Yale University: The INS on the Line – A Discussion with Historian Deborah Kang

Texas, 1855, Colton

Center for the Study of Representative Institutions: “The INS on the Line: A Discussion with Historian Deborah Kang”


On October 23, 2020, the Center for the Study of Representative Institutions at Yale University, a JMC partner program, will be hosting historian Deborah Kang to speak on her book, The INS on the Line: Making Immigration Law on the US-Mexico Border, 1917-1954. Cristina Rodríguez, Anna Law, and JMC fellow Brendan Shanahan will also be participating in the discussion:

Professor Kang will introduce her book and discuss its development and scholarly interventions with three commentators. These scholars will, in turn, briefly analyze the significance of her work within the context of their own respective fields.

Professor Cristina Rodríguez (Leighton Homer Surbeck Professor of Law, Yale Law School) will provide feedback on how Professor Kang’s work transforms our understanding of American immigration law.

Professor Anna Law (Associate Professor and Herb Kurz Chair in Constitutional Rights in Political Science, CUNY-Brooklyn College) will discuss how The INS on the Line has reshaped our understanding of the political development of immigration powers within the federal government.

Finally, Brendan Shanahan (YCRI Postdoctoral Associate, History Lecturer, Yale University) will comment on how Professor Kang’s work forces U.S. immigration historians to rethink the scope and methods of their field. Following a discussion among the panelists, we will open to a wide-ranging Q&A. We encourage attendees to read the pre-circulated excerpt from Professor Kang’s book, but attendance and discussion will not be limited to those who are able to do so.

Friday, October 23, 2020 • 12:00 PM
A virtual event • Yale University

Contact ycri@yale.edu to RSVP

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Deborah Kang is an Associate Professor of History at California State University San Marcos. Her first book, The INS on the Line: Making Immigration Law on the US-Mexico Border, 1917-1954, won the Henry Adams Prize from the Society for History in the Federal Government, the Theodore Saloutos Book Award from the Immigration and Ethnic History Society, the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians Book Prize, the W. Turrentine Jackson Award from the Western History Association, and the Americo Paredes Book Award for Best Nonfiction Book on Chicano/a, Mexican American and/or Latino/a Studies. It was also recognized as a Finalist for the 2018 Weber-Clements Book Prize by the Western History Association. Her current research focuses on the relationship between law and society along the nation’s northern and southern borders and has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Huntington Library, the Clements Center for Southwest Studies, and the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies and the US Immigration Policy Center at the University of California at San Diego.

Learn more about Deborah Kang >>



Cristina Rodríguez is the Leighton Homer Surbeck Professor of Law at Yale Law School. Her research interests include constitutional law and theory; immigration law and policy; administrative law and process; language rights and policy; and citizenship theory. In recent years, her work has focused on constitutional structures and institutional design. She has used immigration law and related areas as vehicles through which to explore how the allocation of power (through federalism, the separation of powers, and the structure of the bureaucracy) shapes the management and resolution of legal and political conflict. Her work also has examined the effects of immigration on society and culture, as well as the legal and political strategies societies adopt to absorb immigrant populations. Her new book, The President and Immigration Law (Oxford University Press, September 2020), coauthored with Adam Cox, explores the long history of presidential control over immigration policy and its implications for the future of immigration law and the presidency itself.

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Anna Law is an Associate Professor of Political Science and the Herb Kurz Chair in Constitutional Rights at CUNY’s Brooklyn College. Her publications appear in both social science and law journals and investigate the interaction between law, legal institutions and politics. Her first book, The Immigration Battle in American Courts (Cambridge University Press 2010), examined the role of the federal judiciary in U.S. immigration policy, and the institutional evolution of the Supreme Court and U.S. Courts of Appeals. Law is a former program analyst at the bipartisan, blue-ribbon United States Commission on Immigration Reform. She has shared her expertise with the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Department of Homeland Security and National Science Foundation. In 2007, she appeared as a recurring narrator with other academic experts and two Supreme Court justices in the PBS award winning documentary. Her current projects include a second book on immigration federalism and slavery, and National Science Foundation funded research on gender & asylum.

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Brendan Shanahan is a Postdoctoral Associate and Lecturer of History at Yale University. He is a socio-legal historian focusing on U.S. immigration and citizenship policy in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. His manuscript project, “Making Modern American Citizenship,” explores the birth of modern U.S. citizenship in a series of late-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century disputes over the political and economic rights of American citizens vis-à-vis noncitizens (from the right to vote and be counted for the purposes of representation to the right to work and/or obtain a professional license). It interrogates federal citizenship disputes, battles between and among unions, professional associations, employer organizations, and immigrant rights advocates, and above all debates over and the administration of a growing regime of state-level “citizen only” policies. His dissertation won the 2019 “Outstanding Dissertation Award” of the Immigration and Ethnic History Society.

Dr. Shanahan is a JMC postdoctoral fellow.

Learn more about Brendan Shanahan >>



The Yale Center for the Study of Representative Institutions (YCRI) at Yale University is an interdisciplinary pilot program, established for the purpose of developing the study of the theory and practice of representative government in the Anglo-American tradition. It is hosted by the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University.

Click here to learn more about the Yale Center for the Study of Representative Institutions >>



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