A glossary of terms relevant to the study of U.S. immigration.
Early nineteenth movement seeking to end slavery in the United States.
State laws limiting land ownership by noncitizens, particularly Asian immigrants.
Noncitizens within a country.
Tendency of immigrants to subordinate their native cultural heritage to the core Anglo-Protestant culture of the United States.
Classroom instruction in two different languages, either as a means of assisting students not yet conversant in the primary language of instruction or as a method of cultivating bilingualism in all students.
Principal federal law-enforcement agency responsible for policing U.S. borders.
Membership in a political community, usually conferring rights such as suffrage and obligations such as taxes. Citizenship is usually determined by place of birth but can be acquired through naturalization.
Concept holding that members of individual ethnic groups should be able to live on their own terms within the larger society while retaining their unique cultural heritages.
Alien subject to deportation for any number of violations of United States immigration law.
Protecting the substance of liberty and property.
Leaving one country in order to immigrate to another.
Persons residing outside their native countries.
Civil fines or criminal penalties against employers who hire undocumented workers.
Language-instruction programs for immigrants whose native languages are not English.
Theory and practice of attempting to improve the overall genetic quality of a human population through selective breeding.
Official denial of entry into the United States, after due process as defined by current immigration law.
Within modern political debate over immigration in the United States, a person who wants to maintain or increase the numbers of visas granted to permanent residents.
Informal 1907 agreement between Japan and the United States regarding Japanese immigration to the United States.
Blight that wiped out most of Ireland’s potato crop from 1845 to 1852.
Common name for a permanent resident card, an identification card issued to permanent residents by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and formerly by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Foreigner who works in another country–usually legally–as a temporary resident.
Systematic attempt by Germany’s Nazi regime to exterminate European Jews from the late 1930’s to the end of World War II in 1945.
Country in which a person stays without being a national of that country.
Late stage of assimilation in which members of a minority group, such as newly arrived immigrants, develop a sense of peoplehood based exclusively on their host society.
Colloquial term for aliens who circumvent or break national immigration laws to enter, reside in, or work in another country.
Any person who has moved from an original homeland to another state or country.
Term used within sociology to describe distinctions among minority groups within a larger society and those peoples who immigrate to these societies voluntarily from other nations.
Official federal government terms for deportation.
Incoming movement of peoples and individuals across international boundaries, usually with intention of establishing permanent residence.
Attorneys who specialize in representing immigrants.
Status of an alien who does not meet the criteria for entry into the United States. Formerly classified as “excludable.”
Immigrants who bind themselves as servants for specified periods of time after their arrival–either to pay for their transportation or to work off penalties for legal infractions.
Process whereby immigrants find places for themselves within the cultural, social, and economic fabrics of their new homeland.
First-generation Japanese immigrant.
One of the standards that immigrants seeking permanent resident status in the United States must meet, by proving that they have sufficient means of financial support so they are not likely to require extensive government assistance in the future.
Tests of reading and writing fluency administered to immigrants seeking to attain U.S. citizenship.
Required expressions of allegiance to a country or government that are often employed to test the loyalty of immigrants.
Women who advertise themselves as available for marriage to eligible men in other countries, often for the purpose of immigration. See also marriages of convenience; picture brides.
Marriages entered into, not for love, but for the financial, social, or legal benefits for one or both parties. In the context of immigration, such marriages–between nationals and aliens–are entered into to improve the legal immigration status of the latter, a practice that is illegal in many countries.
Term–now often considered outdated and oversimplified–for the process whereby diverse immigrant groups are transformed culturally, socially, and politically into Americans.
Immigrant or minority population whose members perform specialized “middleman” roles in an economy, often serving as economic intermediaries between dominant and subordinate populations.
Process through which immigrants use force to overwhelm and subdue the original inhabitants of the territories they settle.
Movement of individuals and peoples from one location to another, though not necessarily across international boundaries.
In certain nativist ideologies, the alleged process whereby unchecked immigration leads to the debasement of a native population’s culture and racial “purity.”
Ideology or policy that stresses the acceptance and full incorporation in society of a multiplicity of cultures.
Formal relationship between a person and a state, the latter of which exercises jurisdiction over the former. Nationality does not necessarily imply citizenship, which generally confers the right to participate in political processes.
Political ideology that holds that immigration–or immigration from certain countries–is economically, politically, socially, and/or culturally detrimental to a native-born population.
Process of conferring citizenship upon an alien.
Any court authorized to confer American citizenship on an alien.
Terrorist attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001.
Second-generation Japanese immigrant.
Alien who seeks temporary entry into the United States for a particular purpose, such as tourism or participation in a guest-worker program.
Chinese immigrants who took advantage of the destruction of government birth records during the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 to claim they were American citizens because they had been born in the United States.
Generic term for any person paroled from jail or detention. In the context of immigration law, an alien who would normally be inadmissible to the country who is permitted to enter the United States for humanitarian reasons or for reason of the public good.
Document issued by a national government for the purpose of facilitating international travel by its nationals that attests to the identity and nationality of the holder.
German-speaking immigrants who first settled in Pennsylvania. “Dutch” is an English corruption of the German word for German, Deutsche.
Term used by some social scientists for poor, less economically diversified countries, heavily influenced by the policies and economic needs of core nations.
Alien permitted to reside and work indefinitely in the United States.
See green card.
Japanese and Korean women who married fellow countrymen who preceded them to the United States during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The men typically selected their brides from sets of photographs. See also mail-order brides.
Any location in the United States designated as an official point of entry and processing for aliens and U.S. citizens.
Factors outside a person’s own homeland that tend to encourage emigration–for example, economic opportunities or the presence of a sympathetic religious community at the target destination.
Factors within a person’s own homeland that tend to encourage migration–for example, limited economic opportunities or religious persecution.
Limits placed on the number of United States visas issued to aliens of certain nationalities.
Brief period after World War I when public hysteria fueled by Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution led to government harassment of radicals, trade unionists, and political dissidents–particularly those of foreign birth.
Indentured servants during the colonial era who sold themselves into servitude upon reaching their destinations in order to pay for their transatlantic passages. Redemptioners’ indentures were sometimes purchased by relatives or friends already in the colonies.
Reluctance of countries to host ever-growing numbers of refugees and asylees.
Money sent by immigrants to friends and relatives in their home countries.
Expulsion of aliens from the United States after they are adjudged inadmissible or deportable. Those removed cannot apply for readmission for five years. Formerly–and still informally–called deportation.
Permanent relocation of refugees within a host country.
Term informally applied to immigrants who reside in the United States for long periods without obtaining citizenship.
Within the context of modern political debate over immigration in the United States, a person who wants to reduce the numbers of visas granted to permanent residents.
Immigrants who return to their countries of origin permanently or for indefinite periods.
Underground humanitarian movement of the 1980’s–mostly centered in churches–in which Central American refugees were sheltered from the INS.
Period of adjustment to the climate and sicknesses of a new country–often used in reference to immigrants in colonial America.
Process whereby immigrants absorb select elements of their new country’s culture while retaining certain elements of their original culture.
Process whereby a native population permits immigrants to occupy certain socioeconomic positions while purposefully excluding them from others.
Neighborhood centers that provided community services to residents of economically depressed areas of cities during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Practice of assigning to all members of a group–particularly an ethnic or racial group–the same characteristics on the assumption that all members of the group share these traits.
Term originally applied to crowded urban workplaces in which piecework farmed out by manufacturers was done by low-wage employees; in modern usage, the term has come to be applied to almost any crowded workplace with unsafe and unsanitary working conditions.
Acts of violence designed to terrorize or coerce members of a community or nation.
Inveigling or forcing of persons into traveling to other countries where they are exploited as prostitutes or made to endure other forms of slavery.
Alternative official term for an undocumented alien.
Immigrant residing in the United States without proper legal documentation. Preferred alternative to “illegal alien,” a term that some people believe conveys negative connotations.
Voluntary departure of a removable alien from the United States without an order of removal. Such a person may reapply for admission into the country at any time.
Fear of foreigners.
Racist metaphor for the alleged threat that East Asian–and especially Chinese–immigrants posed to white, Western civilization during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Also applied to Japan and the Japanese during the World War II era.