Threat of Dissent: A History of Ideological Exclusion and Deportation in the United States

Julia Rose Kraut (Author)


In this first comprehensive overview of the intersection of immigration law and the First Amendment, a lawyer and historian traces ideological exclusion and deportation in the United States from the Alien Friends Act of 1798 to the evolving policies of the Trump administration.

Beginning with the Alien Friends Act of 1798, the United States passed laws in the name of national security to bar or expel foreigners based on their beliefs and associations--although these laws sometimes conflict with First Amendment protections of freedom of speech and association or contradict America's self-image as a nation of immigrants. The government has continually used ideological exclusions and deportations of noncitizens to suppress dissent and radicalism throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, from the War on Anarchy to the Cold War to the War on Terror.

In Threat of Dissent--the first social, political, and legal history of ideological exclusion and deportation in the United States--Julia Rose Kraut delves into the intricacies of major court decisions and legislation without losing sight of the people involved. We follow the cases of immigrants and foreign-born visitors, including activists, scholars, and artists such as Emma Goldman, Ernest Mandel, Carlos Fuentes, Charlie Chaplin, and John Lennon. Kraut also highlights lawyers, including Clarence Darrow and Carol Weiss King, as well as organizations, like the ACLU and PEN America, who challenged the constitutionality of ideological exclusions and deportations under the First Amendment. The Supreme Court, however, frequently interpreted restrictions under immigration law and upheld the government's authority.

By reminding us of the legal vulnerability foreigners face on the basis of their beliefs, expressions, and associations, Kraut calls our attention to the ways that ideological exclusion and deportation reflect fears of subversion and serve as tools of political repression in the United States.

Product Details

Harvard University Press
Publish Date
July 21, 2020
6.4 X 9.3 X 1.4 inches | 1.5 pounds

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate

About the Author

Julia Rose Kraut, a lawyer and historian, was the inaugural Judith S. Kaye Fellow for the Historical Society of the New York Courts.


A must-read for those who care about immigration or the First Amendment. In clear and lively prose, Kraut charts how noncitizens are doubly vulnerable under American law: treated with suspicion as strangers, and subject to expulsion based on their political beliefs. Along the way, she forces us to reckon with a deeply troubling reality: freedom of speech has not been available for everyone.--Robert L. Tsai, author of America's Forgotten Constitutions
I opened these pages skeptically, and then could not put them down. Threat of Dissent tells the rich and instructive history of efforts to protect America's borders, first by legislation that excluded unwanted people, and then by legal and judicial challenges to those with unwelcome ideas and beliefs. An essential book for all concerned with US immigration policy and with the free expression of ideas inside and outside the nation.--Alice Kessler-Harris, author of A Difficult Woman: The Challenging Life and Times of Lillian Hellman
An eye-opening and powerfully written book. Julia Rose Kraut demonstrates that though the methods and technologies used by the government to suppress political dissent in the United States have changed over the generations, the fear of radicals--and the association of foreigners with radicalism--has remained constant. Every politically engaged citizen will be riveted by this history of the architects of political suppression and the legal challenges launched by those who sought to protect core American values of freedom of speech and association.--Marรญa Cristina Garcรญa, author of The Refugee Challenge in Post-Cold War America
This is an original, comprehensive history of one of the most pervasive and insidious forms of political repression in the United States--one few Americans know anything about. In a rich narrative spanning more than two centuries, gifted legal historian Julia Rose Kraut reveals how federal authorities routinely barred foreign dissidents who hoped to mingle freely with the public in the 'land of the free.'--Michael Kazin, author of War Against War: The American Fight for Peace, 1914-1918