Immigration Debates in America

Immigration Debates in America

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  • Author(s):
  • Published: May 15, 2020
  • Publisher: The Calvin Press
  • Page count: 100
  • ISBN: 978-1-937555-47-4
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-937555-48-1

Immigration Debates in America

American immigration policies have changed significantly over the past 200 years, but debates over more restrictive versus more open policies have recurring themes. Should the U.S. restrict immigration to prevent its ethnic, racial, and religious character from changing? Should any immigrant who accepts American political values be welcome? Immigration Debates in America begins in the 1830s and 1840s, with campaigns against Irish-Catholic immigration. Then it turns to anti-Chinese legislation (1870s–1920s), immigration policies about Europeans (1880s–1920s), the rejection of Jewish refugees from Hitler’s Germany (1930s), the Mexican American border region, and Muslim immigration today.

The history examined in this book is not just about conflict, but also adaptation. Native-born Americans and new groups of immigrants repeatedly have grown accustomed to each other. The vision of who can be American has widened and become more diverse over time. By putting debates about immigration in historical context, this book can help us understand the practical and ethical considerations that shape immigration policies today


Immigration in the United States is a sensitive subject that often lacks historical context, especially in classroom settings. William Katerberg's book, Immigration Debates in America, admirably corrects this deficiency, giving readers a fair and nuanced history ripe for discussion and contemporary connections. Katerberg's volume is eminently readable and, importantly for secondary school settings, is both admirably concise and remarkably comprehensive in its scope. Christian schools will also benefit from Katerberg’s inclusion of scripture and theology, which weave in additional opportunities for discussion and reflection.

 --Caleb Lagerway, Social Studies Teacher and Online Ed Coordinator, Holland Christian High School, MI


In this concise book, Will Katerberg ably demonstrates that the history of immigration in America is riddled with conflict and complexity. Understanding the contours of this history is a critical first step for Christians struggling to discern what it might mean to extend hospitality to the stranger in our own time, and how we as citizens might love our neighbors as ourselves.

 --Kristin Du Mez, History Department, Calvin University, Grand Rapids, MI


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