The Island of Duty

Louis Anthes

affiliation not provided to SSRN

New York University Review of Law & Social Change, Vol. 24, pp. 563-600, 1998

Before the 1890s, the states and the federal government shared the responsibility for regulating immigration to the United States. With the opening of Ellis Island in 1892, the federal government assumed the exclusive power to control immigration by applying two contradictory laws which excluded immigrants either who seemed incapable of working or who seemed as if they had already secured work before migrating. In practice, immigration inspectors interpreted these laws by deploying an elaborate inspection apparatus that rewarded immigrants who seemed defenseless and duty-minded and thwarted immigrants who asserted themselves or who hired assertive lawyers to assist them.

When Theodore Roosevelt assumed the presidency in 1901, he aimed to reform Ellis Island and appointed officials who emphasized that the process of racial assimilation could be begun there. The practice of immigration inspection on Ellis Island was well-suited to the Rooseveltian project of producing an ideal American citizenry, in part because legal practice identified the figure of the assertive immigrant as well as the immigrants attorney as a disruptive presence in the machinery of assimilation. Relying on cultural practice theory, the article thus critically examines the history of American citizenship by situating immigrants in an emerging ideological opposition between adversarial legal representation and administrative authority at the turn of the twentieth century.

JEL Classification: K4, N3

Not Available For Download

Date posted: August 7, 2000  

Suggested Citation

Anthes, Louis, The Island of Duty. New York University Review of Law & Social Change, Vol. 24, pp. 563-600, 1998. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=234842

Contact Information

Louis Anthes (Contact Author)
affiliation not provided to SSRN
Feedback to SSRN

Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 650

© 2016 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollobot1 in 1.203 seconds