S. Deborah Kang (United States)

June 2015 - August 2017

S. Deborah Kang received her B.A. from the College Scholar Program at Cornell University, an M.A.  from the Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program at U.C. Berkeley, and her Ph.D. in United States History from U.C. Berkeley.  She is currently an assistant professor in the History Department at California State University, San Marcos.  Her research and publications focus on the relationship between law and society along the nation’s northern and southern borders and have been supported by research grants from the Huntington Library and the Clements Center for Southwest Studies.
The Legal Construction of the Borderlands: The INS, Immigration Law, and Immigrant Rights on the U.S.-Mexico Border (Oxford University Press, under contract) offers one of the first comprehensive accounts of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and its operations on the U.S.-Mexico border in the twentieth century.  In so doing, the manuscript challenges scholarly and popular notions that immigration law and policy were forged by Congress and the courts and dutifully implemented by southwestern immigration agents.  Instead, I argue that INS officials in the borderlands played the central role in defining contemporary immigration law and policy, immigration enforcement practices, and modern conceptions of immigrant rights.  More broadly, through a focused examination of agency operations at the local level, this book shifts the impetus for immigration policy formation from state actors in Washington, D.C. to a multinational cast of state and non-state actors in the borderlands.  By offering fresh insights into immigration law and policy formation, the institutional development of the INS and the Border Patrol, and the history of immigrant rights, this manuscript contributes to the scholarship in multiple fields, including western and borderlands history, social and immigration history, and legal and political history.