Expelling the Poor
Atlantic Seaboard States and the Nineteenth-Century Origins of American Immigration Policy
Oxford University Press 2017
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in British StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in LawNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Public PolicyNew Books Network January 23, 2019 Diana DePasquale
Hidetaka Hirota is an Assistant Professor in the Institute for Advanced Study at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan. Prior to his current position, he was a Mellon Research Fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at Columbia University and taught at the City University of New York-City College. Dr. Hirota’s book, Expelling the Poor: Atlantic Seaboard States and the Nineteenth-Century Origins of American Immigration Policy (Oxford University Press, 2018) has received awards from the Immigration and Ethnic History Society, the New England American Studies Association, and the American Conference for Irish Studies, and Dr. Hirota’s book also received a special commendation for the Massachusetts Historical Society book prize.
Dr. Hirota’s book focuses on state legislation policies of immigration control in New York and Massachusetts. Dr. Hirota asserts those laws come to act as a framework for subsequent federal policy. While most American Studies scholars have mostly aligned with the dominant theory that our nation had open borders prior to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, Hirota’s research reveals that prior to the 1880s laws of exclusion and deportation were used to to rid communities of the poor and infirm.
“Hidetaka Hirota’s Expelling the Poor is an exceptional, deeply researched, and timely study that transforms our understanding of U.S. immigration history and of Irish American studies. Shockingly, Hirota demonstrates that in the mid-nineteenth century Massachusetts and New York officials, inspired by nativism, anti-Catholicism, and what would now be called neoliberalism, excluded and/or deported roughly 100,000 would-be immigrants to the United States: mostly Irish paupers, many of them helpless widows and orphans, often expelled in the cruelest and most autocratic manner. As Hirota also shows, these vicious state policies were later adopted on the federal level, and, indeed, they are implemented today against the immigrants and refugees that US economic and foreign policies have uprooted from their homes.”–Kerby A. Miller, author of Emigrants and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America.