Unlike the 1930s, when the United States tragically failed to open its doors to Europeans fleeing Nazism, the country admitted over three million refugees during the Cold War. This dramatic reversal gave rise to intense political and cultural battles, pitting refugee advocates against determined opponents who at times successfully slowed admissions. The first comprehensive historical exploration of American refugee affairs from the midcentury to the present, Americans at the Gate explores the reasons behind the remarkable changes to American refugee policy, laws, and programs. Carl Bon Tempo looks at the Hungarian, Cuban, and Indochinese refugee crises, and he examines major pieces of legislation, including the Refugee Relief Act and the 1980 Refugee Act. He argues that the American commitment to refugees in the post-1945 era occurred not just because of foreign policy imperatives during the Cold War, but also because of particular domestic developments within the United States such as the Red Scare, the Civil Rights Movement, the rise of the Right, and partisan electoral politics.
Using a wide variety of sources and documents, Americans at the Gate considers policy and law developments in connection with the organization and administration of refugee programs.
Carl J. Bon Tempo is assistant professor of history at the State University of New York at Albany.
List of Illustrations ix Acknowledgments xi INTRODUCTION: Americans at the Gate 1 CHAPTER 1: "The Age of the Uprooted Man": The United States and Refugees, 1900-1952 11 CHAPTER 2: "A Mystic Maze of Enforcement": The Refugee Relief Program 34 CHAPTER 3: "From Hungary, New Americans": The United States and Hungarian Refugees 60 CHAPTER 4: "Half a Loaf": The Failure of Refugee Policy and Law Reform, 1957-1965 86 CHAPTER 5: "They Are Proud People": The United States and Refugees from Cuba, 1959-1966 106 CHAPTER 6: "The Soul of Our Sense of Nationhood": Human Rights and Refugees in the 1970s 133 CHAPTER 7: Reform and Retrenchment: The Refugee Act of 1980 and the Reagan Administration's Refugee Policies 167 EPILOGUE: The United States and Refugees after the Cold War 197 Notes 207 Index 257