By Kamran Nayeri, February 4, 2017
President Trump’s executive order to ban refugees and immigrants and the passionate popular opposition to it demonstrates immigration policy remains at the center of American politics as it has been in a number of other times in the past remaining still unresolved. This past Thursday, I was listening to KPFA’s Doug Henwood’s Behind the News program. In its first segment, Henwood interviewing Professor Mae Ngai of Columbia University, an expert on American immigration policy. Although, I learn a lot from Professor Ngai’ historical outline of it of the U.S. immigration policy. In particular, Professor Ngai discussion illuminated how the immigration policy has been a bipartisan policy unearthing the historical roots of Trump’s politically motivated, xenophobic, Islamophobic, and racist executive order to bar refugees and immigrants from seven countries with large Muslim populations. I like to urge you to listen to this enlightening interview which can be accessed at “Behind the News” archive of February 2, 2017. Please note that the interview begins after the first news summary the precedes it and last for about 7 minutes (start listening at minute 7 on the dial bar).
Here is a biographical sketch of Professor Ngai taken from her Columbia University website:
“Mae M. Ngai, Professor of History and Lung Family Professor of Asian American Studies, is a U.S. legal and political historian interested in questions of immigration, citizenship, and nationalism. She is author of the award winning Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (2004) and The Lucky Ones: One Family and the Extraordinary Invention of Chinese America (2010). Ngai has written on immigration history and policy for the Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Nation, and the Boston Review. Before becoming a historian she was a labor-union organizer and educator in New York City, working for District 65-UAW and the Consortium for Worker Education. She is now working on Yellow and Gold: The Chinese Mining Diaspora, 1848-1908, a study of Chinese gold miners and racial politics in the nineteenth-century California, the Australian colony of Victoria, and the South African Transvaal.”
For those interested in further reading, I like to recommend Professor Ngai’s Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Princeton University Press, 2oo4; new paperback edition, 2014). Also, a review of the book appears in the fine review essay of four books on the history of immigration policy by Tamar Jacoby which I have already posted on OPITW (see, “The Myth of the Falling Sky: Review of Four Books on Immigration Policy”)