considerable funds into efforts to block immigration reform. He also identifies tangible relationships (historical and/or contemporary) between a number of American companies and white supremacist organizations.
VERDICT A highly recommended, in-depth history of migration that accounts for the lives affected by American border policing and immigration restrictions.
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