Reproduction, Eugenics and Immigration Law

Posted: 21 Feb 2013

Date Written: June 30, 2012


Policies designed to exclude the children of unwanted immigrants from citizenship have insidious roots in the eugenics movement. Today’s anti-immigrant agenda is no different than the one that animated the eugenicists into enacting the restrictive 1924 legislation. Nor is there a difference in the latent racism inherent in such views. While immigration restrictionists may not subscribe to eugenics theory, they fear immigrants and their descendants on the same basis as eugenicists in the past, namely that the children of immigrants deemed undesirable are inherently less American, unassimilable and could lead to the demise of the white majority.

The goals of the eugenics movement of yesteryears are carried out by behaviors that are much more retrograde than sterilization. These behaviors include maintaining restrictive immigration laws, keeping national origin quotas, targeting undocumented immigrants through law enforcement efforts, and viewing immigrants as a public health problem that needs to be purged. The aim of all three of these innovations is to deny any governmental subsidy for reproduction or maintenance of the foreign-born workforce and their dependents, even if their reproduction and maintenance now is occurring in the United States. The point is to discourage these processes, and re-separate productive and reproductive activities, such that America remains majority white.

Keywords: eugenics, immigration law, immigration, reproduction, undocumented immigrants, racism

Suggested Citation

Lal, Prerna P, Reproduction, Eugenics and Immigration Law (June 30, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Prerna P Lal (Contact Author)

Lal Legal, APLC ( email )

2001 Addison Street
Suite 300
Berkeley, CA 94704


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