Thy Kingdom Come: The Intersection of King Cotton and Immigration Policy Open Access

Turner, Sylvia Darlene (2010)

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Thy Kingdom Come: The Intersection of King Cotton
and Immigration Policy
Sylvia D. Turner

In terms of legal immigration, President Obama has advocated that the United States increase the number of documented immigrants in order to meet the demand for labor and to keep families together. Although addressing illegal immigration in its party platform, his Democratic Party has remained relatively silent on the issue of legal immigration. Political pundits have argued that while the issue of illegal immigration is problematic and contentious, the implications of legal immigration have made policy debates even more divisive. Some scholars have long maintained that immigration policies have reflected the country's labor needs. For example, Southern Democrats considered immigration measures as a way to secure enough workers for the South's agriculturally-based economy. Steinberg suggests that immigration policy becomes less restrictive when demand for low-wage labor is high; and more restrictive when demand is low (Steinberg 2001). Given the South's need for cheap labor and its tenuous race relations, what role did the region play in the passage of immigration policy? After all, many of the immigrant groups that arrived served as sources of cheap labor, on which the southern cotton economy was desperately reliant. This research project examines immigration legislation passed between 1865 and 1952: The Chinese Exclusion Act, The Geary Act, The 1917 Immigration Act, The 1924 Immigration Act and The McCarran-Walter Act. This period represents the end of the Civil War through the demise of hand-picked cotton in the South. Using qualitative methods, my research will address two inter-related questions. First, how did the regional politics of cotton within the South influence federal immigration policy between 1865 and 1952? Second, what is the relationship between cotton production and immigration trends?

Thy Kingdom Come: The Intersection of King Cotton and
Immigration Policy
Sylvia D. Turner
B.A., Agnes Scott College
M.A., Emory University
Advisor: Delores P. Aldridge, Ph.D.
A dissertation submitted to the Faculty of the
James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies of Emory University
in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
In Sociology

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction: Thy Kingdom Come . 1

Chapter One: Thy Kingdom Come: Framing The Politics of Cotton . 10

Chapter Two: Methodology . 32

Chapter Three: The Chinese Exclusion Act and The Geary Act 1878-1892 . 43

Chapter Four: The Immigration Act of 1917 1912-1917 . 55

Chapter Five: The Immigration Act of 1924 1919-1924 . 78

Chapter Six: The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 194 7-1952 . 97

Chapter Seven: Conclusion . 113

Bibliography . 127

Table of Contents

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