Thursday Lecture Series

The Journey Continued

Thursday, The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room

"The Journey Continued: Nineteenth-Century American Deportation Policy, Laws of Belonging, and the Lives of Deportees in Britain and Ireland” introduces one of the chapters in Hirota's current book manuscript, Expelling the Poor, which examines the origins of American immigration control. In response to the influx of a large number of impoverished Irish immigrants during the 1840s, New York and Massachusetts developed laws for rejecting the landing of immigrant paupers and deporting them back to Europe. Drawing from Irish and British archival materials, such as local newspapers, workhouse records, and Parliamentary documents, this presentation explores what happened to Irish deportees after being shipped to Liverpool or Irish port cities.

The expelled Irish paupers’ post-deportation experiences in Liverpool and Ireland reveal some of the harsh aspects of nineteenth-century American deportation policy, such as the utter neglect of deportees’ welfare during the cross-ocean voyage and the practice of abandoning deportees on the street without basic provisions for self support like money and food. Stories presented in this presentation demonstrate that deportation was not a mere legal embodiment of anti-immigrant sentiment but a policy that enormously and extensively impacted deportees’ lives far beyond the moment of expulsion from the nation.

The presentation also illuminates the transnational dimensions of American immigration policy. By analyzing British and Irish officials’ responses to Irish deportees, the presentation shows how the legal concept of belonging, which American, British, and Irish officials shared, created the world in which Irish deportees were thrown out. Under this concept, Irish migrant paupers were not only deported from the United States to Liverpool but also further deported from Liverpool to Ireland and socially marginalized in Ireland. The direct driving force for American deportation policy was anti-Irish nativism, but this policy unfolded within a larger legal culture of excluding non-producing members from societies that was operating in an transatlantic context.