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Month: February 2018

An Indian immigrant’s fight for US citizenship in 1923 holds lessons in Trump’s America

An Indian immigrant’s fight for US citizenship in 1923 holds lessons in Trump’s America

Dear WTSA Family,

I wanted to share an essay I wrote for Scroll about how 95 year old narratives about immigrants continue to threaten us today. The essay starts with the Supreme Court’s decision (delivered 95 years ago this month) that Bhagat Singh Thind (who argued he was a free white person) and other Indian immigrants were racially ineligible for citizenship.

“A nuanced historic understanding of the desperate political circumstances that Thind and other Asian immigrants faced in the 1920s may provide some balance to the legitimate critiques we can make today about his reliance on caste and color arguments, his choice to identify as white rather than black or African, and his decision not to question the racial premise behind naturalization laws. Thind made these choices at a time when there was no immigrant rights movement, no thoughtful analyses around racial dynamics, and no positive representations of immigrants in popular culture or media. However, today, we are in a different place. Yes, inhumane immigration laws and xenophobic narratives persist in this country. And yes, Indian immigrants of all immigration statuses face devastating barriers to work, live, and be united with family members because of the broken immigration system. Despite these conditions, we must come together to unify our stories and experiences and to build solidarity with immigrants of all backgrounds and statuses.”

I was inspired to write it by my dear friend, Bupen Ram, who is and will always be a bright, bright light. The essay includes shout-outs to Thenmozhi SoundararajanBangladeshi American Women’s Development Initiative – BAWDIRavi Ragbir, and others who are ensuring that we don’t pit ourselves against each other in today’s immigration struggle.

To read the full article, please visit:

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