Unwelcome Strangers (Magill's Literary Annual 1991-2005)
The post-1965 surge in immigration to the United States, which first became the focus of extensive study in the 1980’s, has produced an extraordinary and ever-growing body of scholarship, ranging from highly specialized works to broad overviews. In 1998, a number of significant books were added to this shelf, including Roberto Suro’s Strangers Among Us: How Latino Immigration Is Transforming America, Peter H. Schuck’s Citizens, Strangers, and In-Betweens: Essays on Immigration and Citizenship, and Jagdish Bhagwati’s A Stream of Windows: Unsettling Reflections on Trade, Immigration, and Democracy.
Another such book is David Reimers’s Unwelcome Strangers: American Identity and the Turn Against Immigration. Reimers is a distinguished historian whose earlier works include Still the Golden Door: The Third World Comes to America (2d ed., 1992), the best account of its subject, and (with Frederick M. Binder) All the Nations Under Heaven: An Ethnic and Racial History of New York City (1995).
The title and subtitle of Reimers’s new book suggest that it may fall into a now well-established genre, which might be described as immigration advocates crying “Wolf!” Considering that immigration to the United States in 1997 totaled at least 1.2 million, including both legal immigrants and illegals, talk of “the turn against immigration” seems absurd on the face of it. Such hyperbole,...
(The entire section is 1740 words.)
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