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Unguarded Gates: A History of America's Immigration Crisis Hardcover – December 24, 2003

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Editorial Reviews


Otis Graham brings new eyes and new scholarship to the agonizing question of immigration, a subject that usually engenders too much emotion and too little objective analysis. Unguarded Gates: A History of America's Immigration Crisis is a clear-eyed look at both the pluses and minuses of our new immigration patterns. Readable and compelling. (Richard D. Lamm, Governor of Colorado, 1975–1987, Co-Director of the Institute for Public Policy Studies, University of Denver)

Otis Graham's Unguarded Gates is a vivid reminder that our contemporary debates over immigration have a long history. Graham shows powerfully how immigration has proven a continual challenge to the ability of America to realize its highest ideals and, as such, is must reading for understanding one of the pivotal issue of our times. (John Bodnar, Indiana University)

A much-needed guide to an unknown history: America's constant effort to control immigration in the national interest, culminating in the legislation that ended out-of-control immigration in the 1920s. Graham performs a great service in calmly stripping away the self-serving myths that grew up around this cut-off, caused its abandonment in the 1960s, and still poison debate today, as immigration once again reaches crisis proportions. (Peter Brimelow, editor of and author of Alien Nation)

Otis Graham has been reflecting on the consequences of large-scale immigration in the U.S. for many years. Unguarded Gates distills many of those insights in a coherent and informative fashion. Regardless of one's perspective on the immigration debate, Graham's analysis shows that the making of an informed policy requires that we all become aware of how immigration is changing the country. (George Borjas, Harvard University)

Graham performs a valuable service in refuting modern-day charges that racist motivations and eugenicist theories underlay the Progressives' move to restrict immigration. Unguarded Gates is especially enlightening in its analysis of the vast cultural rift between the elites, who benefit economically from cheap immigrant labor, and average Americans, who bear the costs and consequences of the present mass immigration. (National Review)

Ethnic activists―along, unfortunately, with most liberals and historians of immigration―refuse to grant that efforts to restrict immigration can be inspired by anything but nativism, racism, and fear of 'the Other.' This book shows how ungrounded―and unfair―that assumption is. Graham's evidence and argumentation should go far toward making reasonable discussion of the issue possible. (Philip Gleason, University of Notre Dame)

This is a clear and rational little book―no small accomplishment when the subject is immigration.Unguarded Gates: A History of America's Immigration Crisis is less a policy tome or a polemic than a fine exercise in simply telling it like it was. (Sunday Washington Times)

Unguarded Gates provides an intriguing historical survey of America's immigration crisis. . . . This should be a part of any college-level collection on immigrant social issues. (The Bookwatch)

About the Author

Otis L. Graham, Jr. is professor of history, emeritus, at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author or editor of over 15 books, including Debating American Immigration, 1882–Present (with Roger Daniels) and Environmental Politics and Policy, 1960s to 1990s. He lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers; First Edition Thus edition (December 24, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0742522288
  • ISBN-13: 978-0742522282
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,685,794 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In Unguarded Gates Professor Graham provides a much needed corrective to what passes as the history of immigration restrictions from the 1880s to the present. Any suggestion in the current debate that perhaps the lifeboat of immigration is nearing capacity is sure to be greeted by a reminder that the Statue of Liberty stands as a permanent testament to our historic invitation to the world's "huddled masses yearning to be free."
In truth, in the view of the generation which placed the statue in New York harbor it was seen "as a symbol of America as a model to inspire other lovers of freedom," rather than some sort of illuminated welcome mat. It was not until the 1930s, Professor Graham informs us, that journalists and history text book writers began to link the statue not with liberty but with immigration.
Such distinctions are particularly relevant as the nation again comes to come to grip with the consequences of virtually unchecked immigration amidst emotionally laden charges that any suggestion to moderate the flow is akin to racist exclusion policies of the past. Indeed, the book shows that there was much more than racist exclusion to account for immigration limitations in the past and that the authors of the 1960s immigration reforms got much more than they bargained for on this account.
The book is a must read for anyone interested in where we came from, and, more importantly perhaps, where we are going as a nation of immigrants if the discussion is not properly addressed.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Luther on May 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you don't think 400 million people living in the US by the year 2050 are too many, then I guess you don't have to read this book. But if, like me, you are tired of gridlock, crowded everything, degraded schools, unpaid hospital bills, crime, etc., to say nothing of the loss of civic duty and responsibility, then Graham's book explains how we got here.

The last part of the book is expecially good at explaining how elites and vested interests keep the discussion of immigration control out of the public forum. Every poll says Americans want less immigration, but it never happens. Why?

Graham explains why.

Surprisingly, he also explains why 9/11 hasn't made that much difference in the immigration flow.. What is it going to take for the public's voice to be heard?

He discusses the entire issue very convincingly. This is a great book. If you read only one book on immigration, this should be it.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a very interesting book, particularly on the early restrictionists. It gave me a new perspective on why Americans restricted immigration in the early 20th century, and gave me historical insight into today's immigration policy crisis.
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Unguarded Gates: A History of America's Immigration Crisis
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