A political scientist explains how the American immigration system ran off the rails -- and proposes a bold plan for reform
Under the Trump administration, US immigration agencies terrorize the undocumented, target people who are here legally, and even threaten the constitutional rights of American citizens. How did we get to this point?
In Illegal, Elizabeth F. Cohen reveals that our current crisis has roots in early twentieth century white nationalist politics, which began to reemerge in the 1980s. Since then, ICE and CBP have acquired bigger budgets and more power than any other law enforcement agency. Now, Trump has unleashed them. If we want to reverse the rising tide of abuse, Cohen argues that we must act quickly to rein in the powers of the current immigration regime and revive saner approaches based on existing law. Going beyond the headlines, Illegal makes clear that if we don't act now all of us, citizen and not, are at risk.
"A concise but
unflinching look at the barbaric state of immigration in America...The author is
a sharp examiner of the relevant data and research, and she is shrewd enough
not to drown in the political quicksand surrounding immigration. However, she
doesn't shy away from controversy, exploring the dangers of white nationalism and
taking into account the pragmatic reasons to formulate a fair immigration
policy that doesn't prostrate itself before communal fear...An even-keeled
"Cohen draws on a
wealth of historical evidence to present her dire portrait of America's
immigration system, and her commonsense solutions feel both necessary and
attainable...[A] trenchant call to action."
"A timely and unsparing account of how our immigration enforcement
regime has 'gone off the rails'. Cohen shows that we had a system we could have
built upon that was far less brutal to immigrants and more representative of
democratic values. But instead, for political reasons as diverse as 9/11 and
the steady beat of xenophobia, we abandoned it. Is there a way forward? In a
clear and compelling statement Cohen shows us that our democracy is in danger,
what must change, and how to make change happen. An urgent and powerful book."
—Janelle Wong, University of Maryland, CollegePark
"A fascinating dive into our country's lawless immigration enforcement
regime and how it developed."
—Alex Nowrasteh, the Cato Institute