Beacon Press: You Are Not American
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You Are Not American

Citizenship Stripping from Dred Scott to the Dreamers

Author: Amanda Frost

Citizenship is invaluable, yet our status as citizens is always at risk—even for those born on US soil.

Over the last two centuries, the US government has revoked citizenship to cast out its unwanted, suppress dissent, and deny civil rights to all considered “un-American”—whether due to their race, ethnicity, marriage partner, or beliefs. Drawing on the narratives of those who have struggled to be treated as full members of “We the People,” law professor Amanda Frost exposes a hidden history of discrimination and xenophobia that continues to this day.

The Supreme Court’s rejection of Black citizenship in Dred Scott was among the first and most notorious examples of citizenship stripping, but the phenomenon did not end there. Women who married noncitizens, persecuted racial groups, labor leaders, and political activists were all denied their citizenship, and sometimes deported, by a government that wanted to redefine the meaning of “American.” Today, US citizens living near the southern border are regularly denied passports, thousands are detained and deported by mistake, and the Trump administration is investigating the citizenship of 700,000 naturalized citizens. Even elected leaders such as Barack Obama and Kamala Harris are not immune from false claims that they are not citizens eligible to hold office.

You Are Not American grapples with what it means to be American and the issues surrounding membership, identity, belonging, and exclusion that still occupy and divide the nation in the twenty-first century.
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“This troubling investigation of American exclusionism hits the mark.”
Publishers Weekly

“Beautifully and engagingly written, Amanda Frost’s You Are Not American describes the disturbing history of citizen stripping in the United States through the eyes of those involved in the country’s most important court cases on the topic. Frost shows how the manipulation of the rules for losing citizenship reflected some of this country’s most gripping political struggles—over slavery, women’s suffrage, communism, immigration, and world wars—and how far we have yet to go to assure the promise of birthright citizenship enshrined in the US Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment. A must-read!”
—Richard L. Hasen, author of Election Meltdown: Dirty Tricks, Distrust, and the Threat to American Democracy

“This book is an amazing set of biographical stories about historical figures selected to highlight the legal history of why citizenship matters, whether to sue for your freedom, to exercise some liberty, or to keep yourself from being deported. It reads like a dream; not only is the reader absorbed by each story, but the author has skillfully woven the stories into a fabric to show the big picture. Cumulatively, the reader gets an appreciation for the hard-fought legal battles to achieve that condition that many of us take for granted: American citizenship.”
—Lea S. Vandervelde, author of Redemption Song

“One of the defining struggles of the American experience has been over who gets to claim the rights and opportunities of citizenship. In You Are Not American, Amanda Frost clarifies the stakes of these battles over belonging by reconstructing the lives of individual men and women whose citizenship the government tried to strip, from slavery to freedom, in war and peace, and through successive waves of immigration from the early nineteenth century all the way up to our current moment. This book is a moving, masterful, and deeply humane account of why we keep fighting about issues that test our core commitment to liberty and equality for all—our very capacity for democracy.”
—Daniel J. Sharfstein, professor of law and history, Vanderbilt University, and author of Thunder in the Mountains


You Are Not American

ISBN: 978-080705142-9
Publication Date: 1/26/2021
Size:6 x 9
Price:  $27.95
Format: Cloth
Not Yet Published
Will Ship On: January 2021
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