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 Sanctuary policies are not nullifications of federal law, nor are they superseded by federal preemption.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 (2000-2019).
I have a forthcoming co-authored book, State Citizenship: A New Framework for Rights in the United States (Cambridge University Press., 2020) with Karthick Ramakrishnan (UC Riverside), which advances a novel explication of the citizenship concept in federated framework as a parallel set of rights alongside five key dimensions, with the provision of those rights varying by jurisdiction—federal, state, and local. Through our conceptual framework, we link contemporary dynamics in immigration federalism to the long fight for African American rights and argue for a new narrative of American federalism that is progressive in nature. Our framework also helps make sense of the troubled history that American federalism has had by laying out different regimes of state citizenship: “progressive citizenship,” where states expand rights beyond those provided at the national level, “regressive citizenship,” where states restrict or erode rights provided at the national level, and “reinforcing citizenship,” where states reinforce or mirror federal rules on rights provision. Through an APD-based explanatory framework, the book dives into the political history of African Americans and immigrants, applying our multidimensional framework to the provision of progressive, regressive, and reinforcing state citizenship, from America’s founding to our present. Our primary argument is that state citizenship emerges out of a political process involving 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, the Old Goat 50 Miler and the San Diego 50 Miler. My lovely wife, Shima Kalaei, is a practicing attorney in estate planning at DenHerder & Associates, and we have a beautiful 3 year old daughter, Maya.