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date: 25 April 2017

The Repeal of Asian Exclusion

Summary and Keywords

Laws barring Asians from legal immigration and naturalization in the United States began with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and expanded to include all other Asian groups by 1924. Beginning in World War II, U.S. lawmakers began to dismantle the Asian exclusion regime in response to growing international pressure and scrutiny of America’s racial policies and practices. The Japanese government sought to use the U.S. Asian exclusion laws to disrupt the Sino-American alliance of World War II, causing Washington officials to recognize these laws as a growing impediment to international diplomacy and the war effort. Later, the Soviet Union and other communist powers cited U.S. exclusion policies as evidence of American racial hypocrisy during the Cold War.

A diverse group of actors championed the repeal of Asian exclusion laws over the 1940s and early 1950s. They included former American missionaries to Asia, U.S. and Asian state officials, and Asian and Asian American activists. The movement argued for repeal legislation as an inexpensive way for the United States to demonstrate goodwill, counter foreign criticism, and rehabilitate America’s international image as a liberal democracy. Drawing upon the timely language and logic of geopolitics, advocates lobbied Congressional lawmakers to pass legislation ending the racial exclusion of Asians from immigration and naturalization eligibility, in support of U.S. diplomatic and security interests abroad.

Keywords: Asian Americans, Chinese, Chinese Exclusion Act, Cold War, exclusion, Filipinos, foreign policy, immigration, Indian, Japanese, Korean, Magnuson Act, McCarran-Walter Act, repeal, restriction

Overview of the Repeal Movement

The movement for repeal can be divided into four main phases. The first was the campaign to repeal Chinese exclusion during World War II, the success of which inspired and guided subsequent campaigns for repeal; Congress and President Franklin Roosevelt alike acknowledged the importance of the Sino-American alliance in facilitating this first victory. Mindful of the demonstrated power of geopolitics to drive racial reform, in the second stage, Asian colonial groups—Indians, Filipinos, and Koreans—in the United States entwined their immigration and naturalization appeals with longer-standing diasporic advocacy for homeland independence. In the lobby for rights, colonial status could alternately help or hinder legislative progress. The success of Indian and Filipino legislation with the 1946 Luce-Celler Act contrasted sharply with the failure of a concurrent Korean measure. The third phase of the movement brought the formal end of Asian exclusion with the Cold War campaigns for repeal, in which Japanese American activists attempted new forms of ethnic lobbying in the wake of the community’s wartime internment. In the fourth phase, decades of activism for general immigration reform culminated in the 1965 Immigration Act, or Hart-Celler Act, which eliminated the national origins quota system and replaced it with preferences based on job skills and familial relationships. Only this fourth phase would truly transform Asian immigration; the quotas granted in the first three were so small as to have symbolic value only. The 1965 Immigration Act ushered in unprecedented waves of Asian and Latin American immigration, transforming the demographics of the American nation.

Origins of Asian Exclusion in the United States

Asian exclusion in the United States began with the 1875 Page Law and the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, which restricted the immigration of select groups of Chinese. Building on the “Asiatic Barred Zone” established by legislation passed in 1917, the 1924 Immigration Act completed the legal exclusion of Asians from both immigration and naturalization eligibility by making the ability to immigrate to the U.S. contingent upon a person’s ability to claim American citizenship. Given existing racial restrictions limiting naturalization to peoples of European and African descent, legal Asian immigration effectively ceased at that time. Wholesale Asian exclusion remained in effect for the next two decades until the passage of the 1943 Magnuson Act, popularly known as the Chinese Exclusion Repealer, began chipping away at the regime, and separate campaigns sprang up in pursuit of similar rights for Indians, Koreans, and Japanese, among other Asian peoples.

As a U.S. territory (1898–1934) and, later, a U.S. commonwealth (1934–1946), the Philippines never came under complete exclusion in the same way as did other Asian powers. Notably, due to their special status as American nationals, Filipinos were exempted from the 1917 “Asiatic Barred Zone” as well as the 1924 Immigration Act’s exclusion provisions. Indeed, Filipinos migrated to the continental United States without restriction until 1934, when the Tydings-McDuffie Act, also known as the Philippine Independence Act, changed the terms. In addition to laying out a ten-year timeline for Filipino independence, the law cut Filipino migration to the United States to fifty persons a year and rendered Filipinos ineligible for U.S. citizenship by reclassifying them as aliens (as Asiatics, Filipinos became “aliens ineligible to U.S. citizenship”). The legislation was the result of an unlikely coalition, in which American nativists and protectionists who desired to stop Filipino migration to the United States joined with Filipino nationalists and American anti-colonialists to lobby Congress for passage of the law. U.S. lawmakers explained the nominal quota of fifty persons as a gesture, recognizing the Philippines’ state of transition from a U.S. colony to a sovereign Asian state. The 1934 Act is sometimes referred to as the “Filipino Exclusion Act,” but technically, Filipinos were never completely excluded from migrating to the United States. In light of this distinction, between 1934 and 1946, legislative campaigns for Filipino rights focused on naturalization.

The American Pivot Toward Asia

Two important developments gave the mid-century movement for repeal the momentum to achieve success. The first was Washington’s foreign policy pivot, or reorientation, toward Asia in the late 1930s. Slow at first, the pivot accelerated after World War II, as Asia became the first site of postwar decolonization and of armed conflict in America’s Cold War battle against communist powers. The second was Washington’s heightened concern with managing America’s image in the world, particularly with regard to race and race relations.

Scholars continue to debate the precise turning point in U.S.-Asia relations, when Washington began to prioritize Asia in the context of America’s international interests. A consensus of scholars dates the shift to the late 1930s, in response to Japanese expansionism and wide-scale devastation in China. If Asian weakness and American indifference contributed to the longevity of Asian exclusion as a feature of U.S. immigration and naturalization policy, America’s foreign policy pivot toward Asia made repeal politically viable as a necessary response to America’s international critics and foreign enemies.

In the second major development that laid the groundwork for repeal, America’s record on race, namely, its domestic policies and treatment of racial minorities, became a particular focus of Washington’s anxieties as policymakers sought to advance America’s international image as a model of democracy. During World War II, Japanese propaganda targeting the Asian exclusion laws as evidence of U.S. racial hypocrisy enabled supporters of repeal to redefine the exclusion laws as a hindrance to wartime diplomacy. After 1947, Soviet and other Communist attacks on America’s race record replaced Japanese propaganda as evidence of the urgency of repeal.

The Magnuson Act of 1943: World War II and the Repeal of Chinese Exclusion

The 1943 Magnuson Act repealed the thirteen Chinese exclusion laws passed between 1882 and 1913, reopened the United States to nominal Chinese immigration with a race-based immigration quota of 105 persons, and granted naturalization rights to an Asian group for the first time in American history. It marked both an end and a beginning. On the one hand, passage of the 1943 legislation, popularly known as the “Chinese Exclusion Repealer,” culminated decades of activism by Chinese officials, Chinese Americans, and white American advocates to overturn America’s exclusionary policies toward Chinese people. Scholars, including Lucy Salyer, Charles McClain, and Erika Lee, have documented the myriad ways that persons of Chinese descent and their allies challenged, resisted, and in the process, reshaped the emerging legal regime of exclusion.1 The anti-American boycott of 1905, which began in Shanghai and spread across China, Southeast Asia, and the United States, marked a high point in protest as ethnic Chinese across the diaspora banded together in a transnational display of collective opposition to U.S. Chinese exclusion laws.2 At the same time, the success of the campaign for Chinese exclusion repeal inaugurated the movement to repeal the Asian exclusion laws in the United States, marking the first step in the longer process of dismantling the Asian exclusion regime. The campaign for the Magnuson Act guided the organization, argumentation, and strategy of successive legislative efforts. Other Asian groups made similar demands, couching their arguments in the language and logic of geopolitics as a basis for legislative reform in response to this victory.

A confluence of international and domestic developments during the World War II period made the repeal of the Chinese exclusion laws politically viable as never before. The Sino-American alliance accelerated Washington’s foreign policy shift toward Asia already in progress, and a low point in the U.S.-China military alliance in the Pacific War created an ideal moment for advocates to call for repeal. America’s entry into World War II following Pearl Harbor made American and China, led by the Nationalist regime of Chiang Kaishek, formal military allies and partners for the first time in the Pacific War against Japan. Never before had Americans fought alongside an Asian power as ostensible equals, and never before had U.S. policymakers had such incentive to maintain a strong relationship with China. Washington’s top priority to defeat Germany on the war’s Western front, known in shorthand as the “Europe First” policy, threatened this partnership. Throughout 1942, Washington diverted the bulk of U.S. troops and resources to Europe, leaving the war-weary Chinese to bear the brunt of Allied casualties in Asia. As U.S. promises of aid and supplies repeatedly failed to materialize, Chinese morale fell to an all-time low.

Japan sought to exploit this weakness with radio campaigns singling out America’s history of exclusionary laws against Asians, and Chinese, in particular. In messages aired throughout occupied Asia, Japanese-controlled radio derided American claims to democracy, while calling on Asian audiences to unite under Japanese leadership against the forces of white, Western imperialism. The special publication and distribution of a pamphlet excerpting similar Japanese broadcasts for the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization in 1943 ignited alarm among Congressional lawmakers.3 Its contents identified America’s exclusion laws as a major impediment to U.S. wartime goals in the Pacific. More than any other single factor, these attacks on America’s anti-Chinese and anti-Asian laws strengthened the case for repeal of Chinese exclusion. Impressed with the necessity of keeping China in the war at all costs, Roosevelt and the U.S. State Department turned to concessionary, symbolic gestures to reassure Chinese officials of America’s commitment to the Pacific front. In January 1943, Washington renounced its extraterritoriality privileges in China with an official abrogation of the unequal treaties. In the fall of that year, Roosevelt lamented the Chinese Exclusion laws as a “historic mistake” and called on Congressional lawmakers to pass the Magnuson bill for the “cause of winning the war and of establishing a secure peace,” signaling his view that repeal should be another gesture to strengthen the Sino-American alliance.4

Diverse groups on both sides of the issues were listening. Within government circles, U.S. State Department officials and other internationalists in the executive branch joined a small bipartisan core of Congressmen and women to draft and sponsor legislation, petition committees, and secure powerful endorsements in the effort to convince lawmakers to vote for repeal. At the heart of the Magnuson bill’s success was a pressure group called the Citizens Committee to Repeal Chinese Exclusion and Place Immigration on a Quota Basis (hereafter, Citizens Committee).5 Between the spring and fall of 1943, the group capitalized upon public support for China to push repeal through a “conservative coalition” of restrictionist Southern Democrats and Western Republicans, who maintained a majority on the committees overseeing immigration and naturalization policies.6 Outside Washington, groups that had long protested Chinese immigration—organized labor, veterans’ organizations, West Coast interests, and self-described patriotic societies—continued to oppose any relaxation of restrictions as a threat to the American nation.

The Citizens Committee proved a formidable lobbying force. Founded by New York-based publisher Richard Walsh in 1943, the Committee brought together some of the most powerful white American friends of China around a common cause. The Citizens Committee channeled diverse forces working for repeal into a powerful force for change on Capitol Hill.7 As political scientist Fred Riggs noted, as a “catalytic” pressure group, the Citizens Committee did not generate new public interest in China so much as it coordinated the efforts of other groups already seeking repeal.8 Far from challenging the racial ideas and prejudices that underwrote exclusion, it relied on a strategy of political expediency and pragmatism to win the support of Congressional lawmakers. Under Walsh’s leadership, the Citizens Committee launched a sweeping publicity campaign using churches, direct mailings, radio broadcasts, and strategically placed editorials to rally public support for the Chinese cause. They timed their efforts to capitalize on positive media attention to a visit by Soong Meiling, the U.S.-educated wife of Chinese Nationalist leader General Chiang Kaishek, to the United States. Behind the scenes, Chinese officials supported Soong’s appeals for increased U.S. assistance to China, as well as lobbying for the repeal measure through private diplomatic channels as a much-needed boon to the Sino-American alliance.

The Magnuson bill passed U.S. Congress on December 17, 1943. In addition to making persons of Chinese descent racially eligible for U.S. citizenship, the law granted China a race-based immigration quota of 105 persons per year.9 (By way of comparison, annual immigration quotas for European nations ranged from the thousands to the ten of thousands and were based on nationality rather than race.) The symbolic quota was sufficient for Washington’s purposes. Through such a “manifestation on the part of the American people of their affection and regard” for the Chinese people, President Franklin Roosevelt declared that the “war effort in the Far East [could] now be carried on with a greater vigor and a larger understanding of our common purpose.”10

The Luce-Celler Act of 1946: Indian and Filipino Exclusion Repeal as an Anti-Colonial Imperative

The problem of colonialism made the Luce-Celler Act of 1946 fundamentally different in kind from the Chinese measure that preceded it. Passed by the U.S. Congress on July 4, 1946, the Celler bill granted immigration and naturalization rights to Indians upon the national independence of India from Great Britain. Due to a technicality, the Celler bill was combined with a Filipino naturalization bill that had passed Congress two days earlier. The Filipino legislation made all natives of the Philippines eligible for U.S. citizenship upon the islands’ independence on July 4, 1946. Many Washington observers described the merging of the two measures as fitting insofar as both stemmed from a common desire by Washington to affirm America’s commitment to the self-determination of Asian peoples.11 Not simply a matter of negotiation between sovereign states, campaigns to extend rights to Indians and Filipinos became entwined with India’s struggle for independence from Great Britain and the United States’ own negotiations over the timeline and terms of Philippines independence. Among the most pressing concerns for Filipinos living in the United States was the question of whether they would ever regain their eligibility to naturalize as U.S. citizens. While supporters of both Indian and Filipino legislation emulated the Chinese repeal campaign’s appeal to geopolitics, the two colonial efforts appealed specifically to America’s stated commitment to anti-colonial nationalism, even as they emphasized Washington’s broader diplomatic imperative to demonstrate goodwill to Asian peoples.

Modeled after the Magnuson Act, the Celler bill for Indians had two main provisions: an immigration quota for India of one hundred persons per year, and citizenship eligibility for all natives of India. As colonies across Asia moved toward independence, advocates of the measure played on the anxieties of U.S. officials regarding the loyalties of Asian peoples newly able to ally with the United States or its adversaries. They argued that legislation giving rights to Indians and other newly independent Asian peoples to immigrate to the United States would invite support and uphold America’s claims as articulated in the Atlantic Charter and elsewhere, to support the self-determination of all peoples. Indian government officials in Delhi put pressure on U.S. officials both privately and through diplomatic channels.

In the United States, the India League, under the leadership of Sikh merchant J. J. Singh, publicly took up the fight for the Celler bill in early 1944. Time magazine would dub Singh a “one-man lobby” for India in 1944. From the start, Singh and other India League advocates explicitly framed the fight for the Luce-Celler bill as a symbolic support for Indian independence. If India’s future lay in achieving equal status and recognition in the international community, they argued, an American bill granting Indians nominal parity with European peoples under U.S. immigration and naturalization advanced the goal of Indian independence as a goodwill gesture affirming the nationalist aspirations of Indians everywhere. This argument represented a continuum with the group’s founding principle; Indians living in New York City founded the group in 1937 to “interpret India and America to each other.” As the organization gave increasing attention to the cause of repeal in the early 1940s, several mainstays of the Chinese repeal campaign, including Richard Walsh, who served as chairman of the India League’s executive committee, joined the League’s leadership.

Supporters of the Celler bill were not the only ones to draw a connection between repeal and Indian independence. At times, critics of the legislation used the same logic to oppose passage on the grounds that repeal would strain America’s relations with Britain. One U.S. lawmaker, for example, objected that the British might interpret passage of the act as an American attempt to “alienate the affections of some of their oppressed Empire people.”12 Others claimed that conscience barred them from voting for the Luce-Celler measure in advance of a formal statement from Whitehall. While the voting records of a number of these lawmakers suggest that they would have opposed any bill to liberalize immigration on principle, India’s colonial status offered ready grounds for opposition.

The bill stalled in Congressional committee, prompting Indian government officials in Delhi to intervene in the spring of 1945. The private lobbying of the Indian representative to Washington, Sir Girja Bajpai, proved critical to reviving the legislation after restrictionists on the U.S. House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization tabled it. In the wake of Germany’s surrender that May, the Allied powers shifted their focus to India as a vital military partner in the remaining Pacific battle against Japan. Recognizing that tensions with the Indian Congress threatened the war effort, the British Government at Whitehall extended an official endorsement for the Luce-Celler bill in May 194, as a “gesture of friendship” honoring India’s past military contributions and anticipating its future role in finishing the fight.13

Whitehall’s approval was the lynchpin. With British support assured, the India League and its advocates moved quickly to expedite another hearing on the Luce-Celler bill before the Congressional session ended. The House Immigration Committee convened within weeks and reported the measure out favorably in late June 1945. One month later, British parliamentarian Clement Attlee replaced staunch imperialist Winston Churchill as the British Prime Minister; Attlee accelerated the decolonization process, and U.S. policymakers soon recognized Indian independence as imminent. That fall, the Luce-Celler bill passed the full U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of nearly three to one. While restrictionists on the Senate Immigration Committee proved a roadblock, President Truman’s personal intervention prevented a stall, and the measure proceeded to the Senate floor for a vote in June 1946, where it passed easily. Truman signed the Luce-Celler bill into law on July 2, 1946. Its passage unleashed a wave of congratulatory and jubilant media reports in both the United States and India. Upon Pakistan’s creation in 1947, Congress quietly extended the immigration quota and citizenship eligibility given Indians to Pakistanis as well.

Spurred by the success of Chinese exclusion repeal efforts, Filipino community activists and their allies focused their efforts on securing naturalization privileges for those Filipinos who were long-time residents of the United States. (The Tydings-McDuffie Act of 1934 had already established a Filipino immigration quota of fifty persons a year.) The November 1944 testimony of Diosdado Yap, a Filipino American scholar living in Hawaii, reflected the campaign’s emphasis on the Philippines’ special relationship with the United States, and Filipinos’ long-time loyalty to their imperial overseer. Speaking before the U.S. House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, Yap argued that America’s central role in democratizing and modernizing the Philippines gave the superpower a special responsibility for the welfare of the Filipino people. As “former residents of a country that has been under the American flag for more than forty-five years, a people who has absorbed and practiced the American way of life,” he insisted, Filipino nationals deserved the same rights as “any other true American.”14

As in the Indian case, advocates hailed from both sides of the Pacific; representatives of the Philippines’ commonwealth government testified at the hearings, calling for passage as a boon to the relationship of the U.S. and the Philippines at a critical juncture, when the Philippines was about to become independent. Like the Indian measure, the Filipino naturalization bill passed the House in 1945 but stalled in Senate committee, where it languished for a year. The bill passed the full Senate on July 2, 1946, and was combined with the Indian measure and signed into law on July 4, the same day that the Philippines formally gained independence. The same day, President Truman issued a presidential proclamation (No. 2696) setting the Philippines’ immigration quota at one hundred persons per year. Notably, unlike the Chinese and Indian quotas, the Filipino quota was based on nationality and not race; thus, persons of Filipino descent born outside of the Philippines would be charged to the quota of the birth country rather than to the Philippines’ quota of one hundred persons a year. Congressional supporters explained the move as Filipinos’ rightful entitlement as American nationals who had demonstrated exceptional loyalty to the United States in World War II’s Pacific theater against Japan.

The Judd Bill: The Origins of Wholesale Repeal

By the late 1940s, Japanese and Koreans were the two major Asian groups still racially barred from immigration and naturalization eligibility. To address these remaining restrictions, Walter Judd, a Republican Congressman from Minnesota and former medical missionary to China, introduced the Judd bill to Congress in 1947. It proposed to eliminate all racial restrictions to U.S. citizenship and to replace the “Asiatic Barred Zone” of the 1917 Immigration Act with the “Asia-Pacific Triangle,” a geographical designation that encompassed all of Asia. Under the proposed plan, all countries and colonies that fell within the Triangle would receive annual quotas of approximately one hundred persons per year, but as with the Chinese and Indian quotas, these would be based on race (country of ancestral origin) rather than nationality (actual country of birth).15 This emphasis on race would have ensured that the number of immigrants entering the U.S. from Asia would never increase significantly. Under this system, a person of Chinese ancestry entering the U.S. from Latin America, for example, would still count toward the Chinese quota regardless of nationality and place of birth, a restriction not placed on Europeans. While the naturalization provisions were relatively uncontroversial, even long-time advocates of broad-based repeal warned that the Judd bill’s immigration provisions were about “five years ahead of schedule.”16

The prediction proved accurate. Facing considerable opposition in Congress, the Judd bill never passed, and it preceded the successful passage of the McCarran-Walter Act by five years. While two versions of the measure passed the House in the late 1940s, both times the legislation languished in the Senate, its progress blocked by restrictionists on the Senate Judiciary Committee. In 1951, Francis Walter (R-PA) and Pat McCarran (D-NV) picked up the main Asian immigration and naturalization provisions of the Judd Bill in an omnibus immigration bill.

The McCarran-Walter Act of 1952: Repeal as a Cold War Measure

As a featured witness at a series of Congressional hearings on both the Judd and McCarran-Walter bills through the late 1940s and early 1950s, Walter Judd articulated the significance of repeal for U.S. Cold War security interests in a U.S.-occupied Japan and southern Korea. His appeals typically emphasized the measure’s advantages as powerful “ideological work” that would “win the people of the Far East to America’s side in the contest with Soviet Russia.”17 Judd made a compelling spokesman for repeal, having won his seat in Congress during World War II on the strength of his firsthand knowledge of China and East Asian affairs; by the late 1940s, many of his colleagues recognized him as an expert on Asia, as well as a staunch anticommunist. He and other supporters of repeal found willing listeners in a Washington increasingly focused on Asia.

The 1952 McCarran-Walter Immigration Act formally ended Asian exclusion as a feature of U.S. immigration policy, but the mixed provisions it inherited from the Judd bill reflected the ambivalent politics that enabled repeal’s success. The legislation’s co-sponsors, House Republican Francis Walter (R-PA) and Senate Democrat Pat McCarran (D-NV), were well-known anticommunists and restrictionists. Provisions within the Act reflected both of these tendencies; the legislation had the appearance of liberalization but actually circumscribed the rights and liberties of foreign-born Americans. The 1952 Act gave Asian powers, including Japan, immigration quotas. Japan received the largest annual immigration quota of 185 per year, while other Asian powers had quotas of 100. These numbers were nominal compared with the larger quotas many, particularly northern and western, European powers had enjoyed for decades. The Act retained the widely criticized national origins quota system as the main basis for immigration policy. Moreover, as in the Judd bill, while for persons of European descent, the national origins immigration quotas depended on one’s place of birth, for Asian peoples, the quotas were based on race.

The 1952 Act eliminated race as a basis for eligibility to naturalize as a U.S. citizen. Yet, in one of the provisions that undermined the liberalizing measures in the Act, it made it easier for the government to denaturalize persons on the grounds of national security. Building upon the national security provisions of an earlier anticommunist measure, the 1950 Internal Security Act, the McCarran-Walter Act also expanded the power of the federal government to exclude, deport, and detain aliens deemed subversive or seen as holding subversive views. In this regard, the legislation clearly reflected Washington’s overriding obsession with containing Communism both at home and abroad in Asia.

Contested Passage: The Role of the Japanese American Citizens League in Repeal

The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) featured prominently in campaigns for both the Judd and McCarran-Walter bills. More than 90 percent of the aliens the legislation would make eligible for U.S. citizenship were Issei, or first-generation immigrants of Japanese descent, making Japanese Americans the most zealous advocates for repeal. Over the late 1940s and early 1950s, the JACL’s Washington lobbyist, Mike Masaoka, displaced J.J. Singh of the India League as the banner holder in Washington for the cause of repeal. The JACL led the charge for the incorporation of naturalization provisions in the 1952 bill and continued to lobby for the bill’s passage in the face of criticism. For the League’s leaders, pragmatism remained the byword. In a spring 1952 New York Times letter to the editor, Masaoka described the Senate and House versions of the Walter-McCarran bill as “important and necessary reform measures . . . in keeping with [America’s] intelligent self-interest.” Charges of racism notwithstanding, he insisted that the bill’s “Asia-Pacific Triangle” formula represented a “long step forward . . . from absolute exclusion.” Reiterating the pragmatic approach of the JACL, he maintained that, while the measure was by no means perfect, “[t]o scrap improvements on the grounds of their not being ideal would frustrate the achievement of any gains whatsoever.”18 In other words, he argued on behalf of the JACL, an imperfect bill was preferable to none at all.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, and other Japanese American groups including the Nisei Progressives, all condemned the JACL’s support of the Act. The NAACP took issue with the McCarran-Walter omnibus legislation for its retention of the Judd bill’s discriminatory “colonial quota” restricting black migration from the Caribbean. Eastern and Southern European groups objected to the measure’s retention of a national origins quota system that severely disadvantaged their ancestral homelands in favor of northern and western European counterparts. Representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union, along with other progressive and liberal groups, decried the bill’s “repressive” national security clauses that strengthened the power of the government to detain and deport suspected subversives and other “undesirables.”19

Perhaps the most damning critique came from the White House, which vetoed the bill as soon as it passed both houses of Congress in June 1952. In his veto message, President Truman commended the omnibus bill’s elimination of racial barriers to immigration and U.S. citizenship, but insisted that these provisions did not outweigh the bill’s “un-American” elements.

[T]his most desirable provision comes before me embedded in a mass of legislation which would perpetuate injustices of long standing against many other nations of the world, hamper the efforts we are making to rally the men of the east and west alike to the cause of freedom, and intensify the repressive and inhumane aspects of our immigration procedures.20

Truman took special issue with the race-based nature of the Asian immigration quotas, calling it “invidious discrimination . . . without justification.” In the final analysis, the President concluded, the Act’s many “undesirable features” outweighed its “few improvements.” The “price is too high,” he wrote, and “in good conscience, I cannot agree to pay it.”21

JACL leaders stood by their decision to support the 1952 omnibus measure and actively lobbied Congress to override the President’s veto. The JACL’s associate national director, Samuel Ishikawa, successfully won the endorsements of three other Asian American organizations for the McCarran-Walter bill’s passage: the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, in a reversal of its prior opposition; the Korean National Association; and the Filipino Federation of America. While these groups were the exception to what was otherwise blanket opposition by Asian American groups, together with the JACL’s report they allowed lawmakers like Judd to cite Asian American support for the legislation as proof of its progressive nature. Later asked to account for the JACL’s position, the League’s associate director Richard Akagi insisted that the goal of Issei naturalization had been too urgent for the organization simply to wait for a less controversial bill before taking action.22 While “young people” might have had the choice to “stand on principle for another 10 to 15 years,” he maintained, aging Issei “in the twilight of their lives” did not have that option; if the JACL had waited another “5 to 6 years,” the fight itself would have become “meaningless” for those who stood to benefit most.23 In short, he concluded, the ends justified the means, even if the Issei’s gain had to come as part of a legislative package that was less than ideal.24

As historian David Reimers has noted, the Judd bill’s incorporation into the McCarran-Walter omnibus measure was strategic. The sponsors, staunch anticommunists, hoped that, in borrowing popular aspects of the Judd bill, they could offset the legislation’s other more controversial provisions and make the overall package more acceptable to a bipartisan audience.25 The strategy worked. Congress overrode the White House’s veto. The Act is widely recognized as one of the most controversial pieces of legislation in American history.

Legacy of the 1952 Law: Symbolic Repeal

As with the Magnuson Act and the Luce-Celler Act, the changes wrought by the McCarran-Walter Act’s immigration provisions were more symbolic than real. The nominal quotas did little to increase the number of Asians entering the United States. Rather, over the 1940s and 1950s, a dynamic emerged whereby U.S. intervention in Asia increasingly undermined restrictionist efforts at home, as an expanding American military and civilian presence in places like Korea, the Philippines, and Vietnam caused growing displacement and, in turn, facilitated new kinds of Asian immigration to the United States. These new arrivals came as G.I. brides, refugees, and child adoptees, among other non-quota designations.26 The advent of these new categories opened the door for unprecedented numbers of Asians to enter the United States. By 1964, no fewer than 119,677 Asians, comprising 90 percent of all Asians admitted to the United States over the previous decade, had come as non-quota immigrants.27

The Act’s naturalization provisions had wider impact. By striking down race as a basis for U.S. citizenship eligibility, the 1952 Act notably embedded the principle of color-blind citizenship as a feature of U.S. naturalization law.

The passage of 1952 McCarran-Walter Act gave energy and prominence to the bill’s liberal detractors. Whom Shall We Welcome (1953), a report issued by the President’s Commission on Immigration and Naturalization, created by President Truman after Congress overrode his veto, spelled out the liberal critique. It also laid out an expansive vision for reform that anticipated many of the changes to come in the 1965 Immigration and Nationality, or Hart-Celler, Act. The most notable of these was the elimination of the national origins quotas system as the basic structure of U.S. immigration policy in favor of uniform quotas across countries and the creation of preferred categories for individuals with family relationships to U.S. citizens and permanent residents or occupational skills needed by U.S. employers.28

The Immigration “Interregnum,” 1952–196529

Several major developments both at home and abroad shaped the immigration debate in America during the thirteen-year period between passage of the McCarran-Walter Act in 1952 and the enactment of the Hart-Celler Act in 1965. The first of these was the escalation of Cold War tensions, which cemented the centrality of national security concerns in discussion of immigration reform. A widening Sino-Soviet split added to Washington’s growing recognition of an Asian—and specifically, Chinese and North Korean—Communist threat independent of Moscow.30 During the same period, U.S. military involvement in Vietnam deepened, and debates in the United States over the future of that involvement deepened as well.

The admission of Hawaii into the Union as America’s fiftieth state in 1959 also represented a major development impacting immigration debates, by changing the culture of Congress. For the first time, U.S.-born citizens of Asian descent joined the elite ranks of the House and Senate as equal voting members.31 Hawaii had long served as a hotbed of lobbying and fundraising for the repeal campaigns. Now Chinese and Japanese American officials like Hiram Fong, Daniel Inouye, and (later) Spark Matsunaga led the fight for immigration reform firsthand from their positions of power on Capitol Hill; Fong did so as the only Hawaii Senator ever to serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversaw immigration and naturalization policy.32 They joined the handful of Asian American witnesses who spoke in support of immigration-related reform measures at executive and legislative hearings throughout the period from 1952 to 1965.33

While southern and eastern Euro-American groups directed their energies toward abolition of the national origins quotas and, to a lesser extent, refugee policy, Asian Americans focused on issues related to refugees and deportation in about equal measure. With Southern Democrats and conservative committee barons blocking comprehensive reform, immigration activists had the most success in lobbying for policy on admitting displaced persons into the United States. While their voting power never rivaled that of Euro-Americans, Chinese Americans skillfully leveraged their connections to both U.S. and Chinese Nationalist officials to press for the admission of Chinese under Congressional and executive refugee policies.34 Using the logic of anticommunism, the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association spearheaded campaigns for the inclusion of Chinese Nationalists fleeing Communist China under newly passed refugee legislation. Their moderate success included the 1953 Refugee Relief Act, permitting the entry of 2,777 Chinese, and a 1960 Fair Share Law allowing for the admission of 4,500 Chinese refugees from Hong Kong.35

Asian American activism in the arena of deportation policy sought to address injustices related to the government’s harassment and deportation of Asian-born individuals suspected of having Communist ties or holding Communist beliefs. The 1950 McCarran Security Act and 1952 McCarran-Walter Act together strengthened the government’s powers to deport and even denaturalize foreign-born subversives. Asian American organizations such as the Korean National Revolutionary Party in Los Angeles partnered with progressive groups like the American Civil Liberties Union to contest the constitutionality of these state practices and rally in support of Asian American civil rights.36 At the same time, groups including the Chinese American Citizens Association and the Nisei Progressives worked to defend suspected subversives within the Chinese and Japanese American communities, respectively.37

Ending the National Origins Quotas: The 1965 Immigration Act

The 1965 Hart-Celler Act marked a watershed in American history. The Act abolished the national origins quota system once and for all. It created in its place uniform quotas across countries as well as two categories of preferred immigrants; those individuals with family relationships to U.S. citizens and residents could enter the United States above the per-country caps, while individuals who possessed skills in occupations deemed in short-supply by the U.S. Department of Labor were given preference within the quota pool. The impact was transformative. In the 1950s, 153,000 immigrants (or 6 percent of the overall flow) entering the United States were of Asian descent; in the 1970s, those numbers had risen to 1.6 million or 35 percent of legal immigration.38 By 2000, 8.2 million Asians immigrated to the United States, accounting for more than a quarter of the total immigrant population.39

Scholars continue to debate whether the Act’s framers anticipated its dramatic consequences. According to historian David Reimers, the consequences of the legislation were sweeping, but they were not planned.40 More recently, legal scholar Gabriel Chin has challenged this view, arguing that lawmakers clearly recognized the likelihood of an influx of Asian immigrants to the United States and supported it nonetheless.41 Regardless of the vision of the framers of the 1965 Act, it has transformed the demographics of the United States. In 1965, the population of Asian Americans was approximately 1.2 million. By 2012, it was over 15 million, or roughly 5 percent of the general U.S. population, and international migration has driven the growth.42 That same year, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that Asians were the fastest-growing racial or ethnic group in America.43 By current projections, the Asian American population will reach 20 million by 2020, and 38 million, or one in ten Americans, by 2050.

Discussion of the Literature

The theme of exclusion has long dominated the historiography of Asian immigration to the United States. Historians have explored the origins of exclusion laws, their implementation and enforcement, as well as their impact on the experiences of Asians in America.44

The older scholarship is dominated by piecemeal studies of repeal acts affecting individual Asian groups. Diplomatic historians have long noted the significance of Chinese exclusion repeal for U.S.-China relations.45 Drawing from Chinese-language immigrant newspapers, Asian Americanist Renqui Yu illuminated the private lobbying efforts of Chinese in New York City beyond the public campaign in Washington, DC.46 Historian Karen Leong has examined the interest and role of the Roosevelt White House in passing repeal.47 The seminal work on the logistics and politics of the Chinese repeal campaign remains political scientist Fred Riggs’ Pressures on Congress (New York, 1950).48 Studies of repeal legislation for Indians include several chapters each in H. Brett Melendy’s Asians in America (Boston, 1977) and Premdatta Varma’s Indian Immigrants in U.S.A. (New Delhi, 1995).49 Bill Hosokawa and Mike Masaoka of the JACL both recorded firsthand accounts of Japanese American campaigning for the McCarran-Walter Act (1952).50

Legal scholars, and critical race theorists in particular, were the first to treat the repeal of the Asian exclusion laws as a coherent movement. Neil Gotanda considered the longer process of repeal through the lens of racial formation, or the racialization of Asian American actors.51 Another legal scholar, John Hayakawa Torok, connected repeal to international developments during the early Cold War years. Torok extended the interest-convergence principle of law professor Derrick Bell to explain the gradual speed and limited scope of the liberalization of U.S. immigration and naturalization policies toward Asian peoples in the years between 1943 and 1965.52

More recently, scholars of U.S. immigration and Asian American history have revisited the repeal laws as part of a broader scholarly effort to understand and track the changing terms of Asian Americans’ social and political incorporation into American society. Repeal had profound implications for Asian Americans’ access to housing and their representation in American cultural productions and literature; it also reshaped gender and family relations, and as well as ethnic identities and practices, within Asian American communities.53 In tracing the origins of the “model minority” idea, historian Ellen D. Wu has explored how the repeal of Chinese and, later, of Japanese and broader Asian exclusion laws helped lay the legal groundwork for Asian Americans’ transformation from “aliens ineligible to citizenship” to model minorities in the decades following World War II.54

Scholars have drawn explicit parallels between the postwar movements for African American civil rights and U.S. immigration reform toward Asia, stressing the common effect of U.S. Cold War concerns in simultaneously driving legislative change and constraining the scope of gains.55 Historian Mae Ngai has problematized the analogy, noting how differences of race and citizenship status infused black civil rights struggles with a distinct political valence relative to immigration reform.56 At present, a growing number of scholars are actively challenging that distinction and explicitly defining immigrants’ rights as a civil rights issue.57

Primary Sources

Congressional publications provide a wealth of information on the process and politics behind the repeal of the Asian exclusion laws in the United States. The remains the single best resource, and the recent digitization of Congressional hearings on the electronic database, ProQuest Congressional, makes it easy to search by keyword, witness name, and other criteria. These records provide witness lists, statements, and selected written correspondence—significantly, not only for those bills that passed but also for those that did not. Other government publications, like Whom Shall We Welcome (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office), the 1953 report of the President’s Commission on Immigration and Naturalization, are also readily accessible in both digital and hard copy form. John F. Kennedy’s book, Nation of Immigrants (New York: Anti-defamation League of B’nai B’rith, 1959), gives insight into the views he held as he took office.

Within the United States, many relevant archives are located in the Washington, DC area. The papers of Congressional sponsors contain a wealth of personal correspondence and provide valuable insight into their private activism and personal motivations behind the scenes and outside of Capitol Hill. With a few exceptions, the Library of Congress holds the personal papers of key legislative sponsors including the files of Clare Boothe Luce (R-CT), Emmanuel Celler (D-NY), and Hiram Fong (R-HI). The Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul possesses the collections left by Representative Walter Judd (R-MN), and the Hawaii State Archives in Honolulu have the papers of Hawaii Territorial Delegate Joseph Farrington (R-HI). Also in Hawaii, the University of Hawaii at Manoa is currently processing the personal papers of long-time U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI, 1963-2012) in the wake of his 2012 death. Spanning Inouye’s five decades in office, those records will take some time to organize, but they promise to offer a wealth of material for future scholars.

In the Washington, DC area, U.S. State Department files (Record Group 59) at the National Archives II in College Park, Maryland, contain documentary evidence of foreign pressures on Washington for reform and shed light on America’s role in international discussions of racial equality, particularly those that involved the United Nations. The papers of Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy, housed at their respective presidential libraries, offer insight into the executive’s role in lobbying for immigration reform. Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library has the papers of Herbert Lehman, former Governor of New York, one of the most prominent figures in campaigns to eliminate the national origins quota system after 1952.

Many of the organizations involved in the repeal movement also have their own archival collections. The Pearl S. Buck House in Perkasie, Pennsylvania, holds the records of the Citizens Committee to Repeal Chinese Exclusion, as well as selected papers of both Pearl Buck and Richard Walsh. The Japanese American Citizens League papers are split between the Japanese American National Library in San Francisco and the Japanese American Research Project papers at the University of California, Los Angeles. The Huntington Library in San Marino, California, has a small number of papers related to the Chinese American Citizens Alliance’s role in Asian immigration reform. Among private, non-state figures important to the movement for Asian exclusion repeal, the papers of the Japanese American Citizens League Washington representative, Mike Masaoka, are housed at his alma mater, the University of Utah, in Salt Lake City.

Further Reading

Brooks, Charlotte. Alien Neighbors, Foreign Friends: Asian Americans, Housing, and the Transformation of Urban California. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.Find this resource:

Cheng, Cindy. Citizens of Asian America: Democracy and Race During the Cold War. New York: New York University Press, 2013.Find this resource:

Davis, Michael G. “Impetus for Immigration Reform: Asian Refugees and the Cold War.” The Journal of American-East Asian Relations 7.3–4 (Fall–Winter 1998): 127–156.Find this resource:

Divine, Robert A. American Immigration Policy, 1924–1952. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1957.Find this resource:

Gotanda, Neil. “Towards Repeal of Asian Exclusion.” In Asian Americans and Congress: A Documentary History, edited by Hyung-Chan Kim. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1996.Find this resource:

Hsu, Madeline. “From Chop Suey to Mandarin Cuisine: Fine Dining and the Refashioning of Chinese Ethnicity During the Cold War Era.” In Chinese Americans and the Politics of Race and Culture, edited by Sucheng Chan and Madeline Y. Hsu, 173–193. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2008.Find this resource:

Klein, Christina. Cold War Orientalism: Asia in the Middlebrow Imagination, 1945–1961. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.Find this resource:

Lee, Erika. At America’s Gates: Chinese Immigration during the Exclusion Era, 1882–1943. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003.Find this resource:

Lee, Robert G. Orientals: Asian Americans in Popular Culture. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1999.Find this resource:

Leong, Karen. “Foreign Policy, National Identity, and Citizenship: The Roosevelt White House and the Expediency of Repeal.” Journal of American Ethnic History 22.4 (Summer 2003): 3–30.Find this resource:

Lowe, Lisa. Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996.Find this resource:

Lye, Colleen. America’s Asia: Racial Form and American literature, 1893–1945. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004.Find this resource:

Marinari, Maddalena. “‘Americans Must Show Justice in Immigration Policies Too’: The Passage of the 1965 Immigration Act.” The Journal of Policy History 26.2 (2014): 219–245.Find this resource:

McClain, Charles. In Search of Equality: The Chinese Struggle against Discrimination in Nineteenth-Century America. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.Find this resource:

McKee, Delber L. “The Chinese Boycott of 1905–1906 Reconsidered: The Role of Chinese Americans.” Pacific Historical Review 55.2 (1986): 165–191.Find this resource:

Ngai, Mae M. Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004.Find this resource:

Oh, Arissa. “From War Waif to Ideal Immigrant: The Cold War Transformation of the Korean Orphan.” Journal of American Ethnic History 31.4 (Summer 2012): 34–55.Find this resource:

Oyen, Meredith. “Allies, Enemies and Aliens: Migration and U.S. Chinese Relations, 1940–1965.” PhD diss., Georgetown University, 2009.Find this resource:

Reimers, David. Still the Golden Door: The Third World Comes to America. New York: Columbia University Press, 1985.Find this resource:

Salyer, Lucy E. Laws Harsh as Tigers: Chinese Immigrants and the Shaping of Modern Immigration Law. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995.Find this resource:

Salyer, Lucy E. “Baptism by Fire: Race, Military Service, and US Citizenship Policy, 1918–1935.” The Journal of American History 91.3 (2004): 847–876.Find this resource:

Tamayo, William R. “Asian Americans and the McCarran-Walter Act.” In Asian Americans and Congress: A Documentary History, edited by Hyung-Chan Kim. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1996.Find this resource:

Tichenor, Daniel. Dividing Lines: The Politics of Immigration Control in America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002.Find this resource:

Torok, John Hayakawa. “‘Interest Convergence’ and the Liberalization of Discriminatory Immigration and Naturalization.” Chinese America: History & Perspectives 9 (January 1995): 1–28.Find this resource:

Varma, Premdatta. Indian Immigrants in USA: Struggle for Equality. New Delhi: Heritage Publishers, 1995.Find this resource:

Wu, Ellen D. The Color of Success: Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013.Find this resource:

Notes:

(1.) Lucy Salyer, Laws Harsh as Tigers: Chinese Immigrants and the Shaping of Modern Immigration Law (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995); Charles McClain, In Search of Equality: The Chinese Struggle against Discrimination in Nineteenth-Century America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994); and Erika Lee, At America’s Gates: Chinese Immigration during the Exclusion Era, 1882–1943 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003).

(2.) Delber L. McKee, “The Chinese Boycott of 1905–1906 Reconsidered: The Role of Chinese Americans,” The Pacific Historical Review 55, no. 2 (1986), 165–191.

(3.) U.S. House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, Samples of Japanese-Controlled Radio Comments on America’s Exclusion Act, 78th Cong., 1st sess., 1943.

(4.) Quoted in Meredith Oyen, “Allies, Enemies and Aliens: Migration and U.S. Chinese Relations, 1940–1965” (PhD diss., Georgetown University, 2009), 89. For more on the role of the White House in the campaign, see Karen Leong, “Foreign Policy, National Identity, and Citizenship: The Roosevelt White House and the Expediency of Repeal,” Journal of American Ethnic History 22, no. 4 (Summer 2003), 3–30.

(5.) The tactics and strategies of the Citizens Committee are the subject of Fred Riggs, Pressures on Congress: A Study of the Repeal of Chinese Exclusion (New York: King’s Crown, 1950), 46, 61.

(6.) Daniel Tichenor, Dividing Lines: The Politics of Immigration Control (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002), 149.

(7.) Political scientist Fred Riggs has done perhaps the most exhaustive study of the Citizens Committee’s work in Pressures on Congress: A Study of the Repeal of Chinese Exclusion (New York: King’s Crown, 1950).

(8.) Riggs, Pressures on Congress, 57.

(9.) World War II was not the first time Asians could become U.S. citizens. The Nye-Lea Act, passed by Congress in 1935, made 500 Asian veterans of World War I eligible for American citizenship as exceptions to racial restrictions limiting naturalization to whites and persons of African descent. For more on the history of this law, see Lucy E. Salyer, “Baptism by Fire: Race, Military Service, and US Citizenship Policy, 1918–1935,” The Journal of American History 91, no. 3 (2004), 847–876.

(10.) Franklin D. Roosevelt, Speech upon Passage of Magnuson Act, December 27, 1943.

(11.) Because of their special status as American nationals, Filipinos thus followed a different path to U.S. citizenship eligibility.

(12.) U.S. House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, To Grant a Quota to Eastern Hemisphere Indians and To Make Them Racially Eligible for Naturalization: Hearings on H. R. 173, 79th Cong., 1st sess., 1945, 82–86.

(13.) The British Ambassador formally notified the U.S. State Department of British government support for the Indian immigration bill in a telegram dated May 3, 1945; Telegram 73, File 256-F.E./45 (1945), Indian National Archives, Delhi, India.

(14.) U.S. House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization, Naturalization of Filipinos, 78th Cong., 2nd sess., November 22, 1944, 16.

(15.) Robert A. Divine, American Immigration Policy, 1924–1952 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1957).

(16.) March 1947 ADC Progress Report, Box 64, Folder 9, Mike Masaoka Papers, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT.

(17.) U.S. House Judiciary Committee, Providing for Equality under Naturalization and Immigration Laws, 80th Cong., 2nd sess., 1948, 35, 74.

(18.) According to Masaoka, the bill reflected the “evolutionary nature” of legislative reform in a democracy. Mike Masaoka, “McCarran Bill Upheld,” New York Times, April 27, 1952, E8.

(19.) For a systematic critique of the 1952 Act, see U.S. President’s Commission on Immigration and Naturalization, Whom Shall We Welcome (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1953).

(20.) Truman, quoted in William R. Tamayo, “Asian Americans and the McCarran-Walter Act,” in Asian Americans and Congress: A Documentary History, ed. Hyung-chan Kim (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1996), 348.

(21.) Truman, quoted in Tamayo, “Asian Americans and the McCarran-Walter Act,” 348–349.

(22.) Mike Masaoka, quoted in Bill Hosokawa, JACL: In Quest of Justice (New York: William Morrow, 1982), 294.

(23.) Hearing this, one member of the President’s Commission on Immigration and Naturalization characterized the JACL position as one of “justifiable selfishness.” U.S. President’s Commission on Immigration and Naturalization, Emigration and Immigration Law [Hearings], Los Angeles, CA, October 1952, 1737.

(24.) Mike Masaoka expressed a similar sentiment regarding his own involvement. Mike Masaoka and Bill Hosokawa, They Call Me Moses Masaoka: An American Saga (New York: William Morrow, 1987), 363–365.

(25.) David Reimers, Still the Golden Door: The Third World Comes to America (New York: Columbia University Press, 1992), 16–20.

(26.) See Madeline Y. Hsu, “The Disappearance of America’s Cold War Chinese Refugees, 1948-1966,” Journal of American Ethnic History 31, no. 4 (Summer 2012), 12–33; Arissa Oh, “From War Waif to Ideal Immigrant: The Cold War Transformation of the Korean Orphan,” Journal of American Ethnic History 31, no. 4 (Summer 2012), 34–55; Caroline Chung Simpson, “Out of an Obscure Place: Japanese War Brides and Cultural Pluralism in the 1950s,” Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 10, no. 3 (1998), 47–81.

(27.) Michael G. Davis, “Impetus for Immigration Reform: Asian Refugees and the Cold War,” The Journal of American-East Asian Relations 7, no. 3–4 (Fall–Winter 1998), 144.

(28.) Act of 1965, Pub. L. 89–236. U.S. President’s Commission on Immigration and Naturalization, Whom Shall We Welcome (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1953).

(29.) The term is taken from Ellen D. Wu, “Introduction,” Journal of American Ethnic History 31, no. 4 (Summer 2012), 8.

(30.) Stalin’s death in 1953 also led to significant shifts within Soviet Communism itself.

(31.) For more on the importance of Hawaiian statehood to conceptions of Asian American citizenship, see Ellen D. Wu, The Color of Success: Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013), chapter 7.

(32.) For example, see Hiram Fong’s testimony at U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and Naturalization, S. 1932 and Other Legislation Relating to Immigration Quota System, Volume 2, 88th Cong., 2nd sess., 1964, 58–89.

(33.) Asian American witnesses at the various hearings represented the Chicago Shimpo (The Chicago Japanese American News), Japanese American Citizens League, Chinese American Citizens Alliance, Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of New York, Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association and Chamber of Commerce of San Francisco, and the American Legion of California, among other entities.

(34.) Mae M. Ngai, “Legacies of Exclusion: Illegal Chinese Immigration During the Cold War Years,” Journal of American Ethnic History 18, no. 1 (Fall 1998), 20–21.

(35.) In assessing the impact of refugee laws pertaining to Chinese immigration on the 1965 Act, historian Madeline Hsu has observed that a significant portion of the opposition to the McCarran-Walter legislation came from groups that targeted the measure’s inability to account for the problem of refugees. Madeline Y. Hsu, “The Disappearance of America’s Cold War Chinese Refugees, 1948–1966,” Journal of American Ethnic History 31, no. 4 (Summer 2012), 17–18.

(36.) According to Cheng, Chinese American Citizens Alliance leaders consciously emulated the JACL’s public relations campaigns to improve and rehabilitate the public image of Chinese Americans in an effort to prevent the possibility of Chinese internment in the Japanese American (World War II) mold. See Cindy Cheng, Citizens of Asian America: Democracy and Race During the Cold War (New York: New York University Press, 2013), chapter 4.

(37.) On the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, see Cheng, Citizens of Asian America, 149–190. For more on the Nisei Progressives, see Ellen D. Wu, The Color of Success: Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014), 72–110.

(38.) Figures taken from Charles B. Keely, “The Immigration Act of 1965,” in Asian Americans and Congress: A Documentary History, ed. Hyung-Chan Kim (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1996), 530–532.

(39.) U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 2000).

(40.) David Reimers, “An Unintended Reform: The 1965 Immigration Act and Third World Immigration to the United States,” Journal of American Ethnic History 3, no. 1 (Fall 1983), 17.

(41.) Gabriel J. Chin, “The Civil Rights Revolution Comes to Immigration Law: A New Look at the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965,” North Carolina Law Review 75, no. 1 (November 1996), 273–345.

(42.) U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau, Annual Estimates of the Resident Population by Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin for the United States, States, and Counties: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 2012).

(43.) U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau, “Asians Fastest-Growing Race or Ethnic Group in 2012,” June 13, 2013.

(44.) U.S. labor historians were the first to trace the origins of Asian, and specifically, Chinese exclusion. Their work included Alexander Saxton, The Indispensable Enemy: Labor and the Anti-Chinese Movement in California (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971). More recently, scholars of immigration law have linked the demands of enforcing Chinese exclusion to the rise of a centralized state bureaucracy over the late 19th and 20th centuries. Erika Lee, At America’s Gates: Chinese Immigration During the Exclusion Era, 1882–1943 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004); Lucy Salyer, Laws Harsh as Tigers: Chinese Immigrants and the Shaping of Modern Immigration Law (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995).

(45.) Michael Hunt, The Making of a Special Relationship (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983). Meredith Oyen provides a more recent diplomatic treatment, “Allies, Enemies and Aliens: Migration and U.S. Chinese Relations, 1940-1965” (PhD diss., Georgetown University, 2009), 100–105.

(46.) Renqiu Yu, “Little Heard Voices: The Chinese Hand Laundry Alliance and the China Daily News’ Appeal for Repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1943,” in Chinese America: History and Perspectives (1990), 21–35.

(47.) Karen Leong, “Foreign Policy, National Identity, and Citizenship: The Roosevelt White House and the Expediency of Repeal,” Journal of American Ethnic History 22, no. 4 (Summer 2003), 3–30.

(48.) Fred Riggs, Pressures on Congress: A Study of the Repeal of Chinese Exclusion (New York: King’s Crown, 1950).

(49.) H. Brett Melendy, Asians in America: Filipinos, Koreans, and East Indians (Boston: Twayne, 1977); Premdatta Varma, Indian Immigrants in USA: Struggle for Equality (New Delhi: Heritage, 1995).

(50.) Bill Hosokawa, Nisei: The Quiet Americans (New York: William Morrow, 1969); Bill Hosokawa, JACL: In Quest of Justice (New York: William Morrow, 1983); Mike Masaoka and Bill Hosokawa, They Call Me Moses Masaoka: An American Saga (New York: William Morrow, 1987).

(51.) Neil Gotanda, “Towards Repeal of Asian Exclusion,” in Asian Americans and Congress: A Documentary History, ed. Hyung-Chan Kim (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1996), 318, 325. Also see Michael Omi and Howard Winant, Racial Formation in the United States (New York: Routledge, 1986), 66–69.

(52.) John Hayakawa Torok, “‘Interest Convergence’ and the Liberalization of Discriminatory Immigration and Naturalization,” Chinese America: History & Perspectives (January 1995), 1; Derrick Bell, “Brown v. Board of Education and the Interest Convergence Dilemma,” 93 Harvard Law Review 518 (1980).

(53.) Lisa Lowe, Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996), 77–78; Robert G. Lee, Orientals: Asian Americans in Popular Culture (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1999); Christina Klein, Cold War Orientalism: Asia in the Middlebrow Imagination, 1945–1961 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 223–264; Colleen Lye, America’s Asia: Racial Form and American literature, 1893–1945 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004); Charlotte Brooks, Alien Neighbors, Foreign Friends: Asian Americans, Housing, and the Transformation of Urban California (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009); Madeline Hsu, “From Chop Suey to Mandarin Cuisine: Fine Dining and the Refashioning of Chinese Ethnicity During the Cold War Era,” in Chinese Americans and the Politics of Race and Culture, eds. Sucheng Chan and Madeline Y. Hsu (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2008), 173–193; and Cindy Cheng, Citizens of Asian America.

(54.) Ellen D. Wu, The Color of Success: Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013).

(55.) Daniel Tichenor, Dividing Lines: The Politics of Immigration Control (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002), 178–179.

(56.) Mae Ngai, Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004), 228–230, 245–246.

(57.) For example, see Cindy Cheng, Citizens of Asian America, chapter 5, and Cecilia Chen, “Closing the Gap in Understanding Immigrant Rights as Civil Rights,” Clearinghouse REVIEW Journal of Poverty Law and Policy 47:1 (September–October 2013), 169–177. For an older example, see Gabriel J. Chin, “The Civil Rights Revolution Comes to Immigration Law: A New Look at the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965,” North Carolina Law Review 75 (1996).