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The Walls Within: The Politics of Immigration in Modern America

February 7, 2022 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm


Join us as historian Sarah Coleman recounts the numerous battles over US immigrants’ rights since 1965―and how these conflicts reshaped access to education, employment, civil liberties, and more.

The 1965 Hart-Celler Act transformed the American immigration system by abolishing national quotas in favor of a seemingly egalitarian approach. But subsequent demographic shifts resulted in a backlash over the social contract and the rights of citizens versus noncitizens. In The Walls Within: The Politics of Immigration in Modern America, Sarah Coleman explores those political clashes, focusing not on attempts to stop immigration at the border, but on efforts to limit immigrants’ rights within the United States through domestic policy. Drawing on new materials from the Carter, Reagan, and Clinton administrations, and immigration and civil rights organizations, Coleman exposes how the politics of immigration control has undermined the idea of citizenship for all. Revealing the roots behind much of today’s nativist sentiment, The Walls Within examines debates about who is entitled to the American dream, and how such dreams can be subverted for those already calling the country home.

SARAH COLEMAN is assistant professor of history at Texas State University and a former CPH postdoc.

This event is currently intended to be held in-person at McCord Auditorium, Dallas Hall. However, this may be subject to change as the COVID-19 crisis continues. Any updates will be announced here and across CPH’s social media.




Further Reading

Here, you’ll find more resources to feed your interest in the topics covered at this event.

Primary Resources

Plyler v. Doe. (n.d.). Oyez. Retrieved February 6, 2022, from https://www.oyez.org/cases/1981/80-1538 

Secondary Resources

Frazee, G. (2018). What constitutional rights do undocumented immigrants have? PBS News.  https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/what-constitutional-rights-do-undocumented-immigrants-have 

Gomez, A. (2015). Report: More than half of immigrants on welfare. CNBC News. https://www.cnbc.com/2015/09/02/report-more-than-half-of-immigrants-on-welfare.html

Goodman, C. (2016). Four tips to better frame immigration messages. American Friends Service Committee. https://www.afsc.org/blogs/media-uncovered/four-tips-to-better-frame-immigration-messages  

Haynes, C., Merolla, J., and Ramakrishnan, S. (2019). Framing Immigrants: News Coverage, Public Opinion, and Policy. Russell Sage Foundation.  https://www.russellsage.org/publications/framing-immigrants 

Johnson, M. (2015). Growth of the Social Security Earnings Suspense File Points to the Rising Potential Cost of Unauthorized Work To Social Security. The Senior Citizens’ League https://seniorsleague.org/growth-of-the-social-security-earnings-suspense-file-points-to-the-rising-potential-cost-of-unauthorized-work-to-social-security-2/ 

Lind, D. (2018). Birthright citizenship, explained. Vox.  https://www.vox.com/2018/7/23/17595754/birthright-citizenship-trump-14th-amendment-executive-order 

Varsanyi, M, et al. (2012). Immigration federalism: Which policy prevails? Migration Policy Institute. https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/immigration-federalism-which-policy-prevails 

More from Dr. Coleman

Coleman, S. (2016). Redefining American: The Shifting Politics of Immigration Policy at the End of the Twentieth Century. Princeton University Press. http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/dsp0147429c61w


February 7, 2022
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm


Dallas Hall 306 (McCord Auditorium)
3225 University Blvd
Dallas, TX 75205 United States
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