Lee shows that an irrational fear, hatred, and hostility toward immigrants has been a defining feature of the nation from the colonial era to the Trump era. This text explains how xenophobia works, why it has endured, and how it threatens America.
Lee reveals that the rhetoric Trump and his supporters employ when speaking about immigration and immigrants—fears about bringing crime, taking away jobs, failing to assimilate—has long been part of American political discourse from Colonial times to the present ... This thoroughly researched, informative, and lucid work is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States, and how it influences the current political environment.
Thoroughgoing ... Lee charts various movements in the nation’s history, from Benjamin Franklin’s lament even before the Revolution that German immigrants would not be able to assimilate to anti-Irish measures in the years around the Civil War, and then the fervor those very Irish exercised in opposing immigration by Italians, Asians, and Jews. Throughout, the author notes that xenophobia is good business for its purveyors—politicians, TV commentators, radio hosts, and the like—and it is likely to remain a point for those people to flog in the coming election, as the president proclaims, 'Our country is full' ... A carefully constructed history of wide interest to students of American politics.
... fascinating but disturbing ... While readers might be tempted to see these events as dark but foregone moments in the nation’s history, Lee’s later sections make it clear that similar anxieties continue to legitimize fear and hatred of Mexicans and Muslims, and even of 'model minority' groups of Asian Americans. She persuasively expresses that current hostilities over national borders are no exception to the nation’s history. This clearly organized and lucidly written book should be read by a wide audience.