Friday, April 27, 2012

Reading Journal for Defining America

Here are the steps for your journal entry:
  • Select a chapter from Defining America other than the introduction, prologue, or epilogue.
  • Read the chapter and identify the thesis.  Refer to people who previously posted about your chapter.
  • State why you selected this chapter and relate your reason to the main points from the chapter.


  1. I read "The Undesirable Asian," which was the second chapter in the book.

    The thesis statement, in my opinion, was: "The seriatim exclusion of immigrants from China, Japan, India, the Philippines, and the rest of Asia from the 1870s through the 1930s is one of the most stark examples of the use of immigration policies to define America."

    I selected this chapter because, as an Asian-American myself, I find it interesting to read about how Asian immigrants were treated for much of our country's history. This also gives me a perspective on how much the laws and attitudes toward such immigrants have changed in the last few decades. I've known about the Chinese Exclusion Act and the pervading attitudes toward Chinese immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries for a while now, but I did not know that these exact same barriers also existed for Japanese, Philippino, and South Asian immigrants during this time period. This chapter was very informative and enlightening in that regard.

    1. I read Chapter 2 -- “The Undesirable Asian”.

      I agree with Kevin Xie that the thesis statement of this chapter was, “the seriatim exclusion of immigrants from China, Japan, India, the Philippines, and the rest of Asia from the 1870s through the 1930s is one of the most stark examples of the use of immigration policies to define America. Asians simple did not fall within that definition.”

      I am curious to know the immigration policies for Asians, especially for Chinese people since i am a Chinese. That's why i choose this chapter.

      This chapter is very informative. I briefly knew that gold rush and railroad constructions brought Chinese immigrants, but did not know the details, especially like the Chinese Exclusion Act, which was enforced in 1882, and altered until 1965.

      This chapter gives me a view of Asian immigrants’ history. Among the immigrants from Asian countries, mainly including China, Japan, India and the Philippines, they were treated slightly differently as their home country’s situation. Chinese immigrants were in worst situation as the Qing Dynasty was crumping. Japanese immigrants were in better position because of the government’s protection. There were not many Indian immigrants as India was British’s colony. There were no restrictions for Filipinos as Philippine was not independent. But all in all, Asian immigrants were workers and commodities in American’s perspective, and not fully welcomed by the US society.

    2. I read Chapter 2 from the book - The Undesirable Asian.
      I myself am an Asian as I came from Indonesia and when I came across the title of the chapter, I got interested to know more about the topic.
      I agree with Kevin that the thesis for this chapter is the sentence found in page 50, "The seriatim exclusion of immigrants from China, Japan, India, the Philippines, and the rest of Asia from the 1870s through the 1930s is one of the most stark examples of the use of immigration policies to define America."
      I got to know a lot of information about Asians that I never knew before by reading this part of the book. One new thing I learnt was that the laws that were imposed by the government of the United States during the 1907s were more favorable towards the Japanese than that towards the Chinese. The Japanese were allowed to have families in the United States but not the Chinese.
      From this, we could see how much things have changed as nowadays everyone is treated equally unlike the past.

    3. I read chapter two; the Undesirable Asian.
      I choose this chapter because of my previous knowledge of Asian immigration which had sparked my curiosity and interest of the topic in a previous US history class. As previous posts have stated, the most prominent thesis for this chapter is "The seriatim exclusion of immigrants from China, Japan, India, the Philippines, and the rest of Asia from the 1870s through the 1930s is one of the most stark examples of the use of immigration policies to define America."
      This chapter furthered my knowledge of the hard and greatly unfair circumstances that Asian immigrants faced. These immigrants were treated as lower class and were considered labor workers. This image of Asian immigrants plus the growing fear of communism created an environment in where Americans greatly looked down upon.

  2. I have read the chaper 5, "The 1952 act: excluding communists, homosexuals, and other undesirables".

    The thesis is that in 1950s, government excluded people who were relative to communists because of the social scarify and excluded homosexuals for whom a PHS cerificate was issued.

    The reason I chose this chapter is that I am a homosexual. I have kept my eyes on the homosexual policy and I would like to know about its history. In my opinion, for the communist's part, same as China in 1966-1976, the government over reactted to the oppsite social system and tried so hard to get rid of the communism/capitalism. Many people who were innocent go trouble and were kicked out of the country. On the other hand, for the part of homosexual, I knew that once homosexual was thoughs as sickness.However, it surprised me that homosexuals were excluded because of "sickness". Fortunately, people now understand this group of people that they are not physical or mental disorder or whatever.

    1. Homosexuality was still in the DSM (the big book of psych disorders) until 1973. Even today, while homosexuality isn't a basis for deportation any more, married gays still don't get immigrant visas like married hetero people do. I am reminded of a news article in August of last year how INS was going to deport a man who was the primary gare giver for his husband (who was dying of AIDS), because they would not give him permanent resident status due to not recognizing his Massachusets marriage like they would for a hetero couple ( ). Immigration equality is a long uphill battle that is still in progress.

      I saw the passage with "The 1952 law was more direct and reminiscent of the Alien and Sedition Laws of early America; individuals who held certain political viewpoints were not welcome. Moreover, the 1952 law lay the groundwork to exclude another social group that was un-American: homosexuals" as the thesis sentences for the chapter. I also chose the chapter because of my presence in the GLBT community.

      The chapter tells the stories of several individuals who fought long court battles either due to their sexual orientation or due to their presences near "un-American" political groups like the Communist Party. In many cases, individuals targeted for their association with the Communist Party only attended a couple of meetings, or did not know they were paying membership dues. I was annoyed, but not surprised, at the information the chapter presented about how the Act was used against gay people. When the book went over the two incidents with Carl Hill, the London reporter, particularly the second incident, it made me wonder at first if Hill had been "remembered" from the previous incident and specifically targeted, but then, considering that he carried and wore pride items, he may have actually stood out in the first place. While this certainly doesn't excuse a discriminatory practice in the first place, it did make me very concerned.

    2. It seems like others have already commented on the homosexuality issue rather well, so I think I'll be taking the issue of communism in immagration. I myself, while niether communist nor socailist, find theidea that aciuntry so dedicated in concept to freedom of speech and belief could somehow justify denying people their respective rights to having their own political oppinion. To call someines beliefs, political or religious, as 'unamerican' to me seems vastly hypocritical of a nation so loud in it's dedication to personal freedoms.
      The Red Scare in this respecive time period to me us a major and notably unexamined flaw un American history, and it is rather interesting to nite howmass hysteria and govermental parinioia can affect policy.

    3. In class today I mentioned a more recent couple that had a member deported due to the federal government not recognizing their marriage. The link to that article is

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    5. Thank you for your information.

      I got this page and I think it's from LGBT. It anwsers about gay marriage and its policy.

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  4. The chapter 3 "Translate This": The 1917 Literacy Law told us the long path that the law took before it finally became legalized and particularly the reasons behind enforcing such laws.

    In my opinion, the chapter's thesis was that, "Literacy law is an example of American sentiment that was used to exclude Southern and Eastern European from bringing more ethnic backgrounds, due to the racial stereotypes that the Americans had against the immigrants."

    I read this chapter because I myself am still learning the English language, and I was curious about how literacy of a language can be tied to nationalism itself. In my home country, there was little concern about language proficiency being a requirement to acquire my home country's nationality. However, after reading this chapter I can see some of the reasons (although some may be seen unethical) that endorsed such law.

  5. I read chapter 3, "Translate This": The 1917 literacy law. In my opinion the thesis statement is "The enactment of the 1917 literacy law makes it clear that southern and eastern Europeans, particularly Jews and Italians, were not welcomed as Americans by much of the polity.Now barring certain races from intermingling was not only socially desirable but also scientifically appropriate."
    This statement not only states the author's opinion but also summarises the chapter in a way.
    I chose to read this chapter because the introduction really caught my eye while I was skimming through the introductions of the chapters. It is particularly interesting to me, how language can a play such a big role in immigration policies. However, The discrimination against the southern and eastern Europeans seems completely unfair when looked at from humanistic point of view. Also how newspaper headlines promoted racial stereotypes against Italians and Jews faced the maximum economic discrimination, only because they were good at making money and knew how to run their businesses.
    Shinta Soeroso, I really find it interesting how you brought in the example of your own country and how language proficiency isn't a major concern. Similarly in my country, India, language is never an important factor to become an immigrant, which is why the chapter was particularly interesting to me; how your language and nationality can shape your future in another country.

  6. Michael Tjuatjadarma
    Chapter 4 : "The Xenophobic 1920s"

    In my opinion, the thesis for this chapter is that, the immigration acts of the 1917 and the 1924 are the major elements of immigration policy for many years in the United States; declaring about the quality restrictions and the limit of the immigrants.

    I chose this chapter because i was curious about the title of the chapter. i did not know the meaning of the chapter, so i read the chapter, and i was hoping that i will understand the meaning after i read the chapter. And also i can relate this story to my grandparents story who were immigrated from China to Indonesia. It was so hard to get into Indonesia because the Indonesian is a Muslim country, while my grandparents are Christian. It shows that they are racist to the people who has differ language than they have. They ask a lot of questions and expect a lot from my grandparents because they did not want Chinese to get into Indonesia. My grandparents were unwanted immigrants at that time. So they were so strict to my grandparents, they checked all the stuff.

    1. In chapter 4

      I think the thesis for this chapter is "The national origins quota laws of 1920s resulted from the continued sense of ethic and racial superiority of Anglo or western European stock for the foundation of who could become a true American."
      I chose this chapter because it was very festinating that they were using ethics and racial superiority to closed people off from being American. Using the Quota Law of 1921 to let western Europeans have the ability to become American and and to closed off for ones from southern Europe or eastern Europe like people from Italy. Also, being able to use fear to blame and deport people for the Red Scare even if they did nothing wrong, or being able to kill innocent men that were proven to be innocent years later like Sacco and Vanzetti.
      Many counties find ways of generalize people to cause fear that they are awful people when there really not once you get to know them. The countries' view is to try to make it you vs. them.

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    3. (Allen Han. I am borrowing this account.)

      I agree with Dolores that the thesis of the chapter is "The national origins quota laws of 1920s resulted from the continued sense of ethnic and racial superiority of Anglo or western European stock for the foundation of who could become a true American."

      I read this essay because, honestly, it was the first one I flipped to. I do see how I would be interested in writing an essay based on this chapter however--the chapter touches on the role of anarchism in Italian-American communities, the bizarre political coalitions that arose due to opposition to the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti, and political activism during the 1920s. I am not familiar with these topics, which makes the possibility of my writing an essay on this topic remote.

      However, I am interested in the evolution of the cultural mores that have created the Tea Party movement of today, and the mixture of socio-economic insecurities that (I would argue) are the real source of Nativist movements. Hence, I may decide to use the Sacco and Vanzetti case as my example. The decision of Calvin Coolidge to not give a stay on the executions of Sacco and Vanzetti may have well been politically motivated, and if this is the case, I would probably want to center my essay around trying to understand the organizational structure and thought process of the political movements that were indirectly responsible for the arrest, trial, and execution of Sacco and Vanzetti.

      The implications for contemporary immigration policy are stark, as the current immigration laws are inhumane for reasons beyond simply politically enfranchised bigotry--the reasons are due to political deadlock as well, which suggests that America's immigration policies will continue to suffer so long as immigration policy is subject to the whims of public opinion.

  7. I selected and read chapter 8 in the book "Defining America" which is titled, "Patrolling the Border and Sweeping for Mexicans". The sentence that best describes this chapter and can serve as the thesis in my opinion is the following from page 138; "Though the Border Patrol is involved in myriad functions, patrolling the Southern border is its primary task and that is where resources have been constantly added since the 1970s." I chose to read this chapter because it seems interesting to me and I wanted to familiar myself more with some of the issues involving Mexican migration across the border. This chapter includes some of the history in immigration policy and how quotas laws have shifted from limiting southern and eastern European and Asian immigration to monitoring the southern border between Mexico and the U.S for Mexican migrants. This quote describes the process, "As an exclusionary mood aimed at immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe and all parts of Asia swept through the halls of congress in 1921 and 1924 in the form of national origins quota laws, focus on the unlawful entry of migrants across the United States-Mexico border increased." (pg 135). This chapter also describes the Supreme Court’s attitude towards the enforcement tactics of the immigration officers. The Fourth Amendment to the constitution which protects citizens from illegal searches by police is often overlooked or reinterpreted by the Supreme Court in order to give the border patrol more freedom to interrogate and capture primarily Mexican Nationals because, “attention to the U.S border enforcement and workplace raids, however, tended to increase when the U.S. economy sagged or when organized labor exerted pressure on immigration officials.” (pg 134). Another passage describes the INS attitude and priority in the targeting of Mexican migrants who are recruited by U.S. employers and come to the U.S mainly to find work. “Although INS officials acknowledge that Mexicans did not make up the majority of undocumented aliens in the country, Mexicans were targeted by INS sweeps." (pg 138) This policy took affect in the 1970s when ‘numerical limitations’ began to be applied to Mexico.

  8. I read chapter 5, the 1952 act, about the exclusion of gays and lesbians. I chose this chapter because I am enrolled in the ICS LGBT-studies this quarter and I find the history of LGBT persons very interesting.
    I agree with Zeng: The thesis is that in 1950s, government excluded people who were relative to communists because of the social scarify and excluded homosexuals for whom a PHS cerificate was issued.
    The fact that gay people were considered "sex perverts" or "had a psychopathic personality" is for me very hard to grasp. And that they were considered sick for so long; until 1973, is very sad.
    Even if gays are not considered sick anymore they still have to struggle in our society, not in the least immigration wise. As Gina Silver wrote; married gays still don't get immigrant visas like married hetero people do. This tells me that we have not really come very far since 1973, there is still a long way to gays being equal to straight people in our society.

  9. The chapter I chose is chapter 8."Patrolling the border and sweeping for Mexicans"
    The thesis in my opinion was. " By the 1960s the flow of undocumented Mexicans was rapidly increasing and straining the resourses of the Border Partrol."
    I chose this chapter because the title grabbed my attention. I am Mexican my self so learning what they went through to try to live the american dream is intersting and important to me. "The Government has estimated that 85% of the aliens illagally in the country are from Mexico....The Mexican border is almost 2,000 miles long, and even a vastly reinforced Border Patrol would find it impossible to prevent illegal border crossings." (140) This shows that no matter what the Border Patrol does to try to prevent illegal crossing, they wont ever stop the illegal Mexicans to try to live better lives.

  10. The chapter I chose is chapter 7 Politicizing the Southwest Border. The thesis for this chapter is: The policies that regulate Mexican migration to America at the southwest border has allowed legal migration when in need of cheap labor but has restricted migration when America faces recession. I chose to read this chapter to educate myself on the history of America and the old attitudes Americans had toward my family. I read that the Americans felt superior and that they believed that they were meant to take a position of superiority over the rest of the world. The chapter includes a attitude toward people of Mexican descent as not "real" Americans. The chapter includes the topic of the bracero program where Mexico and the United State made an agreement to allow workers to enter to work in America. The chapter closes with Operation Wetback with the deportation of over a million undocumented Mexicans by the INS. All Americans are real Americans. America is changing and those that fuel the change are the ones that define the country. Old Americans thought they were better than Mexicans. I think they were more fortunate to not have to do hard labor in the fields for long hours. People should not think themselves superior than others. It is okay to have pride and work hard to do things well. It is not okay to attack people other than you because you think you are superior. The act of saying and doing bad things to poor and suffering people make you an inferior human being who likely takes pleasure in putting others down to hide the fact that you are not really happy with the person you are. I know some Americans are not happy with the fact that in today's American the definition of "real" American is changing to include the people that live in America. American people may continue to try to say and do things to make Americans they feel are not "real" Americans feel like they are inferior but by standing strong and believing that you are just as good if not better than they are you can defeat their ignorance. Just because they believe anyone is not a "real" American does not make it true.

    1. I agree that the main thesis for this chapter would be the flip flop of laws, and enforcement. My opinion on chapter seven was that when there was work to be done in the southwest that was "below a white mans work" there were Mexican laborers close by. There were many different laws and exclusion acts that would restrict Mexican immigration, but the enforcement of these laws were not enforced. In the rare occasions that enforcement was applied only the migrant workers would be punished and not the employer. The back breaking agricultural jobs were considered Mexican Jobs.
      After the first world war when the stock market crashed was the first time that migrants were not jumping through the loopholes and the laws were finally enforced and cheap labor was deported.

  11. Chapter 10: The Dark Side of Modern-day Enforcement: Operation Gatekeeper

    Thesis: "U.S. border enforcement strategies shifted to deterrence rather than apprehension. In January 1994, a year after President Bill Clinton took office, the Border Patrol embarked on a strategy of "control through deterrence" that has proven deadly."

    I selected this chapter because the title seemed intriguing to me and I wanted to get and understanding of what it was about because I have heard "Operation Gatekeeper" many times before. I am mexican so I wanted to see what this was really about. I realized that before operation gatekeeper that my great grandparents went through a lot to get here but were lucky enough to get here before they enforced this along the borders. What really strikes me is how this could be allowed knowing that this is killing many innocent people who are just trying to better their life other than going about this a different way. It is stated, "Gatekeeper is a law enforcement operation that imposes a death sentence on individuals- principally Mexicans-who simply are seeking a better life because of economic imbalance or seeking to be with family. Operation Gatekeeper is a moral outrage, and our nation has lost its soul in supporting it" (204).
    America is supposed to be a place where most can feel comfortable and where this type of stuff should not happen. These things should go about it a different way as we do with other issues that are dealt within america with those who are American. But those who arent they get dealt with a different way. Not only did they think they were doing better by establishing this but they made things worse and knew about it and still kept the operation running. "The number of migrant deaths increased 600 times from 1994 to 2000...They adopted a 'hear no evil, see no evil' position...Operation Gatekeeper represents the worst manifestation of defining America through immigration policy" (205). This to me show how horrible we have become towards these issues and that it is morally wrong.

  12. I choose chapter eight because I have been raise in an certain way, that make my opinions about illegal or undocumented immigrants is one of understanding and sympathy. This chapter struck me because of the link to mexico whixh is where my grandmother comes from and with the mexican american border being such an hot topic today this chapter to be honest just made me angry about the ignorence about immigration.The chapter basiclly summerizes that the border is to big for the border control to stop the crossing of mexicans and for the most part what they are actually accomplishing is making the immigrants take far more dangerous routes through the deserts and because of the increase of border patrols the death toll has raised. Forrest Macierez

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  14. I selected Chapter 10 : The Dark Side of Modern-Day Enforcement: Operation Gatekeeper. I selected this chapter because Operation Gatekeeper was mentioned in the introduction a little bit and I was curious to know more; hoping this chapter would elaborate in detail about the operation.

    The thesis of this chapter seems to be how the American government does not want Mexican migrants entering the U.S. illegally and is willing to make that point clear with Operation Gatekeeper, an operation where the INS and other government officials knew that this plan would force migrants to put their lives at stake to cross the border.

    "The border environment is diverse. Mountains, deserts, lakes, rivers and valleys form natural barriers to passage. Temperatures ranging from sub-zero along the northern border to searing heat of the southern border effect [sic] illegal entry traffic as well as enforcement efforts. Illegal entrants crossing through remote, uninhabited expanses of land and sea along the border can find themselves in mortal danger." (198)

    I find this rather appalling that the INS' solution to the migrants crossing the southern borders was to basically force the migrants to take a riskier route and risk their lives. What I find even more sad is that statistics showed that Operation Gatekeeper wasn't deterring people at all and that all it did was just increase the number of deaths yet the continued the program. Whats worse is that the general public seems to just look the other way on these deaths since they're not "real americans".

  15. The chapter I read was chapter 2 the undesirable Asian because it was something I thought I could relate too but I could only understand parts of it because I felt like as I was reading it even though I knew part of what was going on I couldn't relate or try to feel like it was something important (although I know it is important and something I should care about).
    I know that I want to understand more of what was going on back when asian american immigrated to america like my family and especially the people I know who immigrated here and also lost some of the people important to them to very. I understand that they were treated warmly but also scorned at the same time but it seems like it was a cycle that continued to all of the asian groups that came here.
    the thesis that ties all of the main point to this chapter "The seriatim exclusion of immigrants from China, Japan, India, the Philippines, and the rest of Asia from the 1870s through the 1930s is one of the most stark examples of the use of immigration policies to define America."
    Hopefully as we progress into this book i can have a better understanding of it and i can make more sense to what I will be writing.KP

  16. I choose Chapter 11, Removal because it touched on topics that I have read about before and was a little familiar with. After reading this chapter, I'm having a hard time coming up with a clear thesis. So far I am leaning toward something like this.

    Deportation laws and policy are often created as reactionary measures for political reasons and knee jerk reactions and based little on facts or statistics.

    I'm try to refine this still but need to give it more thought still.