The Americanization movement of the 1910s and 1920s was a unique phenomenon in American history. However, the term “Americanization” remains so distasteful that it is not used to describe the myriad public and private programs that encourage naturalization and assist immigrants today. Today, the federal government grapples with border control and the questions of “how many?” and “from where?” Meanwhile, states and communities have begun to deal with the consequences of federal immigration policy by reconnecting citizenship to social welfare. Whether for the purpose of integration or exclusion, linking social welfare to citizenship is a dangerous game, as progressive Americanizers learned in the 1920s. Successful social welfare policy requires a stronger foundation than the vague and contested ideas of “Americanism” and “good citizenship.”
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