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CPRC SEMINAR: The Rise of Legal Status Restrictions in American Social Welfare Policy

  • Columbia University 1255 Amsterdam Ave New York United States (map)
Cybelle Fox.jpg

In the early 1970s, the California and New York state legislatures each passed measures designed to bar unauthorized immigrants from access to public assistance. This paper examines these cases to better understand why unauthorized immigrants’ use of welfare suddenly became a subject of concern to state and local officials in the early 1970s, and why these two states tried to curb unauthorized immigrants’ use of assistance before the federal government intervened and barred their access altogether. Common explanations for the curtailment of immigrant social rights often center on partisan politics, popular nativism, demographic context, or issue entrepreneurs. But these studies wrongly assume that efforts to limit immigrants’ access to aid began in the 1990s. As such, they have missed how these restrictive measures were initially closely bound up in broader debates over race and welfare that followed in the wake of the War on Poverty and the Civil Rights Movement. Where scholars often argue that immigration undermines support for welfare, I show how the turn against welfare helped to undermine immigrant social rights.

Thursday - March 28th - 2019

Columbia School of Social Work, CO3
1255 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10027

Register for the event here.

Cybelle Fox, Professor of Sociology, UC Berkeley 
Cybelle Fox studies the intersection of race, immigration and American social welfare policies. Her most recent book, Three Worlds of Relief (Princeton University Press, 2012), compares the incorporation of blacks, Mexicans, and European immigrants in the American welfare system from the Progressive Era to the New Deal. Fox won six book awards for Three Worlds of Relief, including the 2012 C. Wright Mills Award from the Society for the Study of Social Problems. Fox’s work has appeared in the American Journal of SociologyAmerican Behavioral ScientistJournal of American HistorySocial ForcesSociology of EducationPolitical Science Quarterly, and Sociological Methods and Research. She is also co-author of Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings (Basic Books, 2004).