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Chapter 6 Reflection: Discrimination & US Immigration Laws

Smawad's picture

In Chapter 6 of the "A Disability History of the United States" the theme that stood out to me the most was the correlation between discrimination (in all ways: racism, sexism, bias, etc) and immigration laws in the US. The Immigration Law of 1882 prohibited entry of anyone who is "likely to become a public charge." How do they decide if someone is "likely" to become a burden on society? It's based on the immigration officers' bias and racism. For example, the physical exams done on Chinese immigrants were a much more difficult process than the physical exams done on European immigrants because the belief that Chinese immigrants are "disabled for democracy." Therefore, we see not only the involvement of racism and biases, but also politics because of the rise of tension between communists and capitalists at the time. Entry into the US was also refused based people's physical appearance and sexual organs. Those who were trying to come into the US were basically judged based on how "worthy" their bodies are for entrance. The process of immigration was inhumane, and it sends a message to the American citizens who fit into one of the categories that have been refused entry that they aren't the ideal American, and they aren't "worthy" of being an American citizen. Once again, ordinary people get to decide who is worthy and who isn't, solely on their biases.


Leo's picture

this is a really good point you made! It reminds me of recently in my Social Inequality class we discussed how America's immigration policies have developed over the years compared to other places and it's true that it's all based on who they think is worth is to come into the states, and presenting it as if they care about everyone and hiding the underlying ableism, racism, sexism, xenophobism, etc and fear.