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Illegal Migrations and the Huckleberry Finn Problem

Illegal Migrations and the Huckleberry Finn Problem

John S. W. Park
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 284
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  • Book Info
    Illegal Migrations and the Huckleberry Finn Problem
    Book Description:

    Throughout American history, citizens have encountered people who are "illegal"-- that is, people who have no legal right to be in the United States or to freedom of movement because of their immigration status or race. Like Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, these citizens face the conflict between sympathy for the unlawful other and the force of the law.

    InIllegal Migrations and the Huckleberry Finn Problem, John Park explores problems of status and illegality in American law and society by examining on-going themes in American legal history, comparative ethnic studies, and American literature. He observes that in reconsidering racially discriminatory laws, Americans have celebrated persons who were "out of status," as well as the citizens who had helped them avoid American law. Similarly, in confronting illegal immigrants in our own time, many Americans have chosen to ignore or to violate federal laws in favor of assisting such persons. In light of these experiences, Park insists that the U.S. ought to rethink policies that have criminalized millions of immigrants, as the injustice of such rules has encouraged people to disobey the law, thereby undermining broader commitments to principles of equality and to the rule of law itself.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-1048-1
    Subjects: Law, Sociology
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-x)
    • 1 The Huckleberry Finn Problem (pp. 3-15)

      I enjoy lecturing off campus, if only because it gives me the opportunity to speak to people quite different from the college-age students I teach every term. When I’m talking to a group of older folks at seven or eight in the evening, they really want to be there, and I know it’s less about me than the topic I’m presenting. That topic almost always relates to immigration, race relations, or both, and in southern California, this tends to draw a crowd. During one event, a screaming woman shook her fist at me; during that same evening, another hoped that...

    • 2 Race, Law, and Personhood in Huckleberry Finn (pp. 16-30)

      It’s an amazing novel.Huckleberry Finnworks on so many complex levels, and Shelley Fisher Fishkin is right to claim that the work represents for Mark Twain a quantum leap in his art. as other scholars have pointed out, Huck represents a variant of the national ethos, as the restless young man who wishes to be free from the civilizing influences of everyone around him, especially his well-meaning guardians. If Tom Sawyer, Twain’s other most famous protagonist, represents the american tendency to be enamored of Old World conventions and romance, Huckleberry Finn is his opposite—untutored, uncivilized, and an outcast...

    • 3 Slavery and Wage Slavery (pp. 33-51)

      The wordcompanyis made by combining the latin prefixco-with the latin rootpan. Co-means “together” or “with,”panmeans “bread.” Acompanyrefers, in its most fundamental sense, to a group of people who make or share nourishment together, and this central idea carries through in nearly all definitions of the word: inviting company over to one’s house involves good food and drink; a company of soldiers is a common unit to provision in the field, consisting of a certain number of men who will eat, sleep, fight, and die together; and to this day, men and women...

    • 4 Illegal Workers (pp. 52-76)

      Even as Congress approved Tydings-Mcduffie in 1934, and thus excluded Filipino laborers to the United States, the most intense political debate that year surrounded the two bills sponsored by robert Wagner, the democratic Senator from new york. The first bill, the Social Security act, sought to protect americans from the vagaries of modern life, including unemployment leading to poverty, poverty in old age, and poverty resulting from the injury or loss of a breadwinner in the family. The second bill, the national labor relations act, hoped to empower working class americans by protecting them from “unfair labor practices.” This new...

    • 5 Immigrant Activism in the Shadow of Law (pp. 77-110)

      Cases such asApollo Tire and Sure-Tanstimulated a great deal of scholarly and policy discussions about the need for “immigration reform,” for a comprehensive set of rules that might settle once and for all the problem of illegal immigration, employers’ hiring practices and conduct, as well as the future of undocumented aliens already in the United States.¹ Leading economists, policy analysts, and other scholars published studies to examine whether undocumented workers were harmful or helpful to the economy as a whole and to measure the extent of their involvement in the american labor market. This debate took place during...

    • 6 The Bread of Knowledge (pp. 113-135)

      The education of some americans was once illegal, and so it, too, had to occur outside of the law. Work and labor were structured along racial lines for most of american history, and education also was available in that way for some and not others. a few found ways around this, though. In his autobiography published in 1845, Frederick douglass explained how he had learned to read: “The plan which I adopted, and the one by which I was most successful, was that of making friends of all the little white boys whom I met in the street.” He noticed...

    • 7 Race, Immigration, and the Promise of Equality (pp. 136-156)

      In 1954, when the United States Supreme Court issued its decision inBrown v. Board of Education, the Chief Justice, Earl Warren, appeared to be a man with some regrets. Warren had had a distinguished career: before being appointed to the highest court by President dwight eisenhower, Warren had been elected the Attorney General in California in 1938, then Governor in 1942, and it was between those years that the nation had been attacked and plunged into war. Warren defeated Culbert Olson, the incumbent democrat, partly by accusing his opponent of having been soft on the question of Japanese civilians...

    • 8 Undocumented and Unafraid (pp. 157-178)

      As school and university administrators struggled to fashion coherent policies in the wake of divergent federal and state court decisions, activists who’d considered illegal immigration a growing threat were proposing their own solutions. Some wanted to revisit and to overturnPlyler, including Governor Pete Wilson of California, as he saw a prime political target in this one issue. as a Senator from California, Wilson had once initiated several legislative efforts to provide agricultural growers in his state with “temporary workers,” and he had also supported ronald reagan’s immigration reforms in the Immigration reform and Control act of 1986, including the...

    • 9 Utopian Visions and the Unlawful Other (pp. 181-200)

      Mark Twain’sHuckleberry Finnwas set in the world before the Civil War, and although we know in the end that Huckleberry himself intended to head west, Jim’s fate as an emancipated slave was less certain. neither Huck (nor Twain) discussed Jim’s future in the conclusion, as Huck (and Twain) complained of “what a trouble it was to make a book.” But Jim’s story was at least as compelling as Huck’s, and that leads us back to that question: Where could he have gone? Would Jim have gone back to St. Petersburg, Missouri, to purchase his family, or would he...

  7. Acknowledgments (pp. 201-204)
  8. Notes (pp. 205-250)
  9. Selected Books Cited (pp. 251-262)
  10. Index (pp. 263-266)
  11. Back Matter (pp. 267-267)