Late Breaking: Immigration Control and Resistance: Historicizing the Present Moment, a Conversation between Historians and Activists

AHA Session
Saturday, January 6, 2018: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Roosevelt Room 2 (Marriott Wardman Park, Exhibition Level)
Chantel Rodriguez, University of Maryland, College Park
Julie Greene, University of Maryland, College Park
Madeline Hsu, University of Texas at Austin
Luis Mancheno, Bronx Defenders
Rebecca Press, Central American Legal Assistance
The Audience

Session Abstract

This roundtable will consist of a conversation between two senior immigration historians – Julie Greene, University of Maryland, and Madeline Hsu, University of Texas – and two senior representatives from immigrant legal and social aid organizations – Luis Mancheno, Bronx Defenders, and Rebecca Press, Central American Legal Assistance. The premise of this conversation will be: what can historians as scholars and teachers learn from legal advocates, social workers, and community organizers working with immigrant communities in everyday practice, and what relevant information can scholars provide from their analysis of the past to activists and advocates working in the field? This roundtable will take serious the idea that historians have an obligation to provide a “useable past” that can be applied to debates and actions concerning policy and the enforcement of laws, and that historians learn from engaging with community-based organizations.

The roundtable conversation will be moderated to focus on the latest developments in immigration policies and enforcement actions as of January 2018. This includes a discussion of where things stand relating to: the status of the Obama Administration’s DACA program and of “dreamers”; ICE-enforcement practices and the use of detention facilities and deportation measures against immigrants; policies relating to guestworker visas; changes to refugee and asylum policies; and, travel bans.

The open-ended roundtable format will also allow for a discussion of Trump-era immigration policies in broader terms. In line with the conference theme of “Race, Ethnicity, and Nationalism in Global Perspective,” participants will be asked to comment on what the resurgence of xenophobic policies and posturing means in respect to our understanding of American nationalism and how it plays out in communities, classrooms, and other spaces. Immigration is an inherently global and transnational subject, and the roundtable will emphasize this point as well. Participants will be asked to discuss how deportations, the issuance of visas, and asylum policies represent matters of foreign relations between nations, and to comment on how immigration must be viewed through a more global lens that acknowledges immigrants as actors governed by multiple nation-states and immersed in multiple cultures, economies, and societies. The roundtable will include ample time for audience questions and participation.

This roundtable is being organized and co-moderated by Chantel Rodríguez (University of Maryland) and Andy Urban (Rutgers University). Rodríguez and Urban are co-editing a special issue of the Journal of American Ethnic History (JAEH) titled “Immigration Control and Resistance: Historicizing the Present Moment,” and scheduled for publication in the spring of 2019. Rodríguez and Urban will excerpt, edit, and update where necessary a transcript of the January 2018 roundtable, to include in the issue as a forum. They would gratefully acknowledge the AHA’s sponsorship in providing a place and platform where this conversation can occur. Having this roundtable, when immigration policies seemed poised to undergo substantial changes, creates for teachers and scholars an important and relevant snapshot of the issues and concerns at stake in the present moment.

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