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Teach-In Schedule

Monday, March 9, 2020

Paul F. Sharp Concert Hall, Catlett Music Center

This session will examine the origins of modern immigration policy in the Progressive Era of the early 20th century, in which social scientists – both men and women - conceptualized immigration as a policy “problem” that only the federal government could fix. These experts developed the first numerical restrictions on immigration, which became the quota regime that still governs policy today. The talk concludes by looking at the roots of today’s government power and abuses in that era.

Paul F. Sharp Concert Hall, Catlett Music Center

Where once the United States rarely imprisoned people for violating immigration law, today the country runs the largest immigration prison system in the world. In Migrating to Prison: America’s Obsession with Locking Up Immigrants, César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández takes a hard look at immigration prisons. Political opportunism and profit have shaped government policy at an enormous cost to human life and the legal system. For those reasons, Migrating to Prison urgently calls for the abolition of immigration prisons.

Sandy Bell Gallery, Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art

Guests will have the opportunity to visit with speakers and enjoy a grab-and-go lunch. No formal remarks will be presented.

Paul F. Sharp Concert Hall, Catlett Music Center

The most important aspect of the immigration debate is what to do about the estimated 11 million people in the United States who are undocumented.  Unfortunately, the debate is rendered with caricatures: people on the left want open borders; people on the right want to deport immigrants and close off the United States; undocumented immigrants are ruining communities. Those portraits do not match reality. This session will show not only why legalization of the undocumented population, under certain conditions, is good for America and why that is the solution most Americans want.

Paul F. Sharp Concert Hall, Catlett Music Center

Epidemics of nativism are perennial challenges for the United States as a nation of nations. Today’s nativist backlash against immigrants and refugees from Latin America and Asia are not unique, but echo charges of an earlier era that newcomers from China or Southern and Eastern Europe were either unfit or unwilling to assimilate into American society. Between 1880 and the 1920s, 23.5 million newcomers arrived to a mixed welcome. While some Americans, including President Theodore Roosevelt, offered a provisional greeting conditioned upon the willingness of immigrants to assimilate, others argued that an inherent inferiority prohibited the Chinaman, Southern Italian or Eastern European Jew from entering the American mainstream. Such arguments fueled enthusiasm for the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and, later, the comprehensive Johnson-Reed Act of 1924 featuring a highly restrictive national origins quota system.  The arguments of 20th-century nativists have resurfaced as Americans ponder policy change in the 21st century.

Paul F. Sharp Concert Hall, Catlett Music Center

In the mid-19th century, Americans seeking opportunity in the West endured the crossing of the deserts of the Great Basin and the Southwest; in the 20th and 21st centuries, Mexicans seeking opportunity in el norte have endured the crossing of the deserts on either side of the U.S./Mexican border. A comparison of these desert crossings reminds us that the misery of the intense thirst extends across nationalities and cultures, and invites deeper thinking about the categories of “settler” and “immigrant.”  In the late 20th century, the biological concept of “carrying capacity” has been mobilized to support the claim that the American population has reached its limits and thus immigration restrictions have become a scientific necessity. But a concept designed to understand the concentration and distribution of plants and animals strains to encompass human behavior. Historians have criticized oppressive programs of assimilation; however, assimilation – especially in the acquisition of the English language, has also opened doors to economic, educational and political opportunity. Replacing coercion with invitation, assimilation can offer a heartening sense of promise and possibility.

Paul F. Sharp Concert Hall, Catlett Music Center

All presenters will join in a panel discussion, moderated by Patty Limerick.