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Am J Public Health. 2004 Apr;94(4):528-39.

Policies of inclusion: immigrants, disease, dependency, and American immigration policy at the dawn and dusk of the 20th century.

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Center for the History and Ethics of Public Health, Department of Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.


The racial politics of immigration have punctuated national discussions about immigration at different periods in US history, particularly when concerns about losing an American way of life or American population have coincided with concerns about infectious diseases. Nevertheless, the main theme running through American immigration policy is one of inclusion. The United States has historically been a nation reliant on immigrant labor and, accordingly, the most consequential public policies regarding immigration have responded to disease and its economic burdens by seeking to control the behavior of immigrants within our borders rather than excluding immigrants at our borders.

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