In Immigration Outside the Law, acclaimed immigration law expert Hiroshi Motomura, addresses the fraught issue of illegal immigration to the United States, which has become one of the most controversial political and social issues in contemporary America.
Although America is unquestionably a nation of immigrants, its immigration policies have inspired more questions than consensus on who should be admitted and what the path to citizenship should be. In Americans in Waiting, Hiroshi Motomura looks to a forgotten part of our past to show how, for over 150 years, immigration was assumed to be a transition to citizenship, with immigrants essentially being treated as future citizens--Americans in waiting. Challenging current conceptions, the author deftly uncovers how this view, once so central to law and policy, has all but vanished. Motomura explains how America could create a more unified society by recovering this lost history and by giving immigrants more, but at the same time asking more of them. A timely, panoramic chronicle of immigration and citizenship in the United States, Americans in Waiting offers new ideas and a fresh perspective on current debates.
In Americans in Waiting, Motomura discovers in our national past a simple yet powerful approach to immigration and citizenship. Rewriting the conventional story, Motomura uncovers how for over 150 years, many immigrants were immediately put on track to U.S. citizenship. They were entitled to overseas diplomatic protection and eligible to homestead land on the western frontier. Citizens-to-be were even allowed to vote. In sum, immigration was assumed to be a transition to citizenship, and immigrants were future citizens--Americans in waiting. Once central to law and policy, this view has all but vanished. Beginning in the early twentieth century, the United States began to treat its immigrants in one of two ways: as signatories to a contract that sets the terms of their stay in this country, or as affiliates who can earn rights only as they become, over time, enmeshed in the nation's life. Immigration is now seen too often as a problem to be solved, rather than a pillar of our nation's strength.
A panoramic history of the past 200 years of immigration and citizenship in the United States, Americans in Waiting offers a clear lesson: only by recovering this lost history of immigration can we ensure that both current and future citizens share in the sense of belonging that is crucial to full participation in American life.
In 1975, Texas adopted a law allowing school districts to bar children from public schools if they were in the United States unlawfully. The US Supreme Court responded in 1982 with a landmark decision, Plyler v. Doe, that kept open the schoolhouse doors, allowing these children to get the education that state law would have denied. The Court established a childs constitutional right to attend public elementary and secondary schools, regardless of immigration status. With Plyler, three questions emerged that have remained central to the national conversation about immigration outside the law: What does it mean to be in the country unlawfully? What is the role of state and local governments in dealing with unauthorized migration? Are unauthorized migrants Americans in waiting? Today, as the United States weighs immigration reform, debates over illegal or undocumented immigrants have become more polarized than ever. In Immigration Outside the Law, acclaimed immigration law expert Hiroshi Motomura, author of the award-winning Americans in Waiting, offers a framework for understanding why these debates are so contentious. In a reasoned, lucid, and careful discussion, he explains the history of unauthorized migration, the sources of current disagreements, and points the way toward durable answers. In his refreshingly fair-minded analysis, Motomura explains the complexities of immigration outside the law for students and scholars, policy-makers looking for constructive solutions, and anyone who cares about this contentious issue.