Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Preyer Awards to Padilla-Rodriguez, Ghosh

Earlier this summer we announced this year's ASLH Kathryn T. Preyer Scholars. Following the annual meeting, where both scholars presented their papers, we now have formal citations to share.

Ivon Padilla-Rodriguez, “Los Hijos Son La Riqueza Del Pobre:” Postwar Mexican Child Migration and the Making of Domestic (Im)migrant Exclusion, 1940-1965” 

Ivon Padilla-Rodriguez gives us a spellbinding sociolegal history of twentieth century child migrants at the borders outside and within the United States. Most scholars have focused on US officials’ concentration on single males after World War II. Padilla-Rodriguez employs overlooked sources to shine a spotlight on the many forms of rights violations Latinix children and their parents have endured between 1940 and 1965. She demonstrates the complicity of welfare and government officials in confining noncitizen children in detention center “cages” and in deporting them on “penal hell” ships. She shows, too, how those officials criminalized noncitizen and U.S. citizen children for their labor mobility and academic truancy and deprived them of access to a quality education. In Padilla-Rodriguez’s gifted hands, contemporary policies of immigration detention emerge as part of a long, sad history, rather than as a fresh departure.

Smita Ghosh, “Policing the ‘Police State’: Detention, Supervision, and Deportation During the Cold War” 

Smita Ghosh offers a fascinating account of the fight against the detention, supervision, and deportation of “red,” or communist, aliens. Her imaginative archival research shows how the American Committee for the Protection of the Foreign Born and its lawyers seized on the language of the Cold War to depict the McCarran Internal Security Act as a threat to the American “way of life” that would encourage “Gestapo-type” tactics and promote a “police state.” They also capitalized on the whiteness and assimilability of Eastern European aliens in the United States; their undeportable status because other countries refused to accept them; and the growing corpus of administrative law. The American Committee and its lawyers won the release of detained immigrants and limited the most draconian efforts to supervise nondeportable non-citizens. “Policing the ‘Police State’” provides a rare “success story” for “undesirable” aliens during the Cold War era and an extraordinarily illuminating prism on the expansion of state power.

The members of this year's Kathryn T. Preyer Scholars selection committee were Elizabeth Katz, Will Smiley, Anders Walker, Laura Kalman (Chair), Gautham Rao (ex officio), and the late Anne Fleming.

-- Karen Tani