Citizenship Talk: Bridging the Gap between Race and Immigration Perspectives
27 Pages Posted: 27 Nov 2006
Recently, two branches of legal scholarship have generated particularly illuminating insights through analyses of citizenship-related issues: scholars of Critical Race Theory (CRT), with their focus on the failure of the United States to fulfill the promises of full equality made to its citizens of color, and mainstream immigration legal theorists, with their exploration of the shifting parameters of national citizenship in the context of globalization and massive migration. Oddly, however, these inquiries have largely proceeded separately, with very little overlap. This Article probes the complementary forms of taken-for-grantedness that exist on the part of CRT scholars and mainstream immigration scholars where matters of citizenship are concerned. In CRT, while race has been thoroughly deconstructed and interrogated, the notion of citizenship has rarely been examined with a critical eye. Meanwhile, in mainstream immigration legal scholarship, citizenship is subject to rigorous interrogation, but the concept of race is rarely raised and its social construction is infrequently challenged. The authors, an immigration scholar and a Critical Race scholar, argue that discussions of citizenship in legal theory will be far richer when these branches of inquiry are integrated. This brief Article maps the important citizenship-related contributions of the CRT and immigration fields; offers preliminary explanations for why they have often proceeded on separate tracks; and draws on recent events such as Hurricane Katrina and the immigrant marches of 2006 to emphasize that the workings of citizenship in contemporary American society cannot be fully understood unless race and immigration lenses are used together. Finally, the Article outlines a future collaborative project that bridges the gap by addressing issues of race, ethnicity, and immigration in the context of work and citizenship.
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