From immigrants to activists: immigration, nativism, welfare reform, and the mobilization of immigrant voters in the late Nineteenth and late Twentieth centuries

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Alyce P. Miller (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Thomas Jackson

Abstract: Within the political culture of the eighteenth through twentieth centuries, symbols abounded that negatively equated immigrants with criminals and welfare cheats. Particularly in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries there were clear similarities between the ways that individuals and groups on all sides of the immigration and welfare debate in America used such imagery as an effective tool for their cause, either to elicit sympathy for immigrants or fear and animus toward them. This dissertation is interdisciplinary in nature. Through analysis of congressional records and other government documents, public opinion surveys, and newspaper and magazine articles in particular, this dissertation investigates the dominant narratives about both the poor and immigrants influencing United States' immigration and social welfare policy, culminating in the mid-1990s and resulting in Hispanic political mobilization that had a significant effect on anti-immigrant policy in the late twentieth century. I examine the importance of the conjuncture between immigration, social welfare policy, and rhetoric in the mid-1990s in order to show how the trope of the immigrant pauper, like the trope of the "welfare queen" in the 1980s and 1990s, informed major policymaking in last two decades of the twentieth century.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2012
18th century, 19th century, Immigrants, United States, Immigration policy, Social welfare policy
Emigration and immigration $z United States
Immigrants $x Political activity $z United States
Political participation $z United States
Public welfare $z United States

Email this document to