The Citizenship Line: Rethinking Immigration Exceptionalism

By Rosenbloom, Rachel E. | Boston College Law Review, November 2013 | Go to article overview

The Citizenship Line: Rethinking Immigration Exceptionalism


Rosenbloom, Rachel E., Boston College Law Review


Introduction

As immigration enforcement continues its stunning expansion in the United States, individuals across a range of statuses-documented and undocumented, citizen and noncitizen-are increasingly feeling its effects.1 The substantive provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA") apply only to "aliens," defined as those who are "not . . . citizen[s] or national[s] of the United States."2 It is impossible, however, to police the movement of noncitizens without first determining who is and is not a citizen. Scholars and advocates have long argued that immigration enforcement has widespread effects on U.S. citizens who are racially profiled as foreign.3 Yet scholarship is only just beginning to consider the nature of citizenship determinations and their implication for our understanding of immigration enforcement as a whole.4

This Article argues that acknowledging the presence of U.S. citizens within the immigration enforcement system calls into question some basic tenets of the U.S. Supreme Court's immigration jurisprudence. A person who claims, but has not yet established, citizenship stands on the divide not only between two divergent outcomes (the right to remain versus the potential to be deported), but also between two different conceptions of procedural justice. Case law, statutes, and regulations grant more robust due process protections to citizenship claims than to other claims that arise within the removal process.5 This distinction exemplifies a larger divide that relegates noncitizens to a constitutional netherworld with regard to immigration enforcement procedures. Yet a closer look at the experiences of U.S. citizens within this system, both past and present, reveals the elusiveness of a clear boundary between noncitizens and citizens. The relaxed procedural norms of immigration law have shown a tendency to migrate into the treatment of citizenship determinations.6 So have the racial fault lines of immigration law: known cases in which U.S. citizens have been detained and deported tend to reflect the immigration enforcement priorities of the day, with the majority of early cases involving Chinese Americans and the majority of contemporary cases involving Latinos, particularly Mexican Americans.7

Although most citizenship claims are easily documented, there remain many U.S. citizens who have a tenuous evidentiary hold on their status.8 Citizenship determinations occur in many forms, from an officer's snap judgment about whom to question to prolonged litigation before agency adjudicators and courts. In some contexts, such as passport control at an airport, a citizenship determination may be routine and unremarkable. Yet a person taken into custody in a workplace raid or upon release from the county jail may have no ready means of proving citizenship. There are many examples-stretching from the late nineteenth century to the present day-of cases in which U.S. citizens have had to wage protracted battles to prove their citizenship, or have been deported prior to being able to do so. The case law is filled with unrecorded births and birth certificates whose authenticity is questioned.9 Citizenship claims based on descent often require would-be citizens to prove not only their parents' or grandparents' places of birth, but also that the relatives spent the requisite amount of time in the United States to convey citizenship to a child.10 In some cases, valid documentation of citizenship is readily available but never enters the official record due to the summary nature of immigration proceedings, the inherently coercive effects of detention, and the lack of legal representation for detainees.11

Incidents in which U.S. citizens have been subject to deportation or prolonged detention are often characterized as mistakes or outliers.12 I argue that rather than relegating such incidents to the margins, we should recognize the extent to which they are woven into the fabric of immigration enforcement. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Citizenship Line: Rethinking Immigration Exceptionalism
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.