tv Borderline Citizens CSPAN2 May 22, 2017 7:21am-7:31am EDT
presence there. so it was just really interesting. >> host: linda lumsden teaches journalism here at the university of arizona and is the author of this book, "inez." >> guest: thank you. >> every weekend booktv brings you 48 hours of nonfiction be hours and -- nonfiction be authors and books on c-span2. keep watching for more it's for serious readers. >> we're outside the trenton city museum this trenton, new jersey, where c-span is learning more about the city's literary scene. up next, we speak with robert greg grieve i have on his book, "borderline citizens." >> older immigration history, tended to focus on nation-centered accounts, so we tended to frame immigration history in terms of the uprooted, the transplanted.
and these ideas assumed that migrants crossed a clear boundary, crossing from their home country to the united states. and what i show this my book is that this border was very much constructed between the u.s. and puerto rico and that puerto rican migration is fundamentally shaped by u.s. colonial policy on the island. in the war of 1898, the u.s. invades puerto rico and the philippines. and after the war we will take these territories from spain as part of the treaty of paris. and so puerto rico and the philippines become the first kohl thinks of the united states -- colonies of the united states in the is sense that they are defined as unincorporated. and so this means that they're different from, say, arizona,
texas, california, other territories that we had acquired that were expected to be future states and its people were expected to be future citizens. in the case of puerto rico, we know from the supreme court ruling in downs-bidwell that puerto rico would not be understood that way legally and instead was defined as an unincorporated territory. so this is one legal way this which the united states is able the to define the island as both part of the united states and also outside the united states because the supreme court would rule that the constitution did not extend the island people because they're defined as unincorporated. so it's almost as if the u.s. is holding the island at arm's length, but yet we're not
allowing the people on the island their own sovereignty. racial ideas are also an important part of understanding this moment in our history because both imperialists who supported the u.s. occupation and those who opposed it defined their and justified their positions often in racial terms. so, for example, those that supported the u.s. occupation in puerto rico often claimed that puerto ricans were inferior this intelligence to the chinese and the chinese at this moment were, of course, being exclude with the the exclusion acts from the 1880s. so one reason people were using that kind of argument in congress was because they wanted to be able to placate mainland
citizens' fears that if we are to invade a foreign territory, this could open the gates to a stream of migrants to the u.s. mainland. and some congressional leaders appealed to this kind of racial logic saying these people are are so inferior to americans that they could never survive in our society even if they came. others argued that the u.s. congress was so powerful that it would be able to use legislation to limit migration streams from the islands. so the first challenge we see in the early 1900s when a woman named isabelle gonzalez comes from the island to new york. and as a pregnant widow, she's immediately labeled likely to become a public charge and detained on ellis island.
and eventually a group old lawyers -- a group of lawyer ares pick up the case and bring it all the way to the supreme court. and the supreme court rules in the gonzalez case that puerto ricans should be considered u.s. nationals rather than aliens when entering the united states. and, therefore, they legally are free of restrictions that would otherwise apply, say to those coming from russia. so a u.s. national was defined as free to enter the united states, free of immigration restriction, and u.s. nationals were granted the protection be of the u.s. military. but there are very few other rights that were extended to nationals. so, for example, u.s. nationals that came in the u.s. could be denied employment by the federal
government because in a series of cases it was made clear that nationals were not eligible for employment with the u.s. government. so the gonzalez case is really a turning point here because by say 1904 the united states is now legally bound to admit puerto ricans entering through new york. and this would, by extension, apply also to filipinos. so the original promise that some in congress had made, you know, that we would be able to control the effects of our colonial policy overseas and limit migration proved to be untrue in this case. and once puerto ricans are arriving as nationals, they are still though subject to xenophobia of all kinds. and we see this especially as we
move into the world war i period. as we move into world war i, the u.s. will define puerto ricans actually as u.s. citizens under the johns act, and this will start -- in the jones act, and this is the result of puerto ricans themselves agitating and mobilizing for u.s. citizenship on the island and in the united states. we see a wave of sugar strikes in puerto rico in 1914, '15, '16 where laborers are calling for u.s. citizenship because they understood that citizenship would protect their right to unionize. and under spain that was a right that was denied them. so they were looking to solidify their rights under the u.s. constitution, and in 1917 president wilson decides that the jones act should be the law
of the land, that we should declare puerto rican citizens partly because he viewed it as an embarrassment on the global stage to be fighting a war to make the world safe for democracy when the u.s. was denying basic citizenship rights to puerto ricans. the patterns that i try to trace in my book are very much the origins of 20th century and early 21st century immigration patterns where we see refugees and high grants -- migrants enter the united states there zones of u.s. influence. and as americans, we tend to understand immigration in a way that doesn't let us see that, i would say. often americans are inclined to view these migrants as
foreigners who do not have a rightful place in our country. and i think there's a real kind of separation of, say, foreign policy on the one hand and immigration policy on the other. and even today in the case of syria we can see how the trump administration has bombed syria without, without changing our immigration policy to accept her refugees. and so i think that speaks to the fact that immigration and foreign policies are often made this very separate realms. when we look at the history, we see how intimately connected they are. and this is something that i think will make for a richer study of immigration. >> i'm standing on the grounds of new jersey's state capital, trenton. up next, we speak with larry