We study the role played by foreign born U.S. citizens in shaping migration policy between 1897–1924. Using a novel district level dataset, we find systematic evidence that this constituency supported an open door policy. At the same time, more stringent residency requirements led to a decline in the election turnout rates of naturalized Americans, and thus in their ability to affect congressmen immigration stance. Our analysis highlights also the importance of the electoral booth: congressmen were responsive to the immigrant constituency only if they were elected in a close race, or if they were not already ideologically committed to an open door policy.
(Co-authored with Costanza Biavaschi.)