The summary of my research question is that is it an examination of how immigration policies have created a commonality out of racism against those who are “unalterably foreign.” I argue that this occurs by establishing an American ideal of what is expected and accepted in everyday communities within the US. Whether this means for one to endure the deeply-rooted hierarchy of sought after skin tones, the prioritization of preferred locations of origin, or, regardless of citizenship, the experience of unfair economic injustices against one another.
By analyzing several additional sources I intend to use this information to, not strictly support my prior argument, but rather to open a discussion with the points of view of these authors in regards to my topic. This will hopefully allow a degree of agreement or disagreement, broadening the expansiveness of my essay and the perspectives it can reach.
Nelson Torres-Ríos an assistant professor at Hostos Community College NY, writes “Limitations of the Jones Act: Racialized Citizenship and Territorial Status.” Torres offers this piece to outline several policy restrictions of the Jones Act set against Puerto Rico and its citizens. His major focus is on how the current relationship between the island and the United States is lackluster if anything, and it holds an inconsequential disregard for the basic constitutions owed to Puerto Rico’s residents. Torres takes this opportunity to portray how the people of Puerto Rico are seemingly regarded as second-class citizens by the US, of which he draws the comparison to the 1896 case of Plessy v. Ferguson, with the turnout bringing legitimization to Jim Crow laws. Torres uses the infamous declaration of people’s equality equating to “separate, but equal” and argues this same rationale of Plessy as the government’s official position of the unequal treatment of Puerto Rican residents. To structure this case, Torres brings to mention how Puerto Rican residents are granted US citizenship to all those born in Puerto Rico, resulting in an addition of 3.4 million US citizens from the island. However, even though these residents are subject to federal laws just like any other, they are not permitted to submit any vote in presidential elections, removing this specific grouping of citizens from, thought to be a constitutional right.
Torres also brings to mention the Rico v. Franklin California Tax-Free Trust, forbidding Puerto Rico from ever filing for bankruptcy, as well as from creating its bankruptcy code. This had opened an opportunity for the Island to fall into the well-known amounts of debt it currently resides in today, as the island also faces severely underfunded federal programs. Puerto Rico is not protected by Chapter 9 of the US Federal Bankruptcy Code and therefore is unable to file for bankruptcy. This code excludes states from a declaration of bankruptcy, however, Puerto Rico a US territory rather than state, and Congress is well within their constitutional rights to be able to “make all needful Rules and Regulations” formed in a way that respects the territories, however, have not in this case.
By outlining factors within the Jones Act that seemingly act to demerit Puerto Rican residents, also American citizens, from many of their inalienable rights, Torres’s work lies on the conclusions of this: With the Supreme Court in support of congressional policies of which deem Puerto Rican residents a population of “second class” citizens, the American government is still today treating its territorial lands as racially inferior. By allowing the peoples of this land the same residency of citizenship, up to the extent of even being counted as a member of the American census population, but to deny them the rights of voting for their countries presidency, among other liberties, this is no other than citizenship with the sole purpose of concealing modern colonial oppression.
In an attempt to elaborate upon, as well as try to explain the reasoning behind the social self-segregation we often see of white Europeans away from other migratory groupings, I’ve taken an analysis of, Professor of philosophy Leonard Harris’s “Alaine Locke and Community.” Harris’s piece is in itself an examination of the work of Alaine Locke, another American philosopher whose focus in this work, is on social communities and why they form. Both professors come to the term of Gemeinschaft to better explain this. Gemeinschaft, in essence, is the human instinct for the community, specifically a sense that draws individuals together in a desire to belong alongside groups of common interests, descents, and responsibilities. Alaine Locke finds that humans, in particular, have a subconscious instinct that draws one another to bond with people of similar interests, and he goes to define these communities as having, over time, moved from purely social groups of similarity to groups of social construction, and then compares this to the concept of race. Race was never a significant variable of social standing until it was made so. Locke takes the claim that races originated as a way to express cultural traits and values of small communities such as tribes, and what we see today of social races are “groups falsely identified as a biological kind coterminous with a social kind.” Or, Socially constructed racial categories.
As a secondary examiner of this work, Leonard Harris acknowledges Locke’s philosophy of the races and adds that if we are to agree with the claim that these communities were made of social constructions allowing a hierarchical establishment of power to occur, then we can also assume that the original notion of community was purposefully disturbed on this same basis of gain. Following this logic, we, in theory, should then be able to re-disturb how communities have been made once again. This is asking for the continual reevaluation of how we as a society “set up” our social standings. Which have, up until this point, lead to the ranking of the worthiness of each race. Harris sees the moral worth of communities as not determined by whether they represent the traits or virtues considered inherently good or bad by another, but to be able to represent these traits without guilt or oppression. In this Alaine Locke concludes by offering the term “culture-citizenship,” where racial groups are negated in the phenotypic sense, but cultural/social groups persist. This is presented as their shared new culture in an anti-oppressive commonality. In theory, this would be accomplished by the breaking down of racial barriers allowing individuals to then not be seen as belonging to a specific race, but rather individual social groupings which can be made up of any sort of phenotypic race, all sharing the same conceptualizations.
The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965, passed by the 89th US Congress and signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson was a federal law that brought abolition to the federal quota system of the prior immigration act of 1924.
By the old standard, those unwanted in the US were given a restrictive cap on the number of people allowed to immigrate across the border beginning in 1924. The 1964 act, however, more than doubled the annual permissions to a new non-restrictive quota. Services were also implemented to more easily allow entry of skilled immigrants trained in high demand jobs and set no restrictive limit on immigrating individuals who were family members of already legally residing immigrants. This changed the way future immigrants were viewed in the sense they began to be seen for their skills and professions, rather than countries of origin, much the same as how many were previously only viewed as a potential lost job for an American.
Each of these works has shed light alongside my original statement of prejudice being derived from over exemplified American ideals deciding the right way for a community to be formed. Secondary to my contextual essay, these sources highlight discrimination against foreign populations, reasoning that may explain the drastic hues of human disregard against one another, and while far from finished, steps that have been taken towards a possible reunification of nations together, to see people as more than their origin.
Torres-Ríos, Nelson. “Limitations of the Jones Act: Racialized Citizenship and Territorial Status.” Rutgers Race and the Law Review 19, no. 1 (2018): 1-21.
Harris, Leonard. “Alain Locke and Community.” The Journal of Ethics 1, no. 3 (1997): 239–47.
Emanuel Celler, “To amend the Act of October 3, 1965.” House of Representatives, Bill 90 H.R. 11993