Immigration Law and History of the U.S. Southern Border

Summer 2014 quarter (Session I)

Taught by

law, Spanish, bilingual/ELL education

In its first words on the subject of citizenship, Congress in 1790 restricted naturalization to ‘white persons.’   [T]his racial prerequisite to citizenship endured for over a century and a half, remaining in force until 1952.   From the earliest years of this country until just a generation ago, being a "white person" was a condition for acquiring citizenship.” -- Ian Haney Lopez, White By Law , 1.

Most people do not realize that the notion of the United States as a “white” majority nation is largely a construction of law. In this course, we examine how our understanding of immigration history and law changes if we shift our view from Ellis Island in New York’s harbor to the U.S. southern border.  We’ll examine the current landscape of immigration law and policy and restrictionist and immigrant-rights movements.  We’ll critically analyze how concepts of race are embedded in immigration law and policy and how those embedded concepts drive the current debates on immigration reform. 

Students will build some basic legal skills through reading and researching important cases and laws. We’ll look at the historical context within which immigration issues relating to the southern U.S. border have arisen and continue to be defined.  We will examine current controversies about immigration, immigrant workers, labor movements, and the varied ways communities respond to the most recent immigration boom.

Major areas of study include: U.S. history, immigration history, immigration law, politics, American studies, and critical race theory. This course is preparatory for careers and future studies in history, law, labor organizing, government and politics.              

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

 This course is preparatory for careers and future studies in history, law, labor organizing, government and politics.

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Evening and Weekend

Advertised schedule: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays 5:30 pm - 8 pm


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

No Required Online Learning: No access to web tools required. Any web tools provided are optional for students.

Registration Information

Credits: 4 (Summer)

Class standing: Freshmen–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 25


Course Reference Number

First Session (4 credits): 40077

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