Democracy for All: Restoring Immigrant Voting Rights in the United States and The 50% American: Immigration and National Identity in an Age of Terror
Democracy for All: Restoring Immigrant Voting Rights in the United States. By Ron Hayduk. New York: Routledge, 2006. 264p. $24.95 paper, $95.00 cloth.
The 50% American: Immigration and National Identity in an Age of Terror. By Stanley A. Renshon. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2005. 298p. $26.95 cloth.
Immigration is a powerful narrative in the history of the United States, at times evoking optimism and at other times providing fodder to foment xenophobia. These two books, authored by a pair of New York City–based scholars, share a common vantage point in the experience of the most racially and ethnically diverse city of immigrants in the United States. At the same time, the books are a study in contrasts, a neat fit to both ends of the spectrum between hope and fear. One is concerned with enhancing freedom and the other with maintaining order. One advocates expansion of political expression in the form of the franchise, the other recommends constraint. One looks to our nation's history—to our sometimes ignominious past of exclusion, as well as to expansive practices allowing noncitizen voting—and highlights inclusionary lessons to draw, and the other looks to the future and sees danger in a post-9/11 world of organized terror. Although distinctive in many ways, both books are passionately written, and one is compelled to read on whether cheering in agreement or taking umbrage, for the arguments will resonate regardless of where one sits on the political spectrum.