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Three Worlds of ReliefRace, Immigration, and the American Welfare State from the Progressive Era to the New Deal$
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Cybelle Fox

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691152233

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691152233.001.0001

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The WPA and the (Short-Lived) Triumph of Nativism

The WPA and the (Short-Lived) Triumph of Nativism

(p.214) Chapter 9 The WPA and the (Short-Lived) Triumph of Nativism
Three Worlds of Relief

Cybelle Fox

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses the subsequent battle over citizenship and legal status restrictions in the Works Progress Administration (WPA), and the local implementation of those restrictions. When the WPA was first authorized in 1935, there were no citizenship or legal status restrictions for access to the program. Just as with Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), New Deal officials expressly forbade local WPA administrators from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, or non-citizenship. Because of these non-discrimination provisions, blacks and Mexican Americans gained unprecedented access to WPA employment. Over time, however, Congress imposed successively harsher restrictions against aliens, barring the employment of illegal aliens on WPA projects in 1936 and imposing a full ban for legal non-citizens by 1939. While these citizenship restrictions constituted the greatest challenge to aliens' access to the welfare state during this period, its impact was short-lived and its effects fell disproportionately on Mexican non-citizens.

Keywords:   citizenship restrictions, legal status restrictions, Works Progress Administration, non-citizenship, illegal aliens, Mexican non-citizens, welfare state

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