Cloth $45.00 ISBN: 9780226122458 Published March 2014
E-book $7.00 to $36.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226122595 Published March 2014

After They Closed the Gates

Jewish Illegal Immigration to the United States, 1921-1965

Libby Garland

Libby Garland

312 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2014
Cloth $45.00 ISBN: 9780226122458 Published March 2014
E-book $7.00 to $36.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226122595 Published March 2014
In 1921 and 1924, the United States passed laws to sharply reduce the influx of immigrants into the country. By allocating only small quotas to the nations of southern and eastern Europe, and banning almost all immigration from Asia, the new laws were supposed to stem the tide of foreigners considered especially inferior and dangerous. However, immigrants continued to come, sailing into the port of New York with fake passports, or from Cuba to Florida, hidden in the holds of boats loaded with contraband liquor. Jews, one of the main targets of the quota laws, figured prominently in the new international underworld of illegal immigration. However, they ultimately managed to escape permanent association with the identity of the “illegal alien” in a way that other groups, such as Mexicans, thus far, have not.

In After They Closed the Gates, Libby Garland tells the untold stories of the Jewish migrants and smugglers involved in that underworld, showing how such stories contributed to growing national anxieties about illegal immigration. Garland also helps us understand how Jews were linked to, and then unlinked from, the specter of illegal immigration. By tracing this complex history, Garland offers compelling insights into the contingent nature of citizenship, belonging, and Americanness.

Jewish Book Council: National Jewish Book Award

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Times Higher Education
"[Garland] has performed a remarkable service in this book, which should be read by historians well beyond the small number who study the history of the Jews in the US. . . . After They Closed the Gates offers much."
Eric L. Goldstein | Emory University
“The illegal arrival of Jewish immigrants in the United States after 1924 was a phenomenon that had been erased from both Jewish and American collective memory until Libby Garland’s astounding book brought it back to light.  Impeccably researched and beautifully written, After They Closed the Gates offers an engaging view into a world of fake identities and clandestine border crossings, as well as into the complex legal process through which American Jews responded to the regime of immigration restriction. Garland not only challenges the traditional narrative of Jewish arrival in America, but also causes us to look at the entire history of illegal immigration in a new and critical way.”
Thomas A. Guglielmo | George Washington University
“In charting the rise and fall of Jewish ‘illegal aliens’ in US history, Libby Garland also explores in absorbing detail the real-life effects of immigration law on the many migrants it targets. After They Closed the Gates is a marvelous, important, and timely book.”
Marni Davis | Georgia State University
“Garland’s groundbreaking research upends much of what we think we know about immigration and the American-Jewish experience. After They Closed the Gates brings together a wealth of archival material from an extraordinary range of sources, creating a narrative that offers fresh and profound insight into both the history of both illegal immigration and Jewish responses to immigration restriction. A must-read for anyone who wishes to deepen their understanding of American-Jewish history, and a timely contribution to contemporary debates over ‘border security.’”
George Sánchez | University of Southern California
“Meticulously researched and provocatively argued, Garland reveals the previously unexplored arena of Jewish illegal immigration to the U.S. after the Quota Acts of the 1920s.  She introduces us to the complicated world of Jewish migrant ‘lawbreakers’ traveling under false documents, in circuitous routes, or through surreptitious entry, Jewish and Gentile smugglers trying to make money out of misfortune, and Jewish lawyers and aid organizations walking a fine line between supporting coethnics in need and drawing anti-immigrant ire that questioned their essential Americanness.  A masterful, path-breaking work of fine scholarship.”
Tony Michels | University of Wisconsin
"Between the two world wars, tens of thousands of Jews entered the United States illegally.  After They Closed the Gates brings to light the history of illegal Jewish immigration, a phenomenon hidden from view for decades.  With analytical rigor Libby Garland's breakthrough study presents a fascinating counterhistory of the immigrant saga."
“Garland examines here for the first time Jewish illegal immigration to the US following the supposed closing of America's gates in 1924.  Tens of thousands of Jews entered the US illegally, she argues, and her most significant chapters uncover the hidden processes through which Jews were smuggled. . . . Recommended.”
1. Building the Apparatus of Immigration Control
2. American Law, Jewish Solidarity
3. Smuggling in Jews
4. Illicit Journeys
5. Battling Alien Registration
6. Abolishing the Quotas
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