States As Immigration Battlegrounds

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States As Immigration Battlegrounds

Presenters: S. Karthick Ramakrishnan and Pratheepan Gulasekaram


Pratheepan Gulasekaram is Associate Professor at Santa Clara University School of Law. He has published widely on immigration federalism and the constitutional rights of noncitizens both in popular media platforms, and in prominent legal journals, including the New York University Law Review. Before entering academia, Gulasekaram clerked for the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans. He earned his B.A. at Brown University, and his J.D. at Stanford Law School.

Karthick Ramakrishnan is Professor of Political Science and Associate Dean of the School of Public Policy at the University of California, Riverside. He directs the National Asian American Survey and has written many books and articles on civic participation and immigration policy. Ramakrishnan is founding editor of the Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics (JREP) and is an appointee to the California Commission on APIA Affairs. He earned his B.A. at Brown University, and his Ph.D. at Princeton University.

Since 2004, the United States has seen a flurry of state and local laws dealing with unauthorized immigrants. Though initially restrictionist, these laws have recently shifted to promote integration. How are we to make sense of this new immigration federalism? What are its causes? And what are its consequences for the federal-state balance of power?

In The New Immigration Federalism, professors Gulasekaram and Ramakrishnan provide answers to these questions using a mix of quantitative, historical, and doctrinal legal analysis. In so doing they refute the popular “demographic necessity” argument put forward by anti-immigrant activists and politicians. Instead, they posit that immigration federalism is rooted in a particular political process that connects both federal and subfederal actors: the Polarized Change Model. Their model captures not only the spread of restrictionist legislation, but also its abrupt turnaround in 2012, and it projects valuable insights for the future.

For more information about the book, please visit



Immigrants’ Rights Clinic