Politics & Polls #229: Can Immigrants Still Chase the American Dream? (Sarah Coleman)

Apr 22 2021
By B. Rose Huber & Sarah Binder
Topics Politics
Source Princeton School of Public and International Affairs

Given today's anti-immigrant, nativist sentiments, is the American Dream even still possible for immigrants to the U.S.? For decades, the politics behind immigration control have undermined the idea of citizenship for all, making this a hard question to answer.

In a new book, historian Sarah Coleman reveals the roots behind today's immigration policies. She shows how immigration politics was not just about building or tearing down walls, but about employer sanctions, access to schools, welfare, and the role of local authorities in implementing policies. She discusses this and more in this episode with Julian Zelizer, her mentor when she was a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton, and Sam Wang.

Coleman is assistant professor of history at Texas State University. Her book, "The Walls Within: The Politics of Immigration in Modern America," was published by the Princeton University Press.

Julian Zelizer

Zelizer has been among the pioneers in the revival of American political history. He is the Malcolm Stevenson Forbes, Class of 1941 Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University and a CNN Political Analyst and a regular guest on NPR’s “Here and Now.” He is the author and editor of 21 books including, “The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society (2015), the winner of the D.B. Hardeman Prize for the Best Book on Congress and Fault Lines: A History of the United States Since 1974 (Norton), co-authored with Kevin Kruse. His new book is Burning Down the House: Newt Gingrich, The Fall of a Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party (Penguin Press). The New York Times named the book as an Editor's Choice and one of the 100 Notable Books in 2020. He is currently writing a new book about Abraham Joshua Heschel for the Jewish Lives Series of Yale University Press. Zelizer, who has published over 1000 op-eds, has received fellowships from the Brookings Institution, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, the New York Historical Society, and New America. He also co-hosts a popular podcast called Politics & Polls.

Sam Wang

Wang is a professor of neuroscience at Princeton University and director of the Electoral Innovation Lab. In his neuroscience research, he studies learning and development with an emphasis on data-intensive methods. His electoral work includes the Princeton Election Consortium, a pioneering poll aggregation effort; the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, which works toward fair districting policy in all 50 states; and the Electoral Innovation Lab, which applies data and math to reforms for voting and democracy. Wang also is an affiliate of the Program in Law and Public Affairs, the Center for Information Technology Policy, and the Program in Quantitative and Computational Biology. He has won national awards for his neuroscience and gerrymandering work including an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, the W.M. Keck Foundation Young Investigator Award, and the Common Cause Award for Partisan Gerrymandering Writing. His books “Welcome to Your Brain” and “Welcome to Your Child’s Brain” have been translated into over 20 languages.

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