This book traces the origins of the “illegal alien” in American law and society, explaining why and how illegal migration became the central problem in U.S. immigration policy—a process that profoundly shaped ideas and practices about citizenship, race, and state authority in the twentieth century. Mae Ngai offers a close reading of the legal regime of restriction that commenced in the 1920s—its statutory architecture, judicial genealogies, administrative enforcement, differential treatment of European and non-European migrants, and long-term effects. She shows that immigration restriction, particularly national-origin and numerical quotas, remapped America both by creating new categories of racial difference and by emphasizing as never before the nation’s contiguous land borders and their patrol.
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Awards and Recognition
- Winner of the 2005 Lora Romero First Book Publication Prize, American Studies Association
- Winner of the 2005 Frederick Jackson Turner Award, Organization of American Historians
- Honorable Mention for the 2005 Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award, Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights
- Co-Winner of the 2004 History Book Award, Association for Asian American Studies
- Co-Winner of the 2004 First Book Prize, Berkshire Conference of Women Historians
- Winner of the 2004 Littleton-Griswold Prize, American Historical Association
- One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2004
- Winner of the 2004 Theodore Saloutos Book Award, Immigration and Ethnic History Society