Unlike the 1930s, when the United States tragically failed to open its doors to Europeans fleeing Nazism, the country admitted over three million refugees during the Cold War. This dramatic reversal gave rise to intense political and cultural battles, pitting refugee advocates against determined opponents who at times successfully slowed admissions. The first comprehensive historical exploration of American refugee affairs from the midcentury to the present, Americans at the Gate explores the reasons behind the remarkable changes to American refugee policy, laws, and programs.
Carl Bon Tempo looks at the Hungarian, Cuban, and Indochinese refugee crises, and he examines major pieces of legislation, including the Refugee Relief Act and the 1980 Refugee Act. He argues that the American commitment to refugees in the post-1945 era occurred not just because of foreign policy imperatives during the Cold War, but also because of particular domestic developments within the United States such as the Red Scare, the Civil Rights Movement, the rise of the Right, and partisan electoral politics. Using a wide variety of sources and documents, Americans at the Gate considers policy and law developments in connection with the organization and administration of refugee programs.
Carl J. Bon Tempo is assistant professor of history at the State University of New York at Albany.
"The author is adept at unraveling the complex underpinnings and evolution of this postwar 'American identity,' utilizing an impressive range of archival and published sources. . . . For those specializing in post-WW II US history, this is an essential contribution."--K.A. Tyvela, Choice
"Carl J. Bon Tempo has done a solid overall job of examining the acceptance of refugees into the US during the Cold War. His book is concise and historically accurate. . . . It deserves consideration by scholars of human rights, migration, and foreign policy. It provides a good base for dispersing information and facts to students as well and should be useful in undergraduate courses for this purpose."--Samuel S. Stanton, Jr., Law and Politics Book Review
"In the post-war period, the United States admitted millions of refugees. In this ambitious book, Carl J. Bon Tempo set out to explain how and why this new American approach to refugee affairs developed and evolved between the early 1950s and the late 1980s. In doing so, the author decided to go beyond foreign policy imperatives to confront a multiplicity of factors, weighing the evolution of their relative significance. Set in the Cold War context, the impact of anticommunism at home and abroad constitutes the main element of this study. Indeed, the propaganda value of accepting refugees fleeing communism remained central to US policy and manifest in the persistence of the 'refugee equals European anticommunist' equation. Bon Tempo's study of how this equation evolved and receded--without totally disappearing over the period--is a major contribution of this book."--Cold War History
Table of Contents:
List of Illustrations ix
INTRODUCTION: Americans at the Gate 1
CHAPTER 1: "The Age of the Uprooted Man": The United States and Refugees, 1900-1952 11
CHAPTER 2: "A Mystic Maze of Enforcement": The Refugee Relief Program 34
CHAPTER 3: "From Hungary, New Americans": The United States and Hungarian Refugees 60
CHAPTER 4: "Half a Loaf": The Failure of Refugee Policy and Law Reform, 1957-1965 86
CHAPTER 5: "They Are Proud People": The United States and Refugees from Cuba, 1959-1966 106
CHAPTER 6: "The Soul of Our Sense of Nationhood": Human Rights and Refugees in the 1970s 133
CHAPTER 7: Reform and Retrenchment: The Refugee Act of 1980 and the Reagan Administration's Refugee Policies 167
EPILOGUE: The United States and Refugees after the Cold War 197