Synopses & Reviews
With the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, Chinese laborers became the first group in American history to be excluded from the United States on the basis of their race and class. This landmark law changed the course of U.S. immigration history, but we know little about its consequences for the Chinese in America or for the United States as a nation of immigrants.
At America's Gates is the first book devoted entirely to both Chinese immigrants and the American immigration officials who sought to keep them out. Erika Lee explores how Chinese exclusion laws not only transformed Chinese American lives, immigration patterns, identities, and families but also recast the United States into a "gatekeeping nation." Immigrant identification, border enforcement, surveillance, and deportation policies were extended far beyond any controls that had existed in the United States before.
Drawing on a rich trove of historical sources--including recently released immigration records, oral histories, interviews, and letters--Lee brings alive the forgotten journeys, secrets, hardships, and triumphs of Chinese immigrants. Her timely book exposes the legacy of Chinese exclusion in current American immigration control and race relations.
"Makes a very significant contribution to both Asian American history and to U.S. immigration history. The amount of research that went into this book is prodigious."
Sucheng Chan, University of California, Santa Barbara
"Lee has authored a masterful book, well written and based on extensive research in both English and Chinese sources."
-- American Historical Review
Lee explores Chinese immigration during the exclusion era, a period from 1882 to 1943 when the U.S. ended its historic welcome to immigrants.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 295-310) and index.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- PART I: CLOSING THE GATES: The Chinese are coming: how can we stop them? : Chinese exclusion and the origins of American gatekeeping -- The keepers of the gate: U.S. immigration officials and Chinese exclusion -- PART II: AT AMERICA'S GATES: Exclusion Acts: Race, class, gender, and citizenship in the enforcement of the exclusion laws -- One hundred kinds of oppressive laws: the Chinese response to American exclusion -- PART III: CRACKS IN THE GATE: Enforcing the borders: Chinese exclusion along the U.S.-Canadian and U.S.-Mexican borders -- The crooked path: Chinese illegal immigration and its consequences -- PART IV: THE CONSEQUENCES AND LEGACIES OF EXCLUSION: In the shadow of exclusion: The impact of exclusion on the Chinese in America -- EPILOGUE: Echoes of exclusion in the late Twentieth Century --