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Not Fit for Our Society: Immigration and Nativism in America
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Not Fit for Our Society: Immigration and Nativism in America

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  55 ratings  ·  9 reviews
In a book of deep and telling ironies, Peter Schrag provides essential background for understanding the fractious debate over immigration. Covering the earliest days of the Republic to current events, Schrag sets the modern immigration controversy within the context of three centuries of debate over the same questions about who exactly is fit for citizenship. He finds that ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 1st 2010 by University of California Press (first published April 15th 2010)
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Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: americana
Schrag covers a touchy subject. He does an excellent job of describing how the arguments against immigration "reform" have hardly changed over the past 200 years. He includes an interesting discussion on America's eugenics programs of the 1920s and 1930s. Readers can be entertained in how eugencists and their supporters classified certain ethnic groups based on heavily biased tests; and how they needed to create the term "moron" as a classification between imbecile and feeble-minded person. Ente ...more
Jason Poulter
Sep 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Peter Schrag masterfully presents the issues of nativism and immigration in the United States. He thoroughly researches the subject matter and presents it in a provocative and entertaining way. The author is not afraid to criticize both sides of the aisle. Anyone with questions on the immigration debate should read this book.
"The arguments of the past decade against immigration, legal, and illegal, virtually replay what was heard for more than a century; they're the same arguments that each gen
Tiffany Conner
Apr 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short book, but one which is very, very densely packed with detail and evidence to support the author's contention that current debates surrounding immigration policy are not new, but are indeed sad, retread echoes of voices from days of mythological yore. (We're not an old country, so even our "old" debates aren't so old.) The only thing which has changed is the players. Sort of. Yesterday's Mexicans (because let's be honest, when people rant about the problems posed by illegal immigration an ...more
This book basically does two things: 1) it gives a descriptive overview of the various eras of anti-immigrant restrictionism throughout U.S. history, and 2) shows how the concerns, rhetoric, and themes of the restrictionists in each of these eras have remained largely constant, even as the target has changed (anti-French, anti-Chinese, anti-Irish, anti-Catholic, anti-Latino, etc.). The first few chapters and the last few chapters were the most interesting, while those in the middle tended to dra ...more
Mark Hunt
Jun 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
The reviews for this book should give you an excellent idea regarding whether or not this is for you. I find the whole argument about immigration to have a lot more heat than light, and I realized that I know little of the "facts." Schrag used to the political opinion editor here at the Sacramento Bee (I live in Sac) and I generally find his progressive perspectives not to my taste. That said, I read this book along with several others to learn about how American's immigration policy works, how ...more
Nov 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a history of immigration-related policies, prejudices and practices that we as a country have tried since the beginning of our statehood. It's a sad list of offensive policies. But, the author makes a good point that many of the concerns expressed today are repeats of old doomsday worries that never came to fruition. However, I do think that some important points were not addressed, but I don't have the space here to detail them.
Mar 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
A really important read that compares anti-immigrant rhetoric today to that of 100 years ago, and shows that the "problems" we think we face now are not so different from then (so, presumably, the people who are complaining now about immigrants probably had grandparents who were complained about). It gets a little dicey at the end when he sort of incompletely compares the plight of Latino/a migrants to that of European migrants, but it's still, on the whole, an important book.
Mark Paul
Jul 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A must-read book for anyone interested in the immigration debate in America. You can read my review in the California Journal of Politics and Policy. ...more
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