Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2019


This Article explores the many challenges—legal and otherwise—that child migrants face as they attempt to navigate the complex web of courts, laws, and shifting political landscapes to become naturalized United States citizens, while putting these challenges in the context of an immigration system that has long been shaped by politics of exclusion and xenophobia that have shaped immigration law and policy in the United States for over one-hundred years. Such an investigation comes at a time when the issue of immigration in the United States is increasingly complex and contested. As the Trump administration mulls over new prototypes for a wall along the U.S./Mexico border, issues travel bans targeting Muslim-majority countries, and threatens to end the Obama-era DACA program in a bid to realize the president’s campaign slogan of “America First,” advocates for a more liberal, humanitarian immigration system cite America’s legacy as the quintessential nation of immigrants to challenge the xenophobia and politics of exclusion that have recently informed the debate about immigration reform. Notwithstanding this cited legacy, the United States has a long history of the politics of exclusion shaping its immigration system. Thus, this Article attempts to provide additional context for this current—and historical—immigration debate, and argues that political expedience, Cold War ideology, racial prejudice, and politics of exclusion and xenophobia—as contrasted with principles of justice and equality—have long shaped how the United States fashions official immigration law and policy.