This week we read about American expansion abroad and belief in the “white man’s burden” to civilize backward nations and spread American libertas throughout the world. However, along the homefront, we learned that things were much different. In 1882, the government passed the first legislation that restricted immigration based on national origin and race. By passing the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, the government closed the United States to certain Chinese immigrants for ten years and required every Chinese person entering or leaving the country to carry identification. At the same time, to pacify the concerns of American investors who thought the act might have a negative impact on trade with China, Congress excluded students, teachers, merchants, and diplomats from the act, and in 1888 the Scott Act amended the legislation to bar re-entry into the United States by Chinese residents if they left the country. The exclusion of Chinese lasted until 1943 when China became an American ally against Japan in World War II, at which time Congress repealed the Chinese Exclusion Act. After completing the assigned reading and watching the video, answer the following:
- What side would you have taken and what can we learn from history about the immigration debates of today?
- Why might have investors been ok with students, teachers, merchants, and diplomats, but not others?
- According to your reading, the Chinese Exclusion Act set a precedent regarding immigration based on race or national origin. In what ways is this still prevalent today.