Denied, Detained, Deported

  • The Statue of Liberty's welcoming figure is a symbol held dear to Americans. The famous lines from Emma Lazarus's poem: "Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free… Send these, the homeless, the tempest-tost to me," speak of an unqualified welcome to the land of immigrants. For many, it has been. But not for all. The reality is that U.S. immigration policy, both throughout history and today, has often been more limiting than encompassing, and sometimes it has even been ruled by racism, prejudice, political concerns, and fear.

    Immigrants yearning to breathe free have found themselves denied, as when the St. Louis, a ship filled with Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany sought refuge in American ports and was turned away. Immigrants have found themselves detained, as when Japanese Americans during World War II were rounded up and placed in detention centers—regardless of their patriotism—for security reasons. And immigrants have found themselves deported, sometimes for their radical political views, as did Emma Goldman, who after 30 years in the U.S. was sent back to Russia after she was branded a dangerous extremist.

    Ann Bausum examines these immigrant stories from history, the stories of the denied, detained, and deported, so that we can learn from past mistakes. Shedding light on the dark side of immigration helps inform one of the most important policy debates of our time. It helps us chart a course that will keep the golden lamp of liberty burning bright.

    Poem foreword by Naomi Shihab Nye.

  • The more I work with history, the more I marvel at the echoes from the past. Sometimes these echoes occur when current events repeat patterns from earlier eras. Sometimes they speak through visits to historic places. One of the places I visited while researching Denied, Detained, Deported was the site of the former Manzanar internment camp in eastern California. In preparation for writing "Detained," the book's fourth chapter, I wanted to visit one of the places where Japanese Americans were imprisoned during World War II.

    Welcome to history. A sign marks the entry point to the Manzanar prison camp.

    In August of 2008 I added a couple of days to a business trip in the Los Angeles area and set out to visit the Manzanar National Historic Site. This national park facility preserves the remains of one of the ten prison camps where some 120,000 Japanese Americans—most of them U.S. citizens—where incarcerated following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, by the Japanese government in 1941 and the subsequent U.S. entry into World War II.

    The site is located in Owens Valley, one valley west of Death Valley. Just driving to the site reinforced what I had read about these relocation centers: They were in the middle of nowhere in some of the harshest, most desolate environments imaginable. It took me hours to cross the state as I drove through blistering heat, grateful for the car's air conditioning and the supply of water I'd brought along for the trip. I visited the historic site early the next morning, and, even with the sun barely up, I found myself sweating as I walked, photographed, and explored via car the remains of the vast encampment.

    This replica of one of the camp's guard towers reminds visitors that residents were kept under constant surveillance at Manzana.

    In my chapter about the wartime treatment of Japanese Americans, I share the experiences of Mary Matsuda and her family. Although the Matsudas did not stay at Manzanar, their experiences took place in similar environments. Mary recorded her memories in a moving recollection called Looking Like the Enemy. For me, the visit to Manzanar added spatial dimensions to the descriptions of uncertainty, fear, boredom, and frustration that she conveys in her evocative, powerful book.

    Even if you can't visit Manzanar in person, you can explore historical images from the site through the Library of Congress. Noted landscape photographer Ansel Adams took hundreds of photos at the camp in 1943 on assignment for the U.S. government. A few of them are available through a collection overview posting. Hundreds more taken by Adams and other photographers may be found by entering the search term "Manzanar" in the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog.I've included a few of my snapshots from the trip in the following photo essay. They provide eerie echoes of history from an earlier age. In some cases I've even added links to comparative images taken during the camp's occupation.

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    • Welcome to history. A sign marks the entry point to the Manzanar prison camp.


    • This replica of one of the camp's guard towers reminds visitors that residents were kept under constant surveillance at Manzanar.


    • Camp buildings were sold and recycled after World War II. Foundations (and park signs) mark where they stood.


    • Entrance to the Manzanar cemetery: People were born in the camps, and people died there, too. This monument is one of the few original camp features to survive the test of time.


    • Although the Japanese Americans were not permitted to bring pets with them to camp, over time they adopted new ones. Animals had their own camp cemetery.


    • The residents of the prison camp may have lost their freedom, but the name of their newspaper—Manzanar Free Press—referenced this American right. Ansel Adams photographed the newspaper office in 1943.


    • Street scenes from the past can be imagined by viewing the remains of roads like this one around a traffic circle.


    • Street scenes from the past can be imagined by viewing the remains of roads like this one leading to the camp's entrance check point.

  • Each chapter of Denied, Detained, Deported explores a different example of immigration policy gone wrong from our nation's past. Questions raised within each section are intended to help readers connect past events with present debates about immigration. Here are some suggested points of discussion that could be used with the book's five chapters.

    Chapter 1—Excluded. Use Chapter 1 to study how the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and other immigration policies affected the migration and status of Chinese American immigrants and their descendants. What factors contributed to the development of these restrictions? What led to their lifting? What themes from these debates echo in current events and discussions over immigration reform today?

    Chapter 2—Deported. Review the story of the Red Scare deportations from Chapter 2 and discuss what factors influenced these deportations. To what extent was policy influenced by fear, public opinion, and politics? Were the deportations justified? How has the U.S. managed similar circumstances in subsequent times of heightened national security concern?

    Chapter 3—Denied. Use the experiences from Chapter 3 of the Karliner family to imagine their points of view during their experiences. Can you imagine how others felt? What about the ship's captain and crew, the passengers allowed to disembark in Cuba, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and so on? Put yourself in their shoes. How would you feel upon leaving your home? How would you handle being separated from other family members? What would you miss the most if you had lost friends or family as a result of the forced return to Europe? If you could have written a letter to President Roosevelt arguing for admission to the U.S., what would youhave said?

    Chapter 4—Detained. Compare the treatment of Arab Americans during the wars of the 21st century with the treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II as noted in Chapter 4. How do circumstances from the past (such as prejudice, imprisonment, and patriotism) echo (or not) in current times? What influenced the U.S. government to incarcerate most Japanese Americans during World War II? What influenced the government to avoid a similar reaction following the 9-11 attacks of 2001?

    Chapter 5—Exploited. Examine through Chapter 5 the cyclical nature of immigration between Mexico and the United States. What historical circumstances help explain today's diverse points of view about immigration reform? Construct a debate representing the perspectives of illegal immigrants, U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants (who therefore have status as U.S. citizens), legal immigrants and their descendants, and voices in favor of limiting or broadening the rights of immigrants. Examine how the word "reform" can be used by each perspective and yet represent different outcomes. Compare these multiple viewpoints using the rubric of economics, prejudice, national security, and patriotism. What role does fear play in those frameworks for analysis?

  • Citizens Detained!
    And Other Stories from the Dark Side of American Immigration

    A program for young people and teens grades 5 and up
    Alternate program available for adult audiences
    by Ann Bausum

    Although many stories from U.S. immigration history are heart-warming and instill pride in our tradition of welcoming newcomers to America, there is a darker side to our immigration past, too. I explored that more troubling history in Denied, Detained, Deported through a series of episodic accounts of U.S. immigration policy gone wrong.

    This presentation focuses in particular on one of the five incidents recounted in that book: The detention of some 120,000 Japanese-Americans (a majority of whom were U.S. citizens) as a homeland security precaution during World War II. Using archival and contemporary images I outline the nature of this massive incarceration and explore the motives behind it. I talk about my research of this history, too, including my visit to Manzanar National Historic Site, one of the prison camps from this era.

    I introduce additional examples of the dark side of American immigration, too, drawing on other stories from the book—the exclusion of Chinese-Americans, the deportation of activists during the Red Scare that followed World War I, the denied entry of refugees from pre-war Nazi Germany, and the exploitation of immigrant Mexican workers. Threads emerge throughout the presentation of repeating patterns from earlier abuses that connect to the present day.

    Length: approximately 40 minutes for the program, 10-15 minutes for questions.

    Technical requirements: LCD projector and projection screen.

    Audience feedback on this program:

    "Fantastic visual aids—pictures really illustrated meanings. Very pleased with your ability to interact with the different age groups. You fielded questions very well."
    —Middle and high school librarian, Colorado

  • "With personal narratives and heartbreaking photographs, this beautifully designed photo-essay connects past immigration issues of economics, racism, national security, and patriotism with what is happening now....Individual chapters look closely at instances of immigration gone wrong....Following these moving profiles, Bausum discusses crucial contemporary problems, including the post-9/11 debate about monitoring Islamic extremists. Throughout, she is passionate about the respect due to illegal immigrants, even as she shows the unions' concern that illegals keep wages low.....A landmark title, sure to spark intense discussion."
    Booklist, starred review
    May 1, 2009

    "Opening with Emma Lazarus's famous poem, 'The New Colossus,' and a powerful response poem by Naomi Shihab Nye, this volume deals frankly with the more troubling aspects of United States immigration policy. The author chose the stories of three immigrants. Each one stands alone, but read together they show a disturbing trend....Each story explores parallels in the present day. The themes of the three stories are unified by the introduction and conclusion....Photographs throughout will help students relate to the narrative....This book is not intended to cover the entire topic of immigration, but instead focuses solely on instances in which the United States appears to have made mistakes....This is an interesting and readable book, well worth purchasing for any collection."
    School Library Journal, starred review
    May 1, 2009

    "Emma Lazarus's poem "New Colossus," followed by a new poem by Naomi Shihab Nye...open this compelling look at ways the United States has sometimes rejected, ejected, and exploited individuals wanting to make a home here....Each [chapter] builds on those that come before....The design of [photos] presented is striking....This eye-opening volume offers a critical perspective on policies and attitudes of our nation."
    CCBC Choices, 2010

  • 2010 Carter G. Woodson Book Award
    National Council for the Social Studies

    Tofte/Wright Children's Literature Award
    Council for Wisconsin Writers

    YALSA 2010 Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults
    award nominee

    Teacher's Choice
    International Reading Association

    Notable Books for a Global Society
    International Reading Association

    Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People
    National Council for the Social Studies and the Children's Book Council

    Choices 2010
    Cooperative Children's Book Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison

    Best of the Best in 2009
    Chicago Public Library

  • Angel Island Immigration Station

    Ellis Island Immigration Museum

    Ellis Island database for passenger lists

    Emma Goldman online exhibit

    Emma Goldman papers

    Exploring the Japanese American Internment

    Japanese American National Museum
    Clara Breed Collection

    Museum of Chinese in America

    The Peopling of America

    U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Online exhibit about the "Voyage of the St. Louis"

    American Experience: Emma Goldman

    PBS: Children of the Camps

    Dear Miss Breed, by Joanne Oppenheim, Scholastic, 2006.

    Looking Like the Enemy, by Mary Matsuda Gruenewald, NewSage Press, young readers edition, 2011.

    Refuge Denied: The St. Louis Passengers and the Holocaust, by Sarah A. Ogilvie and Scott Miller, The University of Wisconsin Press, 2006.

    Unraveling Freedom
    What could have been a chapter in Denied, Detained, Deported became its own book. Explore the treatment of German-Americans during World War I during this accounting of the era's battle for democracy on the home front.

  • •  Denied, Detained, Deported: Stories from the Dark Side of American Immigration

    •  Published April 2009

    •  National Geographic Society

    •  $21.95

    •  112 pages, hardcover

    •  More than 75 archival photos and illustrations

    •  Extensive back matter, including a comprehensive time line of U.S. immigration history, research notes, citations, resource guide, bibliography, index

    •  ISBN 978-1-4263-0137-7

    •  Audio edition available from Recorded Books