Unlike the 1930s, when the United States tragically failed to open its doors to Europeans fleeing Nazism, the country admitted over three million refugees during the Cold War. This dramatic reversal gave rise to intense political and cultural battles, pitting refugee advocates against determined opponents who at times successfully slowed admissions. The first comprehensive historical exploration of American refugee affairs from the midcentury to the present, Americans at the Gate explores the reasons behind the remarkable changes to American refugee policy, laws, and programs.
Carl Bon Tempo looks at the Hungarian, Cuban, and Indochinese refugee crises, and he examines major pieces of legislation, including the Refugee Relief Act and the 1980 Refugee Act. He argues that the American commitment to refugees in the post-1945 era occurred not just because of foreign policy imperatives during the Cold War, but also because of particular domestic developments within the United States such as the Red Scare, the Civil Rights Movement, the rise of the Right, and partisan electoral politics. Using a wide variety of sources and documents, Americans at the Gate considers policy and law developments in connection with the organization and administration of refugee programs.
Some images inside the book are unavailable due to digital copyright restrictions.
"Bon Tempo's deft and compelling narrative works at the intersection of the domestic and the global to marvelously recast our understanding of post-1945 American attitudes and policies toward refugees. Looking beyond a more traditional Cold War frame, he convincingly explores how the overlapping and intertwined histories of anticommunism, race, electoral politics, the human rights movement, and the growing power of the American state shaped the always contingent U.S. commitment to refugees. This book is a model of the richness the international angle infuses into the study of American history."—Mark Bradley, University of Chicago