Three Worlds of Relief examines the role of race and immigration in the development of the American social welfare system by comparing how blacks, Mexicans, and European immigrants were treated by welfare policies during the Progressive Era and the New Deal. Taking readers from the turn of the twentieth century to the dark days of the Depression, Cybelle Fox finds that, despite rampant nativism, European immigrants received generous access to social welfare programs. The communities in which they lived invested heavily in relief. Social workers protected them from snooping immigration agents, and ensured that noncitizenship and illegal status did not prevent them from receiving the assistance they needed. But that same helping hand was not extended to Mexicans and blacks. Fox reveals, for example, how blacks were relegated to racist and degrading public assistance programs, while Mexicans who asked for assistance were deported with the help of the very social workers they turned to for aid.
Drawing on a wealth of archival evidence, Fox paints a riveting portrait of how race, labor, and politics combined to create three starkly different worlds of relief. She debunks the myth that white America's immigrant ancestors pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, unlike immigrants and minorities today. Three Worlds of Relief challenges us to reconsider not only the historical record but also the implications of our past on contemporary debates about race, immigration, and the American welfare state.
Cybelle Fox is assistant professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the coauthor of Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings.
"Thoroughly researched and well written, the book enhances the literature on immigration and ethnicity."--Choice
"Three Worlds of Relief covers new territory in social welfare history and will interest academics and students in the field. Of particular importance to the social work profession is the author's attention to the role that social workers played in advocating both for progressive legislation and practice, except in the West and Southwest."--Marguerite G. Rosenthal, Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare
"Three Worlds of Relief is theoretically important, empirically rich, and a major contribution to scholarship on race, immigration, and welfare policy. Fox brings together the experiences of Mexicans, white immigrants, and African Americans into a single account, in the process enriching current knowledge of each group's history in the United States and illuminating how these histories fed into government policy. Three Worlds of Relief is an outstanding work of scholarship. Fox traces the distinct paths of blacks, Mexicans, and white immigrants as they were incorporated into the American welfare state in the key decades culminating in the New Deal. Her argument is fresh and original, her research meticulous, and her prose elegant. Three Worlds of Relief is an intellectual tour de force that sets a new scholarly agenda"--Desmond King, author of Separate and Unequal: African Americans and the U.S. Federal Government
Table of Contents:
Chapter 1: Race, Immigration, and the American Welfare State 1
Chapter 2: Three Worlds of Race, Labor, and Politics 19
Chapter 3: Three Worlds of Relief 52
Chapter 4: The Mexican Dependency Problem 73
Chapter 5: No Beggar Spirit 95
Chapter 6: Deporting the Unwelcome Visitors 124
Chapter 7: Repatriating the Unassimilable Aliens 156
Chapter 8: A Fair Deal or a Raw Deal? 188
Chapter 9: The WPA and the (Short-Lived) Triumph of Nativism 214
Chapter 10: A New Deal for the Alien 250
Chapter 11: The Boundaries of Social Citizenship 281
Abbreviations in the Notes 295