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You are not American : citizenship stripping from Dred Scott to the Dreamers
2021
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Publishers Weekly Reviews

American University law professor Frost debuts with an impressively researched survey of the U.S. government revoking, or failing to recognize, the citizenship of native-born and naturalized citizens. "Citizenship stripping," Frost writes, "embodies the view that society can cast out its unwanted and use that process to redefine itself and all those allowed to remain." She contends that millions of people—including American women who married noncitizens, and Japanese Americans interned during WWII—have been denied their citizenship rights over the past two centuries, and delves into the legal and political issues behind those rulings. She points out that the 1857 Supreme Court decision denying citizenship to African Americans began as a case over whether Dred Scott's family were slaves or free; reveals how the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act threatened birthright citizenship as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment; and explains how an Obama administration effort to correct a technical error in the government's immigration database has become a "mass denaturalization campaign" during the Trump presidency. Frost enlivens her case histories with vivid sketches of key litigants, and makes a convincing case that citizenship stripping has "serv as a proxy for overt discrimination" based on race and ethnicity. This troubling investigation of American exclusionism hits the mark. (Jan.)

Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly.

Annotations

"Frost explores how the United States' concept of citizenship and the rights of citizens has evolved, and especially how it has been challenged"-- - (Baker & Taylor)

Examines the hidden history of discrimination and xenophobia that threatens citizenship, even for those born on U.S. soil, from the notorious Supreme Court Dred Scott decision to the Trump administration’s investigations of 700,000 naturalized citizens. - (Baker & Taylor)

Shortlisted for the Mark Lynton History Prize

Citizenship is invaluable, yet our status as citizens is always at risk—even for those born on US soil.


Over the last two centuries, the US government has revoked citizenship to cast out its unwanted, suppress dissent, and deny civil rights to all considered “un-American”—whether due to their race, ethnicity, marriage partner, or beliefs. Drawing on the narratives of those who have struggled to be treated as full members of “We the People,” law professor Amanda Frost exposes a hidden history of discrimination and xenophobia that continues to this day.

The Supreme Court’s rejection of Black citizenship in Dred Scott was among the first and most notorious examples of citizenship stripping, but the phenomenon did not end there. Women who married noncitizens, persecuted racial groups, labor leaders, and political activists were all denied their citizenship, and sometimes deported, by a government that wanted to redefine the meaning of “American.” Today, US citizens living near the southern border are regularly denied passports, thousands are detained and deported by mistake, and the Trump administration is investigating the citizenship of 700,000 naturalized citizens. Even elected leaders such as Barack Obama and Kamala Harris are not immune from false claims that they are not citizens eligible to hold office.

You Are Not American grapples with what it means to be American and the issues surrounding membership, identity, belonging, and exclusion that still occupy and divide the nation in the twenty-first century. - (Random House, Inc.)

Citizenship is invaluable, yet our status as citizens is always at risk—even for those born on US soil.

Over the last two centuries, the US government has revoked citizenship to cast out its unwanted, suppress dissent, and deny civil rights to all considered “un-American”—whether due to their race, ethnicity, marriage partner, or beliefs. Drawing on the narratives of those who have struggled to be treated as full members of “We the People,” law professor Amanda Frost exposes a hidden history of discrimination and xenophobia that continues to this day.

The Supreme Court’s rejection of Black citizenship in Dred Scott was among the first and most notorious examples of citizenship stripping, but the phenomenon did not end there. Women who married noncitizens, persecuted racial groups, labor leaders, and political activists were all denied their citizenship, and sometimes deported, by a government that wanted to redefine the meaning of “American.” Today, US citizens living near the southern border are regularly denied passports, thousands are detained and deported by mistake, and the Trump administration is investigating the citizenship of 700,000 naturalized citizens. Even elected leaders such as Barack Obama and Kamala Harris are not immune from false claims that they are not citizens eligible to hold office.

You Are Not American grapples with what it means to be American and the issues surrounding membership, identity, belonging, and exclusion that still occupy and divide the nation in the twenty-first century. - (Random House, Inc.)

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