Charting a Civic Border: Immigration and Naturalization in San Diego (Working Paper #51)
Robert H. McLaughlin, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies and University of Chicago
Abstract: A civic border–comprised of government institutions, the laws that govern them and their charge to regulate immigration, and the partial and incomplete circulation of legal knowledge about immigration determines patterns of lawful immigration and naturalization among immigrants in the United States. The process of naturalization, the voluntary passage from lawful permanent residence to citizenship, sheds light on the structure of the Untied States as polity and as a nation, and reveals its terms of membership. Drawing on ethnographic and documentary research in San Diego, California, this paper argues that immigration and naturalization involve not merely border crossings over physical spaces, but also the traversing of a complex and significant civic border that delineates the citizenry of the United States.