Despite obvious overlaps between immigration law, asylum law, and citizenship, legal scholars have tended to disaggregate them, studying them in isolation. This Article brings asylum law in closer conversation with both immigration law and citizenship, showing how immigration and asylum work dynamically to construct second-class citizenship both in the past and the present. To do this, the Article uses a historical case study involving 522 Chinese immigrants in northern Mexico who in 1917 gained entry into the United States despite the immigration restrictions of the U.S.’ Chinese Exclusion Act, and in 1921 were granted the right to remain in the country as permanent legal residents. Providing an historical lens through which to juxtapose immigration, asylum, and citizenship, the Article thus advances a more holistic approach to these bodies of law and society in the supposedly “post-racial” United States. It shows how the immigration-asylum dynamic illuminated through the case of Pershing’s Chinese refugees continues to engage race to define who belongs in the nation and how in the twenty first century.
The paper is available for download here, at SSRN.