Americans in Waiting: The Lost Story of Immigration and Citizenship in the United States

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9780195163452: Americans in Waiting: The Lost Story of Immigration and Citizenship in the United States

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.

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From the Publisher:

Advance Praise for Americans in Waiting

"Hiroshi Motomura's portrait of immigration history in the United States is as poignant as it is precise. Americans in Waiting emphasizes the need to treat lawful immigrants more inclusively, and welcome them as future citizens who will help revitalize the American Dream for future generations, as they have done throughout history." -- U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy

"Motomura recovers an important conception of immigration implicit in U.S. law and policy in earlier times: the idea of immigrants as future citizens. In Motomura's skillful hands, the concept takes on new life and provides important insights into current debates on citizenship. With comprehensive historical sweep and theoretical insight, Americans in Waiting masterfully charts the way to more inclusive policies that are true to the U.S.'s identity as a nation of immigrants and that promote a robust and cohesive notion of citizenship." -- T. Alexander Aleinikoff, author of Semblances of Sovereignty: The Constitution, The State, and American Citizenship

"Americans in Waiting is a rare achievement in its ability to engage both non-specialists and scholarly and professional audiences. Motomura elegantly weaves together the history and modern developments of immigration law and American conceptions of immigrants, making complex topics much more understandable. His provocative proposal--that the United States should treat lawful immigrants as future citizens, conferring upon them equal rights and benefits as they establish permanent residence--is certain to spark a healthy debate about the future of American immigration and citizenship. This is a timely book, and one that encourages us to think more deeply about the consequences of American citizenship policies." -- Lucy Salyer, author of Laws Harsh as Tigers: Chinese Immigrants and the Shaping of Modern Immigration Law

"A unique, original and insightful analysis of policies regarding immigrant rights. Based on a careful reading of an impressively wide range of legal decisions, few of which are part of the corpus of the most significant social scientific literature on immigration law, he develops a tripartite conceptualization that illustrates alternative theories of immigrant rights. Americans in Waiting merits the attention of all serious students of immigrant incorporation." -- Rodolfo O. de la Garza, author of Making Americans, Remaking America: Immigration and Immigrant Policy

About the Author:

Hiroshi Motomura is Susan Westerberg Prager Professor of Law at UCLA and author of Americans in Waiting.

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