Immigrant Justice

Portal Page

The U.S. has long been considered “a nation of immigrants.” However, the question of who those immigrants are and where they come from, has provided fertile ground for exclusionary and bigoted policies for over 200 years. From the late 18th Century’s Alien and Sedition Acts and the Chinese Exclusion Act signed into law nearly 100 years later, to explicitly racist national origin quotas that weren’t repealed until the 1960s, discrimination has been baked into U.S. immigration policy with the goal of maintaining a white-majority population.

The fact that the U.S. will no longer be a majority white country sometime in the mid-21st century has reinvigorated nativist anxieties present in the U.S. since its founding. A well-funded and organized constellation of organizations with direct ties to racist eugenics and white nationalism are now at the forefront of efforts to slow this demographic trend. Their primary goals: significantly reducing authorized and unauthorized immigration and malign the existence of immigrants already in the U.S.

These efforts are the latest expression of policies evidencing xenophobia’s influence on U.S. policy. And its current manifestations—workplace abuses, the separation of families, and the further expansion of mass incarceration, among other things—have wide-reaching and adverse effects for both immigrants and their U.S.-born neighbors.

Top Resources

Defending Immigrant Justice Activist Resource Kit (ARK)
This kit was designed to provide social justice activists with the information they need to counter attacks from the Right, in this case attacks on the human rights and dignity of immigrants in the United States.

One Year In: A Q&A with Tarso Luis Ramos
On the anniversary of Donald Trump’s inauguration, PRA Executive Director Tarso Luís Ramos talks about some of what’s changed in the past year, and what progressives should be alert to going forward.

Donald Trump and Manufacturing the Muslim Menace
Trump’s first week in office was punctuated by an executive order to ban travelers from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the U.S. for 90 days, and refugee admissions for 120 days. Under the order, Syrian refugees are banned indefinitely. This has all been done under the guise of “national security,” spearheaded by men with a history of anti-Muslim ideology.

‘Trumping’ Democracy: Right-Wing Populism, Fascism, and the Case for Action
The candidacy of Donald Trump has prompted a vigorous public debate over whether or not Trump is flirting with fascism. Some analysts suggest his political dance partner is leading him to the tune of right-wing populism. Other analysts say Trump’s marriage to fascism already has been consummated. Either way, Trump is stomping on the dance floor of democracy in a way that could collapse it into splinters.

Globalization and NAFTA Caused Migration from Mexico
Since NAFTA’s passage in 1993, the U.S. Congress has debated and passed several new trade agreements—with Peru, Jordan, Chile, and the Central American Free Trade Agreement. At the same time, Congress has debated immigration policy as though those trade agreements bore no relationship to the waves of displaced people migrating to the U.S., looking for work. Meanwhile, heightened anti-immigrant hysteria has increasingly demonized those migrants, leading to measures to deny them jobs, rights, or any equality with people living in the communities around them.

Of Bombs and Wombs: Nativist Myths of Weaponized Fertility
Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is a virulently nativist organization that began by couching its racist agenda in unscientific environmentalist arguments for shrinking the immigrant population in the United States. FAIR is not alone in exploiting fears of climate change and resource scarcity to foster anti-immigrant sentiment and shape anti-immigrant legislation, but it is spearheading the charge.

Reclaiming Stolen Wages: The Koreatown Immigrant Workers’ Association
Los Angeles’ low-wage workers face rampant wage theft and other wage-and-hour violations. A 2010 study by UCLA researchers found that the nearly three quarters of a million low-wage workers in Los Angeles County “regularly experience violations of basic laws that mandate a minimum wage and overtime pay and are frequently forced to work off the clock or during their breaks.” Respondents to the survey used in the study reported losing an average of $39.81 out of a weekly average wage of $318—meaning their employers stole an average of 12.5 percent of their earnings every week.