Fall 2017 - 60645 - PA 325 – Topics in Policy | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin

Fall 2017 - 60645 - PA 325 – Topics in Policy

PA 325 Introduction to Public Policy: Race, Immigration & Citizenship

DRAFT, 4/3/17


Time:                     Tuesdays,  2:00 – 5:00 pm

Place:                    SRH 3.212/221

Professor:              Edwin Dorn

Office Hours:         Tuesdays,  10:00 – 12:00 am and by appointment, SRH 3.265. 

Contact:                 512-232-4007 or eddorn@utexas.edu

Assistant:              Elizabeth Wesley Fransella, wfransella@austin.utexas.edu.


This course has two goals: to introduce students to the field of public policy, and to offer a new way of thinking about some contentious policy issues. To accomplish the former, several class sessions will focus on the key components of policymaking, such as issue definition and the roles that individuals and institutions play in the shaping of public policy.

The latter goal will be achieved by exploring how this country has dealt with race, immigration and citizenship. These issues usually are treated as separate domains of scholarship, political activism and policy. In this course, we will consider how the topics are related. For example:

  • The U.S. Constitution explicitly excluded one group, American Indians, from citizenship. 
  • The Naturalization Act of 1790 restricted naturalized citizenship to “free white persons.”
  • The key finding in Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857) was that no one of African descent, whether slave or free, was a citizen of the United States.
  • Starting in the late 19th century, a series of laws shut down the immigration of Asians into the United States.

Restrictions on citizenship and immigration made the United States “a nation by design,” in the words of one scholar. Combine those restrictions with slavery and Jim Crow laws, and we begin to understand why many people came to regard the United States as “a white man’s country.”

Policies governing race, immigration, and citizenship have changed dramatically in the past half-century. The 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act reduced the social isolation of African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans, and increased their political influence. The 1965 Immigration Reform Act, combined with a 1952 law that ended the “whites-only” naturalization policy, led to a dramatic increase in immigration from Asia. The resulting demographic changes have shifted our national palette from black-and-white to color. Those changes also have produced feelings of anxiety and anger among those who would have preferred a continuation of the centuries-old pattern of white privilege. Demographic changes affected the tenor of the 2016 election and the policies of the new presidential administration. 


  1. Original Intent. When, how and why did race become such an important feature of American society? Readings include The Constitution and selections from The Federalist Papers.
  2. The Racialization of America. How were laws and lawsuits used to determine who fit into which racial category and thus to determine rights and citizenship? Readings include Gillmer’s article “Suing for Freedom” and the Dred Scott decision.
  3. Emancipation, Separate-But-Equal and the Dawn of Protest. How did the Civil War Amendments answer the Dred Scott decision? What did Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois disagree about? Readings include Yick Wo. v. Hopkins, Plessy v. Ferguson, Washington’s Atlanta Exposition speech, and selections from The Souls of Black Folk.
  4. The Exclusion of Non-whites. How have immigration and naturalization laws affected the racial composition of the country? How has the implementation of those laws helped to expose the fallacy of race? Readings include selected chapters in Lopez’s White By Law, Ngai’s Impossible Subjects and the Supreme Court’s Wong Kim Ark, Ozawa and Thind decisions.
  5. The Civil Rights Movement. Which branch of government proved to be most reliable in the advancement of civil rights? Why did the civil rights struggle move from the courts to the streets? Readings include several Supreme Court cases, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and sections from Taylor Branch’s Parting the Waters.
  6. The New Policy Regime. What did people expect to happen as a result of the new civil rights laws? How effectively did the new policies address discrimination in education, housing and other areas? Why, with so much apparent progress, was there so much frustration? What was the relationship between the Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Immigration Reform Act? Readings include the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and President Johnson’s 1965 Howard University speech.
  7. Comparisons. How do the experiences of black Americans compare with those of other groups – with the internment of Japanese-Americans, for example, and with the “Caucasian cloak” that concealed discrimination against Mexican Americans? How do American race, immigration and citizenship policies compare with those in other countries? Readings include Telles’ Race in Another America.
  8. Outcomes and Controversies. How much better off are African-Americans today than they were before the passage of the civil rights acts? How did affirmative action become such an important part of the policy debate? Readings include Ed Dorn’s slides on trends in black/white income disparities in the post-CRA era.
  9. 2016. How do race, immigration, and citizenship emerge as issues in the 2016 presidential election? 
  10. Forecasts and Policy Options. Where do we go from here? What are the alternative policy paths? What do past experiences tell us about current controversies over immigration and assimilation? Readings include Hochschild’s Creating A New Racial Order.

Requirements and Expectations

  • Two-page paper (10%)
  • Class participation  (10%)
  • Mid-term examination (30%)
  • Briefing memos (2) (20%)
  • Final examination (30%)


Taylor Branch, Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988).

W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk (any edition).

Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, The Federalist Papers (any edition).

Ian Haney Lopez, White by Law: The Legal Construction of Race, (New York: New York University Press, 2006).

Jennifer Hochschild, Vesla Weaver, and Traci Burch, Creating A New Racial Order, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012)

Madeline Hsu, The Good Immigrants: How The Yellow Peril Became Model Immigrants (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015)

Edward Telles, Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004).


SRH 3.212/3.221
Final Exam Date: 
Thursday, Dec 14, 2017
Final Exam Location: 
SRH 3.221/212