Immigration Law

My Great-Grandparents Weren’t ‘Illegal’ When They Came To The U.S. They Would Be Now.

Prof. Kari Hong, Feb. 3, 2018 - "Around 1905, when Norway would have been considered a “shithole,” my great-grandmother sailed to the United States. She was 16 years old, without family and money, and found work as a house cleaner. My great-grandfather was a Norwegian sailor who jumped ship and just started living in Chicago. Fortunately for me, the immigration laws we had then let them get green cards and earn citizenship. My mother recounts her grandparents as kind and decent, suffering humiliation and enduring hardship to provide opportunities for their children. They were frugal and bought a house. Both of their sons served in WWII; one was shot down and was a POW. Their granddaughter, my mother, was the first in their family to attend college. Their story, an immigrant story, exemplifies the American dream. Our immigration laws have been a bit more complicated. We have a restrictionist past, having excluded people based on race and nationality, including people from China, Japan and Italy. The country moved to rectify these exclusionary policies with the passage of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. We have also had important chapters in our immigration story when we calculated “merit” properly: not by measuring a person’s worth based on what they lacked upon their arrival, but by valuing the future contributions that arise from their hopes, grit and gratitude. ... [More]..."

Kari Hong is an assistant professor of law at Boston College Law School. An expert in immigration law, criminal law, and LGBT issues, Professor Hong’s scholarship focuses on the immigration consequences of criminal convictions, immigration policy, and contemporary matters in criminal law.