JAEH Archive / Vol. 39, No. 2, Winter 2020

Journal of American Ethnic History

Vol. 39, No. 2, Winter 2020

Table of Contents


“With the Utmost Practical Speed”: Eisenhower, Hungarian Parolees, and the “Hidden Hand” Behind US Immigration and Refugee Policy, 1956–1957

By: Anita Casavantes Bradford


From December 1956 to May 1957, President Dwight D. Eisenhower made unprecedented use of the parole statute of the 1952 McCarran-Walter Act in order to rapidly admit 38,000 Hungarian refugees to the United States. Characterizing this decision as a reactive effort to repair strained relationships with Western European allies following the Soviet invasion of Budapest, previous scholarship has correctly recognized that Eisenhower’s actions “stretched American immigration law beyond belief”; at the same time, by assuming that sympathetic American legislators were eager to work with the president to find ways around legal obstacles to the admission of anti- Communist Hungarians, scholars to date have sidestepped the question of exactly how he managed to bypass congressional authority without provoking a constitutional crisis. Drawing upon sources including the president’s personal papers, NSC memoranda, and State Department memos in order to more fully excavate the fraught process by which the president compelled Congress to cede control of immigration and refugee policy to the executive, this article argues that Eisenhower saw his use of the parole statute not only in reactive geo- political terms, but also as a proactive means of creating momentum for the reform of the nation’s restrictive immigration policies. Asserting that the president sought deliberately to bypass legislators whose public expressions of sympathy obscured their lack of an affirmative commitment to the admission of Hungarian “freedom fighters,” it further demonstrates that Eisenhower preemptively deployed a high- powered team of public relations professionals as part of a media-driven “end run” around restrictionist legislators whom he expected to oppose his use of the parole statute. Finally, highlighting the centrality of representations of Hungarian whiteness and Christianity to the executive- driven PR campaign that accompanied Eisenhower’s refugee resettlement program, the article concludes that mid- century American notions of race and religion played a crucial role in generating public sympathy for displaced Hungarians and, by extension, in ensuring congressional acquiescence to Eisenhower’s bold interventions into the jealously guarded sphere of refugee policy-making.

View on JStor

Irish American Organizations and the Northern Ireland Conflict in the 1980s: Heightened Political Agency and Ethnic Vitality

By: Ted Smyth


Drawing on two confidential reports, this article demonstrates the significant political agency exercised in the 1980s by Irish and Irish American politicians supported by an unusually robust form of ethnicity. Embodied in hundreds of cultural and fraternal associations, this vigorous Irish American ethnicity was animated by political passion arising out of the conflict in Northern Ireland. The first report, by the Irish Embassy in Washington in 1980, provided first-hand accounts of the widespread activities of Irish American associations, with a view to enlisting their support in resolving the conflict in Northern Ireland. The embassy and Irish American political leaders formed a powerful “Irish lobby” in Washington seeking a solution based on nonviolence and equality between Catholic nationalists and Protestant unionists, strengthening the hand of the Irish government in its negotiations with the British government. The second report, compiled in 1988 by Sinn Féin, the political wing of the IRA, sought to bring the Irish American republican movement into line with Sinn Féin’s recent decision to seek a political solution to the conflict. As Sinn Féin moved gradually away from violence, it exerted control over Noraid, the most important of the hardline Irish American organizations. Both the Irish government and Sinn Féin mobilized an Irish American ethnicity that, far from being merely “symbolic,” was rooted in tangible social and political processes in which Irish immigrants and their descendants played the leading role. Whether that ethnicity can retain its vitality in the absence of continued immigration and an animating political cause is an open question.

View on JStor

Immigration, Crime, and the Economic Origins of Political Nativism in the Antebellum West

By: Luke Ritter


Scholars have described political nativism during the antebellum era of US history as the product of cultural paranoia, social anxiety, and political expediency. Much less examined are the ways in which economic motives contributed to political nativism. During the late 1840s and early 1850s, Americans in urban areas resented higher expenditures on poorhouses, prisons, mental asylums, police, and other institutions that expanded to serve immigrants. The outbreak of political nativism in the border city of St. Louis provides a representative example of the relationship between immigrants’ conditions, the bloody election-day riots of the mid-1850s, and the dramatic rise of the National American Party. Cultural issues and the potential increase in immigrant voting power intensified economic-related resentment among the native-born population and resulted in the large-scale outbreak of political nativism in 1854.

View on JStor


Patrolling the Border: Theft and Violence on the Creek-Georgia Frontier, 1770–1796 by Joshua S. Haynes

By: Bryan C. Rindfleisch

Mediating America: Black and Irish Press and the Struggle for Citizenship, 1870–1914 by Brian Shott

By: Cian T. McMahon

Managed Migrations: Growers, Farmworkers, and Border Enforcement in the Twentieth Century by Cristina Salinas

By: Andrew J. Hazelton

Brown Beauty: Color, Sex, and Race from the Harlem Renaissance to World War II by Laila Haidarali

By: Jasmine L. Harris

Borderline Citizens: The United States, Puerto Rico, and the Politics of Colonial Migration by Robert C. McGreevey

By: Ismael García Colón

Almost Citizens: Puerto Rico, the U.S. Constitution, and Empire by Sam Erman

By: Charles R. Venator-Santiago

Pictures of Longing: Photography and the Norwegian-American Migration by Sigrid Lien, Barbara Sjoholm

By: Daron W. Olson

Basque Immigrants and Nevada's Sheep Industry: Geopolitics and the Making of an Agricultural Workforce, 1880–1954 by Iker Saitua

By: Richard W. Etulain

Fight the Power: African Americans and the Long History of Police Brutality in New York City by Clarence Taylor

By: Peter C. Pihos

Borders of Belonging: Struggle and Solidarity in Mixed-Status Immigrant Families by Heide Castañeda

By: Jane Lilly López

Let Us Make Men: The Twentieth-Century Black Press and a Manly Vision for Racial Advancement by D'Weston Haywood

By: Brian Shott

The Hollywood Jim Crow: The Racial Politics of the Movie Industry by Maryann Erigha

By: Matthew W. Hughey

Political Economy of Labor Repression in the United States by Andrew Kolin

By: Robert Justin Goldstein

Returns of War: South Vietnam and the Price of Refugee Memory by Long T. Bui

By: Van Nguyen-Marshall