A Community of Equals: The Constitutional Protection of New Americans

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Beacon Press, 1999 - Law - 107 pages
In the last fifty years, many barriers to entering this country—those based on race, language, and national origin—have been eliminated. But at the same time, new immigrants have been stripped of their rights by Congress and a public fearful of competing for jobs and public services.

In this timely book, Owen Fiss examines the paradox of such xenophobic treatment within a democracy committed to pluralism. He looks closely at what he calls the major social disability immigrants face—unequal access to employment, education, welfare, and medical care—and traces the legal acts and amendments that deny immigrants these rights—rights that are granted, he argues, by the Constitution.

Fiss challenges the courts to invoke the courage they once brought to landmark civil rights cases and apply it now to improve our treatment of immigrants. He argues that it is in the interest of all of us—citizens and citizens-to-be—to live up to the promises our Constitution provides. His essay is answered by lawyers, civil rights activists, and leading academics who lend forcefulness to his plea.

This book is essential reading as we continue our national debate on who is entitled to the abundance of America.

"A crucial contribution to a debate about immigration and equality in our prosperous, paranoid times. The fundamental constitutional issues raised by this book should not be ignored and cannot be postponed."
—Ariel Dorfman, author of Death and the Maiden

A series of short paperback originals exploring creative solutions to our most urgent national concerns. The series editors (for Boston Review), Joshua Cohen and Joel Rogers, aim to foster politically engaged, intellectually honest, and morally serious debate about fundamental issues—both on and off the agenda of conventional politics.

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About the author (1999)

Owen Fiss is Sterling Professor of Law at Yale University. His most recent books are Liberalism Divided and The Irony of Free Speech.

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