Putting the immigration “crisis” in historical perspective : Code Switch : NPR

President Biden just issued an executive order that allows him to temporarily shut down the U.S.-Mexico border to asylum seekers once a daily threshold of crossings is exceeded. The order comes months after the failure of yet another border security deal, the most recent attempt to overhaul an immigration system that hasn’t seen comprehensive reform since 1990.

All the while, we hear the same thing from politicians, Democrats and Republicans alike, “We gotta do something about immigration! We gotta do something about immigration!” But we’ve been trying to “do something” about immigration for over a hundred years, often times leading to distressing experiences for the people who interact with our immigration system.

So, this week we’re looking back at that history, starting with a notorious law that would forever entangle immigration and racism — the Immigration Act of 1924. The law was born out of a panic about an influx of what were considered non-white immigrants at the time. The quotas it established were endorsed by the KKK and later praised by Hitler.

On the hundredth anniversary of the law, we talk to immigration correspondent Jasmine Garsd, about the law’s legacy, and how the rhetoric that birthed it continues to echo today in places like Texas and Florida.

And Jonathan Blitzer, author of the recent Everyone Who Is Gone Is Here, explains how the political panic surrounding what many are calling an immigration crisis, isn’t new. And in fact, it’s a problem of our own creation.

This episode was hosted by B.A. Parker, produced by Xavier Lopez, and edited by Courtney Stein. Our engineer was James Willetts.

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