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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Deportation Nation: Outsiders in American History

Deportation Nation: Outsiders in America

Daniel Kanstroom, Associate Director
The Center for Human Rights and International Justice, Boston College

Date: October 17, 2007
Location: Boisi Center
Time: 12:00-1:15 PM

headshot of Daniel Kanstroom

Daniel Kanstroom is the Director of the Boston College Law School International Human Rights Program and Clinical Professor of Law. Professor Kanstroom has lectured on human rights and immigration law at many U.S. universities and community events, as well as at the University of Paris, the University of Kent (Canterbury), and the Monteverde Institute (Costa Rica). He has been a visiting professor at Université du Littoral Côte d’Opale (Boulogne sur Mer). He has published widely in the fields of U.S. immigration law, criminal law, and European citizenship and asylum law in such venues as the Harvard Law Review, the Yale Journal of International Law, the Georgetown Immigration Law Journal, and the French Gazette du Palais.

Professor Kanstroom is the founder and director of the Boston College Immigration and Asylum Clinic, in which students represent indigent non-citizens and asylum-seekers. He has extensive experience litigating immigration and asylum cases at every level of the U.S. legal system. Professor Kanstroom completed his B.A. at State University of New York at Binghamton, his J.D. at Northeastern University, and his LL.M. at Harvard University.

book cover for Deportation Nation

In his new book Deportation Nation, Kanstroom explains the deportation of non-citizens from the United States. The danger of deportation hangs over the head of virtually every non-citizen in the United States. In the complexities and inconsistencies of immigration law, one can find a reason to deport almost any non-citizen at almost any time. In recent years, the system has been used with unprecedented vigor against millions of deportees. We are a nation of immigrants- but which ones do we want, and what do we do with those that we don't? These questions have troubled American law and politics since colonial times. Deportation Nation is a chilling history of communal self-idealization and self-protection. The post-Revolutionary Alien and Sedition Laws, the Fugitive Slave laws, the Indian "removals," the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Palmer Raids, the internment of the Japanese Americans- all sought to remove those whose origins suggested they could never become "true" Americans. And for more than a century, millions of Mexicans have conveniently served as cheap labor, crossing a border that was not official until the early twentieth century and being sent back across it when they became a burden. By illuminating the shadowy corners of American history, Daniel Kanstroom shows that deportation has long been a legal tool to control immigrants' lives and is used with increasing crudeness in a globalized but xenophobic world.