Asian American Speaker Series: Madeline Hsu

How Bad Immigrants Became Model Minorities: Policy and Racial Typing in the Making of US Citizens


Immigration regulation ignites some of the most heated debates, not just in the United States but in most democracies with advanced economies.  Immigration regulation may be understood as the most direct means by which the US government can seek to shape the demographics of its population, both to exclude persons deemed harmful to national interests and to welcome those seen as most likely to contribute and to strengthen, in part by restricting entry but also by governing access to citizenship and retaining authority to detain and deport unauthorized immigrants.  Understandably, the relevant federal institutions that wield such great powers are subject to heated disagreement regarding the parameters of who can legally gain admission into the US—both physically but also on trajectories to claim the full rights and protections of citizenship.  This lecture will discuss how changing values and policies targeting Chinese immigration across the 20th century reveal the power of immigration policies to criminalize and to integrate and elevate targeted immigrant populations.