Article Title

Immigrant Passing


The metaphor of America as a "melting-pot" is as old as this country's founding. In its aspirational reach and inclusive vision, this storied narrative is alluring. This assimilationist norm is deeply woven into our culture and laws. But the demand to assimilate can easily cross the ine into unlawful discrimination and exact untold harms on an individual's identity For over eleven million undocumented immgrants in the United States, many of whom have lived here for generations, the story of inclusion smacks of fiction. To remedy their daily fear of deportation and obviate the need to hide, the Obama Administration enacted, through executive action, two landmark programs to defer deportation for specific parents of undocumented children and youths who came to the United States as children. While legal and interdisciplnary scholars have debated the merits of these executive actions within legislative, jurisprudential, and political contexts, this Article does something very different: it exposes an emergent link between assimilation and discrimination by examining undocumented status as a stigma. It argues that the current legal and cultural norms pose passing demands on the lves of undocumented imngrants that drive them into a life ofhiding. It theorizes the Obama Administration's deferred action programs as an anti-passing measure that seeks to challenge what is a de facto passing regime in immigration enforcement. This Article situates undocumented status within the broader antidiscrimination and civil rights discourse and thereby sheds new light on an unexamined aspect of the deferred action programs.