Synopses & Reviews
In 1921 and 1924, the United States passed laws to sharply reduce the influx of immigrants into the country. By allocating only small quotas to the nations of southern and eastern Europe, and banning almost all immigration from Asia, the new laws were supposed to stem the tide of foreigners considered especially inferior and dangerous. However, immigrants continued to come, sailing into the port of New York with fake passports, or from Cuba to Florida, hidden in the holds of boats loaded with contraband liquor. Jews, one of the main targets of the quota laws, figured prominently in the new international underworld of illegal immigration. However, they ultimately managed to escape permanent association with the identity of the illegal alien” in a way that other groups, such as Mexicans, thus far, have not.
In After They Closed the Gates, Libby Garland tells the untold stories of the Jewish migrants and smugglers involved in that underworld, showing how such stories contributed to growing national anxieties about illegal immigration. Garland also helps us understand how Jews were linked to, and then unlinked from, the specter of illegal immigration. By tracing this complex history, Garland offers compelling insights into the contingent nature of citizenship, belonging, and Americanness.
and#8220;A nuanced exploration of multiracial race relations and the complexities attending Asian Americansand#8217; shifting social status in Californiaand#8217;s cities, this book is an important contribution to urban and Asian American history. Charlotte Brooksand#8217;s discussions about and#160;the exclusion of Asian Americans from New Deal programs and the undoing of racial covenants in the cold war era are original, well researched, and subtly argued. She compellingly illuminates the limits of postwar racial liberalism.and#8221;
"Garland has performed a remarkable service in this book, which should be read by historians well beyond the small number who study the history of the Jews in the US. . . . After They Closed the Gates offers much."
“The illegal arrival of Jewish immigrants in the United States after 1924 was a phenomenon that had been erased from both Jewish and American collective memory until Libby Garlands astounding book brought it back to light. Impeccably researched and beautifully written, After They Closed the Gates offers an engaging view into a world of fake identities and clandestine border crossings, as well as into the complex legal process through which American Jews responded to the regime of immigration restriction. Garland not only challenges the traditional narrative of Jewish arrival in America, but also causes us to look at the entire history of illegal immigration in a new and critical way.”
“In charting the rise and fall of Jewish ‘illegal aliens in US history, Libby Garland also explores in absorbing detail the real-life effects of immigration law on the many migrants it targets. After They Closed the Gates is a marvelous, important, and timely book.”
“Garlands groundbreaking research upends much of what we think we know about immigration and the American-Jewish experience. After They Closed the Gates brings together a wealth of archival material from an extraordinary range of sources, creating a narrative that offers fresh and profound insight into both the history of both illegal immigration and Jewish responses to immigration restriction. A must-read for anyone who wishes to deepen their understanding of American-Jewish history, and a timely contribution to contemporary debates over ‘border security.”
“Meticulously researched and provocatively argued, Garland reveals the previously unexplored arena of Jewish illegal immigration to the U.S. after the Quota Acts of the 1920s. She introduces us to the complicated world of Jewish migrant ‘lawbreakers traveling under false documents, in circuitous routes, or through surreptitious entry, Jewish and Gentile smugglers trying to make money out of misfortune, and Jewish lawyers and aid organizations walking a fine line between supporting coethnics in need and drawing anti-immigrant ire that questioned their essential Americanness. A masterful, path-breaking work of fine scholarship.”
"Between the two world wars, tens of thousands of Jews entered the United States illegally. After They Closed the Gates
brings to light the history of illegal Jewish immigration, a phenomenon hidden from view for decades. With analytical rigor Libby Garland's breakthrough study presents a fascinating counterhistory of the immigrant saga."
“Garland examines here for the first time Jewish illegal immigration to the US following the supposed closing of America's gates in 1924. Tens of thousands of Jews entered the US illegally, she argues, and her most significant chapters uncover the hidden processes through which Jews were smuggled. . . . Recommended.”
“Garland offers vivid and intriguing portraits. . . . Thoroughly researched and cogently argued, this compelling book revises the conventional narratives of American and Jewish American immigration history.”
“After They Closed the Gates is most interesting and most persuasive. . .”
“Few Americans today remember the times when Jews constituted part of the undocumented issue. This book therefore makes a major contribution in educating contemporary Americans of various ethnic backgrounds, whose ancestors often faced a label as unassimilable and undesirable, that those now on U.S. borders striving to enter any way possible can also become accepted as beneficial citizens in this country. Garland has opened new and important historical territory for others to explore further..”
“Garland shows how illegal Jewish immigrants, experienced in ‘finding ways around restrictive and arbitrary-seeming laws,’ often confounded rigid racial and national categories. . . . This is a fine, densely researched book that is a must-read for anyone examining Jewish understandings of race and citizenship in the postwar United States.”
“In this well-documented and clearly written book, Garland tells the largely ignored story of Jewish illegal immigration to the United States during the era of immigration quotas from the 1920s to the 1960s. . . . A timely book, and the reader cannot help to draw comparisons between policies, politics, and experiences of the past and those of the present.”
“Breaking new ground, Garland argues that a historical view of immigration curtailment in the 1920s as a watershed moment has diverted attention from its continuation by other means. . . . [She] usefully expand[s] the discussion of the chronically freighted issue of race in the United States. . . [and] enhances understanding of how American Jews of diverse backgrounds and locales responded to pivotal events in twentieth-century American and European history.”
Between the early 1900s and the late 1950s, the attitudes of white Californians toward their Asian American neighbors evolved from outright hostility to relative acceptance. Charlotte Brooks examines this transformation through the lens of Californiaandrsquo;s urban housing markets, arguing that the perceived foreignness of Asian Americans, which initially stranded them in segregated areas, eventually facilitated their integration into neighborhoods that rejected other minorities.
Against the backdrop of cold war efforts to win Asian hearts and minds, whites who saw little difference between Asians and Asian Americans increasingly advocated the latter groupandrsquo;s access to middle-class life and the residential areas that went with it. But as they transformed Asian Americans into a andldquo;model minority,andrdquo; whites purposefully ignored the long backstory of Chinese and Japanese Americansandrsquo; early and largely failed attempts to participate in public and private housing programs. As Brooks tells this multifaceted story, she draws on a broad range of sources in multiple languages, giving voice to an array of community leaders, journalists, activists, and homeownersandmdash;and insightfully conveying the complexity of racialized housing in a multiracial society.
At various times in American history, Irish, Italians, Chinese, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, and more have been seenand then, gradually, not seenas emblems of the unwanted. After They Closed the Gates extends this story to Eastern European Jews after restrictive immigration laws went into effect in the early 1920s. While the quota laws mostly worked as intended, Garland makes it clear that we must pay more attention to how people continued to get through, around, or under the border and to what makes” illegal aliens. She reveals the chaotic, transnational underground of illegal immigration: migrants who sailed into the port of New York with fake German passports; others who came into Florida from Cuba, hidden with Greeks and Chinese in the holds of boats loaded with contraband liquor; and still others who came into Vermont from Canada by car. She explores the responses that government officials, journalists, Jewish organizations, alien smugglers, and migrants themselves had to this new, unsanctioned flow of people over American borders. And she ultimately shows the ways that Jews, by defying simple racial classification, posed challenges for the quota laws and actively worked to dissociate themselves from the specter of the illegal alien.”
About the Author
Charlotte Brooks is associate professor of history at Baruch College, City University of New York. She is the author of Alien Neighbors, Foreign Friends: Asian Americans, Housing, and the Transformation of Urban California also published by the University of Chicago Press.
Table of Contents
List of Abbreviations
Part I. Alien Neighbors
Chinatown, San Francisco: Americaand#8217;s First Segregated Neighborhood
Los Angeles: Americaand#8217;s and#8220;White Spotand#8221;
The New Dealand#8217;s Third Track: Asian American Citizenship and Public Housing in Depression-Era Los Angeles
and#8220;Housing Seems to Be the Problemand#8221;: Asian Americans and New Deal Housing Programs in San Francisco
The Subdivision and the War: From Jefferson Park to Internment
Part II. Foreign Friends
and#8220;Glorified and Mounted on a Pedestaland#8221;: San Francisco Chinatown at War
Equally Unequal: Asian Americans and the Fight for Housing Rights in Postwar California
and#8220;The Orientals Whose Friendship Is So Importantand#8221;: Asian Americans and the Values of Property in Cold War California