Course - Law


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This course offers an overview of current topics in immigration policy.  Drawing on the fields of law, history, political philosophy, and social science research, the course aims to provide students with a well-informed understanding of the immigration policies that are currently the subject of intense debate, both in Congress and the country at large.  We will spend the first three weeks gaining background on the legal landscape in which immigration policies must be created, considering the major doctrinal principles and precedent that shape immigration legislation.  The remainder of the course will then focus on specific policies (a preliminary list of topics is provided below, although some topics may change). 

In discussing policy debates, we will consider a broad range of perspectives, reading scholarship, research, and judicial opinions that capture views across the political spectrum.  We will also ground our discussion in present day realities, by inviting in guest speakers and focusing on case studies of immigration policies that directly impact Tucson and its surroundings.  At the same time, we will also broaden our discussion to encompass historical and geographic experiences beyond our immediate surroundings.  We will repeatedly question the extent to which the immigration debates in Arizona are unique versus representative of the national picture.   

Immigration law is not a prerequisite for this course.  Those who have taken immigration law should find that the material will not overlap substantially, but many of the issues in the class are outgrowths of basic topics covered in immigration law. 


1.      Regulating Borders and Migration: Questions of Law, Politics, and Morality

2.      Doctrinal Context: National Sovereignty and Immigrants’ Rights

3.      Federalism: State Authority, Federal Law, and Preemption


Specific Policy Issues

4.      Racial profiling: SB 1070 and its Aftermath

5.      Employment: Guestworkers, E-Verify, and the Legal Arizona Workers Act

6.      Crime and Migration: Case Study of Operation Streamline

7.      Detention: Current Conditions and Alternatives

8.      Gender: Regulating Domestic Violence and Sexuality at the Border

9.      Youth: DACA, the DREAM Act, and the Role of Youth in the Immigrant Rights’ Movement


Systemic Policy Questions

10.  Adjudication systems: Immigration Courts, Administrative Agencies, and Possibilities for Reform

11.  The Role of Lawyers in Policy Reform

12.  Amnesty: Legalizing the Undocumented – Lessons from the Past, Considerations for the Future

Final wrap up


 There will be no textbook; all course materials will be distributed weekly on D2L.

Course Format  
Written Assignments

 Four response papers.

Type of Exam


Basis for grading

 Students enrolled in the course for substantial paper credit will receive 3 units of credit.  Grades will be based on participation (12.5%), response papers (12.5%) and a substantial paper (75%). 

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