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Few issues in the current U.S. political climate sparks more fervent debate than the role and fate of undocumented immigrants. A new series at UC Santa Barbara, “Changing Faces of U.S. Citizenship,” will explore immigration and seeks to bring the Santa Barbara community into the national conversation on this contentious subject.The first event of the series, “Citizens of Nowhere: The Case for Embracing the Stateless,” is Friday, Feb. 16, at 4 p.m. in the McCune Room on the sixth floor of UCSB’s Humanities and Social Sciences Building. David Baluarte, an associate clinical professor of law and director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic at Washington and Lee School of Law, will be the speaker. A panel discussion featuring four UCSB scholars will follow.
Helen Morales, the Argyropoulos Professor of Hellenic Studies in the Department of Classics at UCSB and a co-organizer of the series with Beth DePalma Digeser, a professor of history, called the project “timely and urgent. It is an invitation to examine U.S. citizenship, the challenges it faces and what might happen to it in the future.
“However,” she continued, “citizenship has been a longstanding interest of ours (we are both scholars of the ancient world) and the project will also explore how U.S. citizenship came to be formed: what it took from ancient Greek and Roman models of citizenship, and how it changed with Reconstruction and women’s suffrage. Why are some groups of people second-class citizens? Did you know that it is legal for disabled employees to be paid less than the minimum wage? And that convicted felons cannot vote?”
The discussion panel will include Ben V. Olguín, the Robert and Liisa Erickson Presidential Chair in English; Paul Spickard, professor of history; Diana Valdivía, UCSB undocumented services coordinator; and Kalina Yamboliev, a history graduate student.
“Changing Faces of U.S. Citizenship” is …