•  5:30-6:45pm
Welcome Reception
  •  7:00-9:30pm
Evening Session: Reason and Hyperbole in the Immigration Debate

The opening evening session will feature two dynamic journalists who have spent much of their careers writing about immigration for broad audiences in two iconic immigrant metropolitan areas in America—New York and Los Angeles.

Welcome Remarks: UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman

Introductory Remarks: Rubén G. Rumbaut

Moderator: Louis DeSipio


  • Lawrence Downes is an editorial writer at The New York Times, covering immigration and other subjects. He is a prolific public intellectual whose influential pieces have helped shape the national debate on immigration. Prior to joining the editorial board, Downes served as an editor on the National and Metro desks at The New York Times. He was also previously an editor at Newsday and The Chicago Sun-Times. Downes attended Fordham University in the Bronx and the University of Missouri graduate journalism school.
  • Héctor Tobar is a Los Angeles-born author of four books, including Deep Down Dark and the novel The Barbarian Nurseries, both published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux and translated into several languages. Tobar has an MFA in creative writing from the University of California Irvine. At the Los Angeles Times, he was a city reporter, columnist, and foreign correspondent, and won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the 1992 L.A. riots. He is also the author of Translation Nation: Defining a New American Identity in the Spanish-Speaking United States, and The Tattooed Soldier, a novel. The son of Guatemalan immigrants, he is currently an assistant professor at the University of Oregon.


  •  9:00-9:30am
Breakfast Reception
  •  9:30-11:30am
Morning Session: The Past is Ever Present

In announcing his executive actions last November, President Barack Obama quoted from scripture: "We were once strangers, too"-- a dictum familiar to scholars of American immigration. As the late Harvard historian Oscar Handlin wrote: "Once I thought to write a history of the immigrants in America. Then I discovered that the immigrants were American history." This panel focuses on the historical contexts surrounding contemporary immigration with a particular emphasis on the post World War II era, including the passage of the 1965 Act. Since 1900 the twists and turns of immigration policies and border surveillance have had dramatic impact on transnational families from Asia and Latin America. As an example, though overlooked in most U.S. history textbooks, the mass deportation and repatriation drives of Mexican immigrants and their U.S. born children during the early 1930s effectively removed an estimated one-third of the Mexican-origin population in the United States. This rupture would be ironically followed a few years later with the bi-national recruitment of Mexican male workers under the bracero or contract labor program. These types of legacies that marked the "worthiness" of newcomers as desirable workers and potential citizens haunt today's debates.

Welcome Remarks & Moderator: Vicki L. Ruiz


  • Erika Lee, Rudolph J. Vecoli Chair in Immigration History, Director, Immigration Research Center, University of Minnesota and author of The Making of Asian America: A History, Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America and At America’s Gates: Chinese Immigration During the Exclusion Era, 1882-1943.
  • David Scott FitzGerald, Theodore E. Gildred Chair in U.S.-Mexican Relations, Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California, San Diego and author of Culling the Masses: The Democratic Origins of Racist Immigration Policy in the Americas and A Nation of Emigrants: How Mexico Manages Its Migration.
  • Ana E. Rosas, Associate Professor, UCI and author of Abrazando el Espíritu: Bracero Families Confront the U.S-Mexico Border.
  • 11:45am
Buffet Lunch Served
Lunch Keynote
The Empire of Suffering: Further Thoughts on Mass Migration in the Age of Dystopia

Moderator: Susan Bibler Coutin

  • Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, Wasserman Dean & Distinguished Professor of Education, UCLA.

A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Professor Suárez-Orozco (formerly of NYU and Harvard) is an internationally known commentator who places contemporary U.S. immigration within a global perspective. A few of his published works include Learning in a New Land: Immigrant Studies in American Society; Latinos; Remaking America; and Writing Immigration: Scholars and Journalists in Dialogue.

Session Two: "The Future is Ever Present"
  • 1:15-3:00pm

Part One: The Great Expulsion

As we look to the future, we must consider the impact of recent law enforcement trends that have focused on expelling immigrants. These trends include militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border, new collaborations between immigration officials and the criminal justice actors at the state and local level as well as recent local and state exclusionist initiatives, and the dramatic growth of detention centers. Along with rising deportation rates, we have witnessed an expansion in the range of criminal convictions as well as the federal prosecution of immigration violations that used to be addressed through administrative law. What are the long-term implications for the individuals, families, and communities torn apart through these policies? Have these policies reduced crime, as their proponents contend? Will these trends continue or be reversed? To what degree do these policies legitimize racialization, denigration, and stereotyping of immigrants in the United States? This panel considers these and other related questions.

Moderator: Annie Lai


  • Jennifer M. Chacón, professor of Law, UC Irvine and author of “Overcriminalizing Immigration” and “Citizenship and Family: Revisiting Dred Scott”.
  • Daniel Kanstroom, professor of Law, Boston College and author of Aftermath: Deportation Law and the New American Diaspora and Deportation Nation: Outsiders in American History.
  • Roberto G. Gonzales, assistant professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education and author of Learning to be Illegal and the forthcoming Lives in Limbo: Undocumented and Coming of Age in America.

Coffee Break

  • 3:15-5:00pm

Part Two: The Politics of Citizenship

Stiffened border enforcement efforts have been accompanied by rising immigrant activism, from the historic 2006 immigrant rights marches, to the DREAMer movement, and to the formation of new coalitions designed to bring about immigration reform. What new conceptualizations of citizenship and belonging are such groups formulating? How is the political environment changing? What are the implications of the fact that new forms of relief have taken administrative rather than legislative form? Will U.S. society remain divided along lines of legal status? What measures are state and local governments adopting to integrate immigrants? To what degree are politicians increasingly feeling compelled to take immigrants and immigration into account and why? Are there sustainable solutions to the challenges created by the structural inequalities and political violence that underlie migration itself?

Moderator: Susan Bibler Coutin


  • Hiroshi Motomura, Susan Westerberg Prager Professor of Law, UCLA and author of Americans in Waiting: The Lost Story of Immigration and Citizenship in the United States and Immigration Outside the Law.
  • Cecilia Menjívar, Foundation Distinguished Professor, University of Kansas and co-editor of “Constructing Immigrant ‘Illegality:’ Critiques, Experiences, and Responses”, and author of Fragmented Ties: Salvadoran Immigrant Networks in America.
  • Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director, National Immigration Law Center.
Conference Organizers
  • Vicki L. Ruiz
  • Distinguished Professor of History and Chicano/Latino Studies and Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences

  • Rubén G. Rumbaut
  • Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Fellow, National Academy of Education and American Academy of Arts and Sciences

  • Susan Bibler Coutin
  • Professor of Criminology, Law, and Society and Associate Dean, UCI Graduate Division

  • Louis DeSipio
  • Professor of Political Science and Chicano/Latino Studies and Director, UCI Center for the Study of Democracy

  • Annie Lai
  • Assistant Clinical Professor of Law and Co-Director, Immigrant Rights Clinic