Asian American Reflection

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This week’s discussion is based on your reading and reflection upon the text of the Chinese Exclusion Act and Erika Lee’s article. Lee comes to a signifcant conclusion in her historical research of the period between 1882 to 1924. She writes,

Chinese immigrants–racialized as perpetual foreigners–became the first group in the country marked as “illegal immigrants.” The U.S. Bureau of Immigration’s first division to deal primarily with illegal immigration was, after all, called the Chinese Division, making “Chinese” synonymous with “illegal” in the same way “Mexican” is racialized now. Indeed, Chinese immigration and exclusion along the northern and southern borders appears to have been an important trial run for the U.S. Bureau of Immigration’s much larger efforts to control Mexican immigration in later years. In both cases, the radicalization of political discourse and policy on immigration has been central to the ideological, legal, and political definitions of national membership and national identity.

In your response for this week, reflect upon perceptions of the Chinese in this time period from 1882-1924, especially compared to other contemporary immigrant groups such as Europeans and Mexicans. What were the concerns around the presence of Chinese in the United States? More importantly, what other lessons can be drawn from this time to apply to issues that we read and hear about today? While there are multiple points of comparison, there are also some significant contrasts — what do you think those are? What strikes you as interesting? As you think about these questions in your response, please be specific and concrete instead of making broad generalizations — that means there should be some time doing a bit of outside reading to help establish those connections.

Note: Read the attached article and the link in order to complete the assignment.…

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