As the United States confronts a surge of unaccompanied minors at its southern border, the political activity of undocumented immigrants within its borders, and unprecedented levels of deportation, the country faces — yet again — a series of familiar questions. How many immigrants should we admit? What do we owe to immigrants? How should we treat them after they have arrived? In grappling with such questions, however, we do not often examine the long history of immigration and citizenship law. In this lecture, legal historian Kunal Parker will range over four centuries of immigration and citizenship law and canvass the histories of immigrants, Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, women, and the poor, exploring the American legal tradition of not only excluding and removing those from other countries, but also of rendering foreign their own populations.
Kunal Parker is professor of law and Dean’s Distinguished Scholar at the University of Miami School of Law. Trained in law at Harvard University and history at Princeton University, his work as a scholar has focused on the history of American legal thought, the history of American immigration and citizenship law, and the philosophy of history. His first book, Common Law, History, and Democracy in America, 1790–1900: Legal Thought Before Modernism, appeared in 2011. As the 2014–15 Ruth W. and A. Morris Williams Fellow at the Center, he worked on a book on the history of U.S. immigration and citizenship law from the colonial period to the end of the twentieth century.