You Are Not American: Citizenship Stripping from Dred Scott to the Dreamers

Beacon. Jan. 2021. 256p. ISBN 9780807051429. $27.95. POL SCI
From the Dred Scott decision in 1857 to the present day, what it means to be an American—and, most important, who gets to be a citizen—has been debated throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. That debate, which continues today, also influences political and cultural dynamics in the United States, especially when considering who has the power to decide questions of citizenship. Frost (law, American Univ.) thoroughly explores these issues and more in this incisive work. As Frost reminds readers, challenges to race and citizenship often overlap, and race-based citizenship and laws and practices, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and Jim Crow segregation laws, had a lasting impact on American society. Frost succinctly notes that the idea of citizenship stripping runs counter to the idea of the United States as an open democracy, yet denaturalization still continues. Illustrating cases of people were who denaturalized and deported, sometimes mistakenly, the narrative depicts how history often repeats itself. Frost’s accessible writing will draw in a variety of readers, from high school and college students to scholars looking to learn more about this complex history.
VERDICT A highly informative work that gives depth and humanity to an often-overlooked issue.
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