This essay will appear in the forthcoming Blackwell Companion to American Legal History. The essay explores the major works and themes in the history of U.S. immigration law, including attention to the histories of immigrants themselves. One of the challenges, and opportunities, of studying immigrants and the history of immigration law is grappling with the contradictions and inconsistencies of this politically-charged category. Immigration law is a window onto American perceptions of national identity. According to the classic formulation, the U.S. is a "nation of immigrants," its past and future tied inextricably to the waves of migrants who came, and continue to come, to its shores seeking the mythical "American Dream." Yet alongside that mythical, constitutive story of inclusion is an equally strong story of exclusion, more often than not along lines of race, class, and political ideology. Law has played a pivotal role in both these stories, serving alternately as a mechanism for drawing in immigrants and as a tool for excluding and marginalizing them. Law has been, and continues to be, central in shaping and defining the immigrant experience in the United States. This essay seeks both to explain the general trends over time in immigration law as well as to introduce the reader to the seminal texts in the field. It is divided into four main sections which proceed in rough chronological order, each exploring the major secondary literature and themes for that particular time period.Image credit.
Monday, January 24, 2011
Tirres on Immigrants and the Law in American History
Allison Brownell Tirres, DePaul University College of Law, has posted Who Belongs? Immigrants and the Law in American History, which will appear in the Blackwell Companion to American Legal History, ed. Alfred Brophy and Sally Hadden (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012). Here is the abstract: