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The concept of “illegal immigration” may seem like it’s been around forever, but it’s actually relatively recent. To understand how we got to the point where any human being could be written off as “illegal,” we have to go back and explore how America has treated immigrants throughout its history. And while the names, faces, and nationalities of immigrants may change from generation to generation, the racist inclination to reject the “otherness” they represent has been one of the most reliably consistent features of the United States.

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