Williamson_Opinion
Reviews

Myths and Mistakes

What all the wise men promised has not happened,
and what all the damned fools said would happen has come to pass."

—Lord Melbourne

In this highly informative book, Chilton Williamson, Jr., walks us through the tortuous history of American immigration policy. Along the way he draws attention to critical milestones, such as the 1924 Naturalization Act and the congressional legislation since 1965 bearing on immigration and nationality. Williamson relates these and other legislative attempts to deal with immigration to a social and economic context. But even more importantly, he looks at the cultural and emotional circumstances surrounding "immigration reforms." This historical thinking is entirely justified. Not all immigration legislation has followed economic logic in the manner of the Naturalization Act of 1924. When in the early 1920's the United States had enough unskilled labor and many feared the socially disruptive effects of further lower-class immigration, particularly on radicalized American workers, Congress moved to reduce the immigration rates. In 1965, when Congress supported expanded immigration from what turned out to be the Third World, it clearly was not following any general economic interest. It may have been supplying some businessmen with cheap labor, but this came at the expense of the minorities and immigrants already here, and increased...

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