Immigration: History, Law, and Controversy


“In its first words on the subject of citizenship, Congress in 1790 restricted naturalization to ‘white persons.’ . . .  [T]his racial prerequisite to citizenship endured for over a century and a half, remaining in force until 1952.  From the earliest years of this country until just a generation ago, being a "white person" was a condition for acquiring citizenship.” -- Ian Haney Lopez, White By Law, 1.

Most people do not realize that the notion of the United States as a “white” majority nation is largely a construction of law. In the Fall, this program looked at how our understanding of immigration history and law changes if we shift our view from Ellis Island in New York’s harbor to the American West. In Winter quarter, we’ll look at the current landscape of immigration law and policy at restrictionist and immigrant-rights movements. How does the law determine who gets to be an “American?” How are concepts of race embedded in immigration law and policy?

Students will build some basic legal skills through reading and researching important cases and laws. We’ll look at the issues that have arisen in the last two decades and at current controversies about immigration, immigrant workers, labor movements, and the varied ways communities respond to the most recent immigration boom.

Major areas of study include: U.S. history, immigration history, immigration law, politics, American studies, and critical race theory. The program is preparatory for careers and future studies in history, law, labor organizing, government and politics, and management.

Winter Books:
Deporting Our Souls. . . Values, Morality, and Immigration Policy, by Bill Ong Hing, Cambridge University Press, 2006
Guarding the Golden Door: American Immigration Policy and Immigrants Since 1882, by Roger Daniels, Hill and Wang, 2004
Entry Denied: Controlling Sexuality at the Border, by Eithne Luibeid, University of Minnesota Press, 2002
Linked Labor Histories: New England, Colombia, and the Making of a Global Working Class, by Aviva Chomsky, Duke University Press, 2008
Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants, by David Bacon, Beacon Press, 2008
Opening the Floodgates: Why America Needs to Rethink its Borders and Immigration Laws, by Kevin Johnson, NYU Press, 2007
Immigration Law and Procedure in a Nutshell, by David S. Weissbrodt, Laura Danielson, West Group Publishing, 2005