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Remaking America: The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 and Its Impact

Prince George's Room, Stamp Student Union
Thursday, November 12, 2015 - 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM

On November 12, 2015, the Center for the History of the New America at the University of Maryland will host a one-day conference marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Immigration and National Act of 1965 (also known as the Hart-Celler Act). The conference will explore the policy implications of the revised immigration framework created by the Act and the impact of the Act on communities in the United States and abroad.

The Hart-Celler Act abolished the national origins quota system that had structured American immigration policy since the 1920s, replacing it with a system that opened the doors for the migration of African, Asian, Caribbean, and Latin American peoples. At present some 40 million (nearly 13 percent of the American people) are immigrants. Today’s immigrants arrive from around the world and are incredibly diverse in terms of racial, cultural, and religious identity. This conference will consider the legacy of the Act and the ways that new immigrant populations have profoundly influenced American culture and society.

Erika Lee, Director of the Immigration History Research Center and the Rudolph J. Vecoli Chair in Immigration History at the University of Minnesota, will deliver a keynote address.

This event is co-sponsored bythe Department of History, Department of Anthropology, Department of American Studies, Maryland Population Research Center, the Asian American Studies Program, and MLAW.


Thursday, November 12

8:30 am

9:00 am
Welcome and Introductory Remarks

9:30 am
Session One: Immigrants and Migrants in the New America
Christina Getrich (University of Maryland, College Park)
Jennifer Bickham Mendez (College of William and Mary)
Christina M. Greer (Fordham University)
Sam Vong (University of Texas at Austin)

11:30 am
Keynote Address by Erika Lee, (University of Minnesota)
"Immigrant America at the Crossroads: Fifty Years after the 1965 Immigration Act"

1:00 pm

2:30 pm
Session 2: The Hart-Celler Act and Its Legacy
Chair: Ruth Wasem (Library of Congress)
Nancy Foner (Hunter College)
Rogers Smith (University of Pennsylvania)
Jan Padios (University of Maryland, College Park)

Speaker Bios
(in alphabetical order)

Jennifer Bickham Mendez is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the College of William and Mary. Her research explores ways in which everyday people engage with economic and political globalization and how gender shapes experiences of work, political organizing, and transnational migration. Professor Mendez’s current research examines recent transnational migration to Williamsburg, VA, the barriers that migrants face in gaining full social membership, and the ways in which the larger community has responded to the arrival of these newcomers. Mendez has published articles in such journals as Social Problems, Mobilization, Labor Studies Journal, and Gender and Society. Her book, From the Revolution to the Maquiladoras: Gender, Labor and Globalization in Nicaragua, received the 2008 Annual Book Award from the Political Economy of the World System Section of the American Sociological Association as well as an honorable mention from the Global Division of the Society for the Study of Social Problems.
Nancy Foner is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. She is particularly interested in the comparative study of immigration – comparing immigration today with earlier periods in the United States, the immigrant experience in various American gateway cities, and immigrants in the United States and Europe. Nancy Foner is the author or editor of eighteen books, including From Ellis Island to JFK: New York’s Two Great Waves of Immigration, winner of the 2000 Theodore Saloutos Award of the Immigration and Ethnic History Society and In a New Land: A Comparative View of Immigration, a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2006. Her most recent books are Strangers No More: Immigration and the Challenges of Integration in North America and Western Europe, written with Richard Alba, and Fear, Anxiety, and National Identity: Immigration and Belonging in North America and Western Europe, edited with Patrick Simon.
Christina Getrich is Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Maryland. She is a critical medical anthropologist whose most recent research addresses health disparities among Latino populations in the U.S. Southwest. First as a postdoctoral fellow and then as a research scientist in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of New Mexico, Getrich was a qualitative researcher on multidisciplinary teams conducting projects on cancer prevention and screening, behavioral health, and primary care health service delivery. Her research underscores the need to understand intra-ethnic variability in health care access and utilization. Professor Getrich is a scholar of migration more broadly, with a second research trajectory focused on immigration and citizenship. Supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the American Association of University Women, her dissertation examined how second-generation Mexican teenagers in San Diego forge their identity and sense of social belonging in an increasingly anti-immigrant U.S. society.
Christina M. Greer is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Fordham University - Lincoln Center (Manhattan) campus. Her research and teaching focus on American politics, black ethnic politics, urban politics, quantitative methods, Congress, New York City and New York State politics, campaigns and elections, and public opinion. Greer's book Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream (Oxford University Press) investigates the increasingly ethnically diverse black populations in the US from Africa and the Caribbean. She finds that both ethnicity and a shared racial identity matter and also affect the policy choices and preferences for black groups. Professor Greer is currently writing her second manuscript and conducting research on the history of all African Americans who have run for the executive office in the U.S. Her research interests also include mayors and public policy in urban centers. Her previous work has compared criminal activity and political responses in Boston and Baltimore.
Erika Lee is an award-winning American historian, Director of the Immigration History Research Center, and the Rudolph J. Vecoli Chair in Immigration History at the University of Minnesota. Her scholarly specialties include migration, race and ethnicity; Asian Americans; transnational U.S. history; and immigration law and public policy. Her new book, The Making of Asian America: A History will be published by Simon & Schuster in September, 2015. She is also the author or co-author of the award-winning books Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America, co-written with Judy Yung and At America’s Gates: Chinese Immigration During the Exclusion Era, 1882-1943, as well as many articles on immigration law and Asian American immigration. She has been awarded numerous national and university fellowships and awards for her research, teaching, and leadership.
Jan Padios is an Assistant Professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park, and is currently working on her first book, an interdisciplinary study of customer service call center workers in the Philippines. Her research combines critical cultural studies and political economy with emphasis on transnationalism, labor, neoliberal globalization, media and communication, cultures of consumption, and U.S. empire. She engages in interdisciplinary methodology – with a focus on ethnography – and uses frameworks from the interpretive social sciences and the humanities to document how global conditions shape social and cultural life, both in the U.S. and the Philippines. Padios is the recipient of numerous fellowships, including the NYU Torch Fellowship and a Mellon Dissertation Writing Fellowship in the Humanities.
Rogers Smith is the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Associate Dean for Social Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. Professor Smith centers his research on constitutional law, American political thought, and modern legal and political theory, with special interests in questions of citizenship, race, ethnicity and gender. He was elected as an American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow in 2004. His most recent book is titled Political Peoplehood: The Roles of Values, Interests, and Identities, published by the University of Chicago Press.
Sam Vong is Assistant Professor in the Department of History at The University of Texas at Austin. His research examines the history of refugees and migrants from Southeast Asia during the Cold War. Currently, he is working on a book project which examines the migration and resettlement of refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos to the United States, Argentina, and other parts of the world. In addition to examining the experiences of displacement and refuge, his research maps the transnational politics of compassion and humanitarianism through the movements of refugees and non-governmental organizations. He earned his Ph.D. in History at Yale University in 2013.
Ruth Wasem is a specialist at the Domestic Social Policy Division at the Congressional Research Service, U.S. Library of Congress. In that capacity, she has researched, written, and led seminars on immigration and social welfare policies. Congressional committees and offices have released many of her reports, which are widely cited. She has testified before the U.S. Congress most recently on asylum policy and trends, on human rights protections in immigration law, and on the push-pull forces on unauthorized migration. Her recent publications include Tackling Unemployment: The Legislative Dynamics of the Employment Act of 1946 and “Welfare and Public Benefits” in American Immigration: An Encyclopedia of Political, Social, and Cultural Change, 2nd Edition. Wasem’s current research projects are: "Middle Class Rising," an analysis of the federal policies aimed at encouraging prosperity during the three decades after World War II; and "Whom We Shall Welcome," a history of the legislative drive to end race- and nationality-based immigration resulting in the Immigration Act of 1965.