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

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Although America is unquestionably a nation of immigrants, its immigration policies have inspired more questions than consensus on who should be admitted and what the path to citizenship should be. In Americans in Waiting, Hiroshi Motomura looks to a forgotten part of our past to show how, for over 150 years, immigration was assumed to be a transition to citizenship, with immigrants essentially being treated as future citizens—Americans in waiting. Challenging current conceptions, the author deftly uncovers how this view, once so central to law and policy, has all but vanished. Motomura explains how America could create a more unified society by recovering this lost history and by giving immigrants more, but at the same time asking more of them. A timely, panoramic chronicle of immigration and citizenship in the United States, Americans in Waiting offers new ideas and a fresh perspective on current debates.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An impressive overview of American immigration and citizenship law over the past 200 years."—Najia Aarim-Heriot, American Historical Review

"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 provides an essential resource for those steeped in immigration law and history, as well as a revelatory read for anyone interested in how Americans can remain true to our historical willingness, as a nation of immigrants, to incorporate newcomers humanely and fairly."—Cristina Rodriguez, Michigan Law Review

"A unique, original and insightful analysis of policies regarding 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

"Motomura elegantly weaves together the history and modern developments of immigration law and American conceptions of immigrants, making complex topics much more understandable. 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

"With comprehensive historical sweep and theoretical insight, Americans in Waiting masterfully charts the way to more inclusive policies that are true to the United States' 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

"Legal scholars and practitioners will find the book's attention to detail particularly useful. The author examines a strikingly wide range of immigration case law, much of which is not typically included in the corpus of social scientific literature on immigration law. ...Americans in Waiting is a valuable addition to contemporary discussions of immigration and citizenship, especially at a time when the rush to pass comprehensive immigration reform has all but crowded out reflections on the nature of American community."—The Law and Politics Book Review

"Motomura displays a great deal of legal erudition and writes with flair. Nevertheless, his analysis is accessible to those not specialized in immigration law or law in general. This important and original book is of broad interdisciplinary interest."—The International History Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195336085
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 9/17/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 478,299
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

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

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Immigrants in America
1. Contract and Classical Immigration Law
2. Promises, Promises
3. All Persons Within the Territorial Jurisdiction
4. Alienage and the Ties That Bind
5. The Most Tender Connections
6. The Lost Story of Americans in Waiting
7. Transition at a Crossroads
8. The Meaning of Transition
9. Race, Belonging, and Transition
10. Taking Transition Seriously
Conclusion: The Idea of Americans in Waiting

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