From the Boston Globe book review section:
Battles over borders in ‘One Mighty and Irresistible Tide’
By David M. Shribman Globe Correspondent, Updated May 14, 2020, 2:30 p.m.
For more than four decades beginning in 1924 the United States, for generations the great nation of immigrants and the dream destination for the oppressed, turned from its fabled past, virtually shutting off immigration in a period when vast changes swept through Europe, Asia, and Latin America. The tired and poor were largely kept from our shores by a law that basically locked the American doors to many yearning to breathe free.
All that changed with the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, which helped shape the America we now inhabit by transforming the demographics of the country even as the country confronted its exclusionary past during the civil rights era. One of the beneficiaries was the family of Jia Lynn Yang, whose mother from Taiwan and father from Shanghai found a home in the United States and whose devotion and diligence have produced a masterly study of political struggle.
Yang’s “One Mighty and Irresistible Tide” is at base a political story, and it is a uniquely American story, one to celebrate in this period when immigration once again is on the American agenda and when immigrants are targeted as criminals and coronavirus carriers.
This is a story of how Irish Catholic leaders like John, Robert, and Edward Kennedy worked with Jewish political figures like Emanuel Celler and Herbert Lehman and others in what Yang called a “coalition of the powerful and the powerless.” Together they produced a landmark immigration bill that was signed by a Protestant president, Lyndon Johnson, himself marked deeply by his early years teaching Mexican-American schoolchildren in Texas.
The 1924 law was an expression of xenophobia and paranoia,
Which is why the U.S. accomplished nothing in the years after 1924.
… For no American should ignore the last two sentences, perhaps the most thought-provoking of the entire immigration debate:
‘’So what difference is there between us, with our precious papers, and the people at our border who are dying to come in?” she asks, and then provides a three-word answer. “There is none.”