Skip to main content

30% Off New Releases: Explore the List

Harvard University Press - home
Deportation Nation

Deportation Nation

Outsiders in American History

Daniel Kanstroom

ISBN 9780674046221

Publication date: 03/15/2010

The danger of deportation hangs over the head of virtually every noncitizen in the United States. In the complexities and inconsistencies of immigration law, one can find a reason to deport almost any noncitizen at almost any time. In recent years, the system has been used with unprecedented vigor against millions of deportees.

We are a nation of immigrants--but which ones do we want, and what do we do with those that we don't? These questions have troubled American law and politics since colonial times.

Deportation Nation is a chilling history of communal self-idealization and self-protection. The post-Revolutionary Alien and Sedition Laws, the Fugitive Slave laws, the Indian "removals," the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Palmer Raids, the internment of the Japanese Americans--all sought to remove those whose origins suggested they could never become "true" Americans. And for more than a century, millions of Mexicans have conveniently served as cheap labor, crossing a border that was not official until the early twentieth century and being sent back across it when they became a burden.

By illuminating the shadowy corners of American history, Daniel Kanstroom shows that deportation has long been a legal tool to control immigrants' lives and is used with increasing crudeness in a globalized but xenophobic world.


  • Kanstroom's legal and social history of deportation reveals the development of a second system within our immigration politics, one of exclusion and expulsion, in which few if any Constitutional protections exist. Kanstroomshows the connections between the deportation of aliens and other removal practices in American history; the warning out of the poor, native-Americans removal, and fugitive slave law-- and makes a powerful and unsettling argument about the uses and abuses of today's immigration system.

    —Mae M. Ngai, Columbia University


  • Daniel Kanstroom is Professor of Law, Thomas F. Carney Distinguished Scholar, and Director of the International Human Rights Program, Boston College, and an Associate Director of the Boston College Center for Human Rights and International Justice.

Book Details

  • 352 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press