I am an Assistant Professor of Political Science in the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Arizona State University, with expertise in racial politics, immigration, American political development, federalism and citizenship.
I recently received the Russell Sage Foundation’s Presidential Award for their Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration initiative 2018-2020 to support my single-authored book, Today's Runaway Slaves: Unauthorized Immigrants in a Federalist Framework. Employing an APD approach, I trace how courts have shaped federalism conflicts between levels of government through Constitutional arrangements originating in slavery rulings and expanded in alienage and immigration rulings. Sanctuary policies are not nullifications of federal law, nor are they superseded by federal preemption. They have historically emerged from abolitionist responses to a Constitutional crisis caused by slavery law over the rights of blacks, and are reemerging today in response to a similar Constitutional crisis caused by federal immigration law over the rights of asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants. I combine APD analysis with casual inference, to advance and empirically test a theory of how federalism dynamics and advocacy coalition building on the ground explains the timing, sequencing, and diffusion of state and city level sanctuary policies to protect: runaway slaves (1780-1860), Central American asylum seekers (1980-1997) and undocumented immigrants (2000-2018).
I have a forthcoming co-authored book, Progressive State Citizenship (Cambridge University Press., 2019) with Karthick Ramakrishnan (UC Riverside) that places recent immigrant policies into a larger historical and theoretical context by exploring what it means for states to expand or contract the rights of immigrants, Blacks, LGBTQ communities, and people with disabilities. We develop a conceptual framework of federated citizenship as a parallel set of rights across levels of government (national, state and local), all with the same five key dimensions of rights – and we apply this to each group systematically. Through process-tracing of single cases, comparative case analyses and a 50-state time series analysis, we advance and test a theory of how state citizenship emerges through a distinctive causal process linking key national events, the building of state coalitions, and structural conflicts and accommodations in federalism.
Outside the academy, I am an ultra trail distance runner. I completed the San Diego 100 Mile Endurance Run (2015), the Old Goat 50 Miler (2015, 2014, 2012) and the San Diego 50 Miler (2015). My lovely wife, Shima Kalaei, is a practicing attorney in estate planning at DenHerder & Associates, and we have a beautiful 2 year old daughter, Maya.