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S. Deborah Kang

S. Deborah Kang

Associate Professor

Office: SBSB 2235
Hours: On leave 2020-2021

S. Deborah Kang

Associate Professor

S. Deborah Kang received her B.A. from the College Scholar Program at Cornell University, and an M.A. from the Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program and Ph.D. in United States History from the University of California at Berkeley.  Published by Oxford University Press in 2017, her first book, The INS on the Line: Making Immigration Law on the US-Mexico Border, 1917-1954won the Henry Adams Prize from the Society for History in the Federal Government, the Theodore Saloutos Book Award from the Immigration and Ethnic History Society, the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians Book Prize, the W. Turrentine Jackson Award from the Western History Association, and the Americo Paredes Book Award for Best Nonfiction Book on Chicano/a, Mexican American and/or Latino/a Studies.  It was also recognized as a Finalist for the 2018 Weber-Clements Book Prize by the Western History Association.  Her current research focuses on the relationship between law and society along the nation’s northern and southern borders and has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Huntington Library, the Clements Center for Southwest Studies, and the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies and the US Immigration Policy Center at the University of California at San Diego.

The recipient of two teaching awards from Harvard University, Kang has taught courses on western and borderlands history as well as Asian American, Chicano/a, Native American, immigration, and legal history.  She also teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on historical research methods.  As a result of her participation in the 2015-2016 NEH-sponsored Digital Pedagogy Workshop, both her undergraduate and graduate courses offer students an introduction to the digital humanities and tools such as StoryMap JS and Scalar.

Kang is currently serving a three-year term as the chair of the Committee on Assault Response and Educational Strategies for the Western History Association (WHA-CARES).  She is also a member of the San Diego chapter of the Scholars Strategy Network, the executive board of the Immigration and Ethnic History Society, the editorial boards of the Western Historical Quarterly and Western Legal History: The Journal of the Ninth Judicial Circuit Historical Society and the advisory team for Literacy and the Law, a K-12 educational initiative sponsored by the Superior Court of San Diego and California State University San Marcos.  

Kang has provided expert commentary for documentary filmmakers and major media outlets and was recently featured in Time Magazine's "The 25 Moments from American History that Matter Right Now" series.  She is available for interviews on topics related to immigration law and policy, immigration history, and the US-Mexico border.


Ph.D., United States History, University of California at Berkeley

M.A., Jurisprudence and Social Policy, University of California at Berkeley

B.A., College Scholar, Cornell University



S. Deborah Kang, The INS on the Line: Making Immigration Law on the US-Mexico Border, 1917-1954 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017).

  • Theodore Saloutos Book Award, Immigration and Ethnic History Society, 2018
  • Henry Adams Prize, Society on History in the Federal Government, 2018
  • Berkshire Conference of Women Historians Book Prize, 2017
  • W. Turrentine Jackson Award, Western History Association, 2018
  • Americo Paredes Book Award for Nonfiction, 2018
  • Finalist, Weber-Clements Book Prize, Western History Association, 2018

Jon Gjerde, Catholicism and the Shaping of Nineteenth Century America, edited with a Preface and Epilogue by S. Deborah Kang (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012).


Tom K. Wong, Ph.D., S. Deborah Kang, Ph.D., Carolina Valdivia, M.A., Josefina Espino, Michelle Gonzalez, Elia Peralta, “How Interior Immigration Enforcement Erodes Trust in Law Enforcement,” Perspectives on Politics, vol. 17, n. 4 (2019), 1-14.

S. Deborah Kang, "Implementation: How the Borderlands Redefined Federal Immigration Law and Policy, 1917-1924," California Legal History: Journal of the California Supreme Court Historical Society, vol. 7 (2012).

S. Deborah Kang, "Jon Gjerde's Immigrant America," in Norwegian American Essays 2010, edited by Øyvind Gulliksen (Oslo: Novus Forlag, 2011).

S. Deborah Kang, “Crossing the Line: The INS and the Federal Regulation of the Mexican Border,” in Bridging National Borders in North America, edited by Andrew Graybill and Benjamin Heber Johnson (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2010).


History 131: U.S. History, 1865 to the Present, Lecture Course

History 300: Violence and the History of the US-Mexico Border

History 301: Historical Methods and Writing, Seminar

History 338A: Modern US Indian Policy, Lecture Course

History 345: Immigration History, Lecture Course

History 346: Western History, Lecture Course

History 347: California History, Lecture Course

History 350: Chicano/a History, Lecture Course

History 430: Social Movements in Modern United States History, Seminar

History 538: North American Borderlands History, Graduate Seminar

History 538: Modern United States History, Graduate Seminar


  • American Legal History from 1492 to the Present
  • Asian American History
  • Asian Americans and the Law
  • Immigration Law and Policy in Historical Perspective

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