Abstract

Most scholars argue that the global triumph of liberal norms within the last 150 years ended discriminatory immigration policy. Yet, the United States was a leader in the spread of policy restrictions aimed at Asian migrants during the early twentieth century, and authoritarian Latin American regimes removed racial discrimination from their immigration laws a generation before the United States and Canada did. By the same token, critical theorists claim that racism has not diminished, but most states have removed their discriminatory laws, thus allowing significant ethnic transformation within their borders. An analysis of the immigration policies of the twenty-two major countries of the Americas since 1850 reveals that liberal states have been discriminatory precisely because of their liberalism and elucidates the diffusion of international legal norms of racial exclusion and inclusion.

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