Discrimination Based on National Origin and Citizenship
With the exception of indigenous peoples such as the American Indians, the United States is a nation comprised of immigrants, including Africans who were forcibly migrated. The nation’s first immigration law, enacted in 1790, extended citizenship to “free white aliens” (see Chapter 1 for a discussion of the racial prerequisite cases). As a matter of fact, citizenship in the United States has always been influenced by race and social identity. Historically, noncitizen racial minorities have been subjected to horrific violence, race hatred, detention, deportation and internment in camps. The root causes of this discrimination, as shown in the cases discussed in this chapter, are based on racism, xenophobia and economic antagonisms. In particular, national and state governments have enacted laws and policies that discriminated against Asian Americans in extreme ways—including denial of the right to own property, exclusion and internment. Discrimination based on race, national origin and citizenship provides another lens through which we can understand racial formation and racial hierarchy in the United States.