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Nation’s Leading Historians to Headline OU ‘Teach-In on American Immigration in Global and Historical Context’

Nation’s Leading Historians to Headline OU ‘Teach-In on American Immigration in Global and Historical Context’

February 26, 2020

Five nationally renowned historians and authors will speak at the University of Oklahoma’s 2020 Teach-In, a single-day lecture series designed to engage the broader community on civic education through history. 

This year’s Teach-In will focus on “American Immigration in Global and Historical Context” and will be held Monday, March 9, with lectures taking place in the Paul F. Sharp Concert Hall in Catlett Music Center, 500 W. Boyd St., on OU’s Norman campus. 

Since its inception in 2012, the Teach-In has attracted to OU some of the nation’s leading scholars, practitioners and commentators to discuss social and political events that have shaped America’s heritage. The daylong event is hosted by the OU Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage and is open to the public.

Reservations are required for all sessions. For reservations, more information and accommodations, visit, email or call (405) 325-1701. 

OU Teach-In at Catlett Hall

Schedule and Session Information:

9 a.m. | Opening Remarks   

9:30 a.m. | “Inventing the Immigration Problem – Immigration Policy a Century Ago and Now”

Katherine Benton-Cohen, Georgetown University

This session will examine the origins of modern immigration policy. In the early 20th century, the first numerical restrictions on immigration were developed, ultimately becoming the quota system that still governs policy today. 

10:30 a.m. | “Migrating to Prison”

César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, University of Denver College of Law

In his talk, Hernández will examine the evolution of immigration detention and the factors that have shaped government policy. 

11:30 a.m. | Networking Lunch

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. 

High school and middle school groups are invited to take an abbreviated campus tour on their way to a complimentary lunch at Couch Restaurants. Teachers: email for more information.

12:30 p.m. | “Defying Caricatures: America Needs and America Wants Legalization”

Tomás R. Jiménez, Stanford University 

At the core of the immigration debate is what to do about the estimated 11 million people in the United States who are undocumented. In this session, Jiménez will discuss the national consensus regarding legalization of the undocumented population under certain conditions.

1:30 p.m. | “Fit for America? The Perennial Fear That Immigrants Are Unassimilable”

Alan Kraut, American University

Backlash against immigrants and refugees is not unique, but echoes charges of an earlier era that newcomers were either unfit or unwilling to assimilate into American society. Kraut’s talk will touch on how some of these historical sources of tension have resurfaced today.

2:30 p.m. | “Desert Crossings, Carrying Capacities, and Assimilation: Rethinking the History of Immigration”

Patty Limerick, University of Colorado, Boulder

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, migrating Latin Americans have traversed the deserts on either side of the U.S./Mexican border. In this session, Limerick will present the commonalities of these desert crossings, while also examining some of the contemporary ideas regarding immigration.

3:30 p.m. | Panel Discussion Moderated by Patty Limerick


About the University of Oklahoma

Founded in 1890, the University of Oklahoma is a public research university located in Norman, Oklahoma. OU serves the educational, cultural, economic and health care needs of the state, region and nation. For more information visit