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Immigrant Rights in the Shadows of Citizenship

Rachel Buff

Publication Year: 2008

Punctuated by marches across the United States in the spring of 2006, immigrant rights has reemerged as a significant and highly visible political issue. Immigrant Rights in the Shadows of U.S. Citizenship brings prominent activists and scholars together to examine the emergence and significance of the contemporary immigrant rights movement. Contributors place the contemporary immigrant rights movement in historical and comparative contexts by looking at the ways immigrants and their allies have staked claims to rights in the past, and by examining movements based in different communities around the United States. Scholars explain the evolution of immigration policy, and analyze current conflicts around issues of immigrant rights; activists engaged in the current movement document the ways in which coalitions have been built among immigrants from different nations, and between immigrant and native born peoples. The essays examine the ways in which questions of immigrant rights engage broader issues of identity, including gender, race, and sexuality.

Published by: NYU Press

Front Matter

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pp. ix-x

I had no idea that editing an anthology could be such a pleasure, or I would have done it a long time ago. My thanks to the hard work, intelligence and commitment of the contributors represented here. Reading their work and corresponding with them on this project was an unanticipated delight. A fellowship from the Morris Fromkin Research fund at the University of Wisconsin...

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Introduction: Toward a Redefinition of Citizenship Rights

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pp. 1-22

Unlike many other such rhymes being chanted bilingually that day, this one was recited only in Spanish. This means either that the 70,000 marchers present were confident of Mr. Bush’s fluency in the language or that, by addressing him in Spanish, they wished to indicate a struggle already taking place in realms they understood well, suggesting that he become aware of it...

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Part I: Narratives of Refuge and Resistance

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pp. 23-25

The image of the Statue of Liberty is a central one to political culture in the United States. A time-honored narrative of American national identity relates the story of a nation of immigrants, of people who, for so many reasons, needed and claimed refuge here. At the entry points of the nation — at immigration stations, asylum hearings, detention and deportation centers...

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1. On Being Here and Not Here: Noncitizen Status in American Immigration Law

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pp. 26-39

This essay looks at broad developments in the immigration law to point out how the status of all newcomers to the United States has become both more simple and more vulnerable in fundamental ways. I focus on a particular type of status created through federal court precedents, then codified in the federal immigration law since 1952...

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2. Acts of Resistance in Asylum Seekers’ Persecution Narratives

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pp. 40-54

Immigration law in the United States treats asylum seekers as a special category of migrants. It enacts a boundary reserving refuge for those who articulate persecution as the motivating decision to cross a national border. Consequently, a narrative of persecution is necessary in order to gain asylum...

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3. Family, Unvalued: Sex and Security: A Short History of Exclusions

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pp. 55-78

Richard Adams, a U.S. citizen, was in love with Anthony Sullivan, an Australian national. They lived together in Colorado in 1975. With Anthony’s visa about to expire, Adams tried to sponsor him for permanent residency in the United States. The written answer of the Immigration and Naturalization Service made its position...

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Primary Source: Boutilier v.Immigration Service, 1967

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pp. 79-93

Petitioner, an alien who at the time of his entry into the United States was a homosexual, held excludable under 212 (a) (4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, as one “afflicted with [a] psychopathic personality,” a term which Congress clearly intended to include homosexuals. Pp. 120 – 125. 363 F.2d 488, affirmed. Blanch Freedman argued the cause for petitioner. With her on the briefs was Robert Brown...

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4. Beyond the Day without an Immigrant: Immigrant Communities Building a Sustainable Movement

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pp. 94-121

It is without question that the immigrant rights protests of 2006 marked a milestone in U.S. history. Within the space of only a few weeks, millions of immigrants and their supporters marched in over 100 cities in almost every state in the country. The sheer magnitude of these mobilizations against H.R. 4437, or the Border Protection, Antiterrorism...

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Primary Source: National Network on Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Statements of Support, Spring 2006

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pp. 122-133

The following are documents from groups participating in NNIRR’s spring 2006 mobilization. These documents include statements from diverse human rights, legal, faith-based, and labor organizations. The Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law is a nonprofit, public-interest legal foundation specializing in immigration and poverty law. Formed in 1955, the American Federation of Labor...

Appendix: Groups Endorsing the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, 2006

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pp. 134-138

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Part II : Ambivalent Allies, Reluctant Rivals, and Disavowed Deviants

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pp. 139-141

As a political movement, immigrant rights necessarily involve coalition building. Just as immigration policy has often created odd categories to describe people — for example, the “Asian barred zone” operative throughout most of the twentieth century, which mapped the undesirability of all “Asian” people, from East Asia...

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5. “Pale Face ’Fraid You Crowd Him Out”: Racializing “Indians” and “Indianizing” Chinese Immigrants

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pp. 142-155

On the front cover of the February 8, 1879, edition of Harper’s Weekly: A Journal of Civilization is a drawing titled “Every Dog” (No Distinction of Color) “Has His Day” (Fig. 5.1). Artist Thomas Nast depicts a peculiar-looking male “Indian” leaning towards the attentive ear of a Chinese male caricature....

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Primary Source: People v. Hall, 1854

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pp. 156-158

Mr. Ch. J. Murray delivered the opinion of the Court. Mr. J. Heydenfeldt concurred. The appellant, a free white citizen of this State, was convicted of murder upon the testimony of Chinese witnesses. The point involved in this case is the admissibility of such evidence. The 394th section of the Act Concerning Civil Cases...

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6. A History of Black Immigration into the United States through the Lens of the African American Civil and Human Rights Struggle

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pp. 159-178

Long before the controversy over the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border, national origins quotas, and a national identification system, the nation faced a problem with undesirable Black immigrants. Even though the issue was introduced by a European initiative in the Americas, Black immigration has historically...

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7. Rescuing Elián: Gender and Race in Stories of Children’s Migration

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pp. 179-189

In June 2004, the Puerto Rican government reached a compromise with the Russian Consulate over the much-disputed fate of nine-year-old Arnas Gaurlicikas.1 Maritza Ramos, a Supreme Court judge, adopted the boy, who was born in Lithuania...

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8. The Rights of Respectability: Ambivalent Allies, Reluctant Rivals, and Disavowed Deviants

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pp. 190-206

In the spring of 2006, we witnessed a national mass mobilization opposing House Bill 4437, the Border Protection, Antiterrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act, also known as the Sensenbrenner Bill. Among the many undemocratic measures proposed, this bill, if passed and enacted, would increase crimes...

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Part III : Immigrant Acts

Th e title of this section is taken from Lisa Lowe’s magisterial book, Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1996), in which she sets forth the myriad ways that Asian immigrants to these shores have struggled for identity and power, and in doing so, have transformed the meaning of citizenship for all Americans...

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9. What Explains the Immigrant Rights Marches of 2006? Xenophobia and Organizing with Democracy Technology

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pp. 209-225

During the spring of 2006, millions of people, most of them Latino immigrants of various nationalities and ages, took to the streets to raise their voices and placards demanding justice in immigration reform. The marches were in favor of immigrant inclusion and civil rights — specifically, the right to legal status. Among the protestors were many people without legal, authorized immigration status....

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Primary Source: Shame of a Nation: A Documented Story of Police-State Terror against Mexican-Americans in the USA, 1954

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pp. 226-245

Patricia Morgan worked for the Los Angeles Committee for the Protection of Foreign Born during the 1950s. In April, 1954, President Eisenhower appointed a military man, a retired U.S. Army General like himself, as Commissioner of the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service, a post traditionally held by a civilian. Late in May, Congress confi rmed this appointment...

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pp. 246-265

It’s March 23, 2006. Milwaukee is the third city to turn out on the streets against Sensenbrenner’s HR 4437 and in support of legalization for the undocumented. Sí se puede. Sí se puede. We cross the Sixth Street Viaduct Bridge, a beautiful arching bone white bridge, from Southside Milwaukee to the Northside. When I am almost across, I turn to look back...

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11. Immigrant Workers Take the Lead: A Militant Humility Transforms L.A. Koreatown

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pp. 266-282

Where do leaders for our communities come from? How do people develop the skills to lead communities? In neighborhoods across the United States today, we often hear the following question: “Where are this generation’s Malcolm X...

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Part IV: Questions of Democracy

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pp. 283-285

Questions of immigrant rights are essentially questions about democracy and citizenship. By advocating for their rights as citizens and noncitizens, immigrants have transformed the nature of U.S. democracy since the early twentieth century...

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12. Who Should Manage Immigration — Congress or the States? An Introduction to Constitutional Immigration Law

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pp. 286-300

Scanning today’s headlines, airwaves, and weblogs, it’s easy to conclude that the United States is in a fairly anti-immigrant mood. From new federal laws authorizing the creation of a 700-mile border fence to increased security at airports and seaports, from calls for fewer immigrant visas to crackdowns on undocumented workers...

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13. The Undergraduate Railroad: Undocumented Immigrant Students and Public Universities

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pp. 301-314

In 1982, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Plyler v. Doe that states cannot deny undocumented children a K – 12 education.1 Writing for the majority, Justice William Brennan asserted the right of these children to equal protection under...

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14. Our Immigrant Coreligionists: The National Catholic Welfare Conference as an Advocate for Immigrants in the 1920s

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pp. 315-328

At an Ash Wednesday Mass in 2006, Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Los Angeles Archdiocese pledged to initiate a campaign of civil disobedience if Congress passed a law making it illegal to give assistance to undocumented immigrants. In an editorial in the New York Times, he complained that through this sort of legislation...

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15. Building Coalitions for Immigrant Power

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pp. 329-342

More than 12.4 million people lived in Illinois as of 2005. Of these, 1.7 million, or 13.6 percent, are foreign-born, and 1.5 million are the U.S.-born children of immigrants. About one-half of Illinois’ immigrants entered the United States between 1995 and 2005...

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Primary Source: Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, 2006

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pp. 343-346

CHICAGO, IL ( June 26, 2006) — “The Opportunity Is Now: Participate, Become A Citizen, Vote”; that was the message sent to Chicago’s nearly 500,000 immigrants who are eligible for citizenship by Congressmen Luis Gutierrez and Jan Schawkowsky when they joined dozens of leaders of immigrant groups, business and community organizations...

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16. Their Liberties, Our Security

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pp. 347-362

On January 24, 2002, the U.S. military transported John Walker Lindh, a young American raised in Marin County, California, and captured with the Taliban on the battlefields of Afghanistan, to Alexandria, Virginia, where he was to be indicted in a civilian criminal court for conspiring to kill Americans...

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Primary Source: The Deportation Terror: A Weapon to Gag America, 1950

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pp. 363-382

Abner Green is executive secretary of the American Committee for Protection of Foreign Born. He has filled this post since 1942, and, previous to that, served as educational director and Washington Legislative Representative for the Committee. A native of New York, Mr. Green is also serving...

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Part V : Afterwords

The authors in this collection have shown how the concept of “immigrant rights” draws on, contradicts, and complicates existing categories of citizenship and nation. In the early twenty-first century, with free trade agreements facilitating the mobility of corporations and migrants crossing international borders...

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17. The Mexican-American War and Whitman’s “Song of Myself ”:A Foundational Borderline Fantasy

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pp. 385-401

In A Forgetful Nation: On Immigration and Cultural Identity in the United States, Ali Behdad has established a heretofore unrecognized connection between U.S. culture’s mythical representation of itself as an “Immigrant Nation” and the negation of the history of the violence inflicted against immigrants that this self-forgetful representation...

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18. Rights in a Transnational Era

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pp. 402-424

The post-9/11 treatment of immigrants in the United States, particularly those of South Asian and Middle Eastern descent, has reanimated an interest in the civil rights entitlements of those who, regardless of their immigration or citizenship status, are perceived as threats to U.S. national security...

About the Contributors

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pp. 425-432


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pp. 433-445

E-ISBN-13: 9780814789742
E-ISBN-10: 0814789749
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814799918
Print-ISBN-10: 0814799914

Page Count: 448
Publication Year: 2008

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Mysticism.
  • Emigration and immigration law -- United States -- History.
  • Immigrants -- Civil rights -- United States -- History.
  • Immigrants -- Government policy -- United States -- History.
  • Social integration -- Government policy -- United States -- History.
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