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March 16, 2022 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm EDT

Speaker Series: 2021-22 ABF Post-Doctoral Fellows

Hardeep Dhillon & Sonya Rao
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In-Person (American Bar Foundation)

Hardeep Dhillon: Reimagining the Racial Origins of Modern American Immigration and Border Control

Hardeep Dhillon is a socio-legal historian of immigration and border enforcement with a secondary field in gender and sexuality studies. Her first book manuscript follows the journeys of South Asian immigrants who sought to immigrate to the United States in the early twentieth century. By recasting histories of immigration through microhistories from below, Hardeep orients our imaginaries of immigration and border enforcement through the journeys of immigrants rather than imperial state legislation. This approach expands the literature on immigration and border enforcement to account for the full scope of restrictions that immigrants encountered prior to and after their arrival in the United States, and the transimperial intersections through which these restrictions emerged. It also reveals how enhanced legal restrictions developed through contestations between immigrant and state officials rather than through unilateral state directives.

View Hardeep’s ABF profile here.


Sonya Rao: Teaching Quality Communication: The Need for Professional Solidarity Between Legal Professionals and Interpreters in the United States

In this presentation, I will share my broader research program and intellectual project. First, I will summarize findings from my dissertation project, Privatizing Language Work: Interpreters and Access in Los Angeles Immigration Court (2021), in which I argued that the erasure of everyday communication labor in immigration courts creates poor working conditions for courtroom professionals and allows contractors to aggressively prioritize profit over quality language services. Next, I describe how the results motivated me to design my current project, an investigation into current approaches to the language barrier in clinical legal education. I will share preliminary findings from the first 20 interviews from this research, including the need for more significant support of professional legal interpreters by legal professionals. I conclude with a discussion of a common thread throughout my work, a call to transcend current notions of “language access” to theorize quality communication as a public good.

View Sonya’s ABF profile here.