AbstractsPolitical Science

Redefining American: The Shifting Politics of Immigration Policy at the End of the Twentieth Century

by Sarah Coleman

Institution: Princeton University
Year: 2016
Keywords: civil rights; immigration; policy; politics; welfare
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2066320
Full text PDF: http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/dsp0147429c61w


“Redefining American: The Shifting Politics of Immigration Policy at the End of the Twentieth Century” explores how politicians, activists, communities and the courts strove to define the rights of immigrants in the United States since the passage of the Hart-Celler Act of 1965, which initiated an era of mass immigration from Central America, Asia, and Southeast Asia. This period of massive immigration led to a fierce struggle between advocates seeking to ensure rights and benefits for newcomers, and supporters of limited admissions and restrictions on immigrants’ rights. America’s transition to a post-industrial economy, combined with increased numbers of non-union and immigrant workers, challenged the structure of labor markets and also the welfare state, intensifying and reinventing the debates over immigration, citizenship, and rights. Battles over education, health, welfare, and civil liberties were deeply influenced by this influx of immigration. Initially during the 1970s, a network of liberal activists were able to expand the rights of noncitizens to include protection from workplace discrimination, the benefits of the welfare state, and the right to education and other social services in the 1970s. Rising restrictionist sentiment countered some of these successes and between the 1970s and the 1990s, restrictionists redefined the relationship between immigrants and the state. Although this process began with critiques of unauthorized immigrants, by the 1990s, the debate evolved into a larger conversation about the nature of rights for all immigrants. As a result, legal immigrants lost many of their claims upon the state, which created newly sharpened distinctions between people who had full citizenship status and rights and those who did not. Advisors/Committee Members: Zelizer, Julian E (advisor).