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Age in AmericaThe Colonial Era to the Present$
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Corinne T. Field and Nicholas L. Syrett

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781479870011

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479870011.001.0001

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date: 23 August 2017

“A Day too Late”

“A Day too Late”

Age, Immigration Quotas, and Racial Exclusion

Chapter:
(p.166) 8 “A Day too Late”
Source:
Age in America
Author(s):

Yuki Oda

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9781479870011.003.0009

In this chapter, Yuki Oda examines the way that age determined whether or not immigrants could be admitted to the United States under immigration quotas and racial exclusion laws. After 1921, age worked in different ways depending on race. For European immigrants, the crucial ages were either eighteen or twenty-one, depending on the definition of what constituted a minor child (it changed over time). Families that wanted their children to follow them to the United States needed them to do so before they became legal adults. But in order to make these claims, immigrants had to naturalize before they sent for their relatives. This increasingly meant that while parents waited to naturalize, some children grew too old to immigrate. In contrast to European immigrants, American citizen children of Asian descent who were born abroad risked losing their citizenship altogether if they did not begin to live in the United States before reaching a certain age. In both cases, age intersected with race and ethnicity to define who could and could not enter the United States legally and who had the right to claim U.S. citizenship.

Keywords:   immigrants, immigration, quotas, racial exclusion, European, race, ethnicity, children, Asian, citizenship

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