SYMPOSIUM: PURSUING EQUAL JUSTICE IN THE WEST: Driver's Licenses and Undocumented Immigrants: The Future of Civil Rights Law? Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 2004 Nevada Law Journal 
Nevada Law Journal

SYMPOSIUM: PURSUING EQUAL JUSTICE IN THE WEST: Driver's Licenses and Undocumented Immigrants: The Future of Civil Rights Law?

Fall, 2004

5 Nev. L.J. 213


Kevin R. Johnson*


In the United States, efforts to end racial discrimination have generally been viewed as struggles for basic civil rights. The anti-discrimination aim of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s might be considered the primary civil rights concern. With the help of cases like Brown v. Board of Education, 1 officially sanctioned school and housing segregation was dismantled. The triumph of the ban on racial discrimination can be seen in a myriad of laws, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 2 the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 3 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. 4

As immigration has dramatically transformed the racial demographics of this nation, the United States today is seeing a new generation of civil rights grievances emerge. This Article analyzes how immigration generates, and will for the foreseeable future continue to generate, new civil rights controversies in the United States. 5 The nation has only begun to appreciate how Mexican migration, combined with that from the rest of the world, has changed the entire country, not just the region known as the American Southwest. Issues associated with immigration and border enforcement, language regulation, cultural difference, and equal citizenship and full membership, are arising with increasing frequency and will likely continue to do so in the future.

The nexus between immigration and civil rights has tightened as the overlap between immigrant and minority status has grown. From the late 1800s through 1965, the U.S. immigration laws preferred immigrants from northern Europe. In 1965, ...
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