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The Cultural Politics of U.S. ImmigrationGender, Race, and Media$
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Leah Perry

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781479828777

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479828777.001.0001

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The Borderlines of Family Reunification

The Borderlines of Family Reunification

(p.67) 2 The Borderlines of Family Reunification
The Cultural Politics of U.S. Immigration

Leah Perry

NYU Press

This chapter explores the importance of family in 1980s immigration discourse. While family reunification has been the primary focus of immigration policy since 1965, in the context of the “immigration emergency,” some lawmakers viewed Asian and Latin American immigrant families as threats to American “family values” and the economy. This chapter traces backlash against multiculturalism and second-wave feminism as it arose in “family values” rhetoric. It also comparatively traces the “nation of immigrants” narrative in television shows that represented white ethnic immigrant families as industrious additions to the nation who overcame poverty with nothing but hard work. While these non-nuclear families sometimes seemed to be queer, the chapter argues that racially differentiated discourses about immigrant families reflected and created a flexible neoliberal narrative of “personal responsibility” that erased or glossed over the racial politics affecting Asian and Latin American immigrants and the global forces underscoring immigration.

Keywords:   family, family values, family reunification, immigration, queer, nation of immigrants, neoliberal, second wave feminism, multiculturalism

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