My research and teaching focuses on immigration, borders, and race. Trained in history and law, I pay close attention to migration and immigration law in constructing notions of belonging and state power. I am interested in transnational methodologies and relational approaches to the study of race, exploring the historical connections between Asian, Latinx, African American, and Indigenous peoples within the U.S. and across national boundaries. My research has been supported by multiple grants and awards, including a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship and a Stanford Humanities Center Fellowship
My first book, Porous Borders: Multiracial Migrations and the Law in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands (University of North Carolina Press, 2017), examined the history of diverse immigrants in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, and the development of immigration policy and law on both sides of the border. The book received the David J. Weber-Clements Center Prize from the Western History Association; the Outstanding Achievement in History award from the Association for Asian American Studies; the Humanities Book Award from the Institute for Humanities Research; and an Honorable Mention for the Theodore Saloutos Memorial Book Award for the best book on U.S. immigration history.
I am currently working on a book project entitled Powers to Exclude: Restriction in an Era of American Expansion, which examines contestations over U.S. territorial control and border expansions from the 1870s to 1930. This project reframes the origins of federal immigration law - and the nation’s right to exclude - as rooted in broader struggles over the changing terrain of U.S. empire. Following the expansion of U.S. borders from the continental U.S. into the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean, I trace how U.S. powers to regulate and exclude certain populations from its territory and body politic emerged in and reverberated through federal immigration law, federal Indian law, and insular laws.