The danger of deportation hangs over the head of virtually every noncitizen in the United States. In the complexities and inconsistencies of immigration law, one can find a reason to deport almost any noncitizen 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.
Daniel Kanstroom is Professor of Law, Thomas F. Carney Distinguished Scholar, and Director of the International Human Rights Program, Boston College, and an Associate Director of the Boston College Center for Human Rights and International Justice.