Introduction To Public Policy: Race, Immigration and Citizenship
This course has two goals: to introduce students to the field of public policy, and to offer new ways of thinking about some contentious policy issues. To accomplish the first goal, several class sessions will focus on the key components of policy-making, such as the roles that individuals and institutions play in the shaping of public policy. The second goal will be achieved by exploring how this country has dealt with race, immigration, and citizenship. These 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 US Constitution explicitly excluded 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 reduced discrimination against African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans, and the 1965 Voting Rights Act increased their political influence. The 1965 Immigration Reform Act, combined with a 1952 law that ended the “whites-only” naturalization restriction, led to a dramatic increase in immigration into the US 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 have benefited from the centuries-old pattern of white privilege. Concern about the nation’s shifting color line affected the rhetoric of the 2016 presidential campaign and the policies of the Trump administration.