Sawyer Seminar Lecture: Rethinking the American Immigration Narrative

By Humanities Center

Thursday, November 4, 2021 5:00pm

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Former UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees T. Alex Aleinikoff will be talking about immigration and asylum policies today.

The idea of the United States as a “nation of immigrants” is the dominant narrative of the peopling of America--taught in US history and civics classes and iconically represented by the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. But other narratives tell a different story about the facts and meaning of US immigration history. These range from stories of exclusion and discrimination to justifications for limiting immigration in pursuit of national self-definition. While no single narrative can capture the complexity of US immigration, perhaps it is time to introduce a new perspective—one that centers on mobility in the American story.

Aleinikoff is a professor at the New School for Social Research. He has served as Director of the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility since January 2017. He received a J.D. from the Yale Law School and a B.A. from Swarthmore College.

Alex has written widely in immigration and refugee law and policy, transnational law, citizenship, race, and constitutional law. He is currently working on a book tentatively titled, The Arc of Protection: Reforming the International Refugee Regime. His book Semblances of Sovereignty: The Constitution, the State, and American Citizenship was published by Harvard University Press in 2002. Alex is a co-author of leading legal casebooks on immigration law and forced migration.

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