Tuesday, January 12, 2021

America Through Nazi Eyes

This 2019 Dissent article "America Through Nazi Eyes" provides fascinating information about the US influence on Nazi immigration policies, but it also contains two errors in its discussion of the US policies.

1. The Naturalization Act of 1790 didn't limit immigration to “free white person[s]"; it denied immigrants of color the ability to become citizens through naturalization, as its title indicates. In other words, immigrants of color could immigrate here, have their labor exploited here, and pay taxes here, but they couldn't become citizens.

2. Chinese people weren't all "excluded from citizenship in the late 1800s." Most were excluded from citizenship, and almost all were barred from immigrating here, but in fact there were Chinese-American citizens.

People of Chinese origin automatically became citizens if they were born here, based on the 14th Amendment (as upheld by the Supreme Court in Wong Kim Ark, 1898). But Chinese immigrants couldn't become citizens through naturalization; the Naturalization Act of 1870 extended the ability to naturalize to "aliens of African nativity and to persons of African descent," but not to other immigrants of color. And the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 completely barred Chinese laborers from entering the country, although some more privileged Chinese still could come here.

These may not seem like major distinctions, but it's important to understand that while the US originally had racist limitations on naturalization, it didn't limit immigration itself until later. The first federal laws limiting immigration appeared in the late 19th century with the anti-Chinese legislation.

Bus Station, Durham, NC, 1940. Photo: Jack Delano/Library of Congress

America Through Nazi Eyes
By Omer Aziz, Dissent
Winter 2019

In September 1933, an important policy document known as the Prussian Memorandum began circulating among lawmakers and jurists of the Third Reich.[...]

Read the full article:


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