Allan Colbern is an assistant professor in the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences in the New College at Arizona State University. He works with immigrant rights organizations like the California Immigrant Policy Center and New York Immigrant Coalition on building state-wide capacity and pro-immigrant policy blueprints. His expertise is in American political development and the intersection between immigration, civil rights, social movements, federalism and citizenship.
He is the author of "Citizenship Reimagined: A New Framework for State Rights in the United States," forthcoming with Cambridge University Press on October 22, 2020, which examines how federalism shapes citizenship in the United States and explores what it means for states to pass policies that expand or contract the rights of immigrants, Blacks, women and LGBTQ communities. Dr. Colbern received Russell Sage Foundation’s Presidential Award for 2018-2021 to complete his second book, "Today’s Runaway Slaves: Unauthorized Immigrants in a Federalist Framework," on the passage of sanctuary policies throughout American history. This book is the feature of Dr. Colbern’s TEDxASUWest Talk, We Have Been Here Before. Combining process tracing, comparative and time series analysis, Today’s Runaway Slaves explains how federated political institutions (constitutions, courts, parties) and social movements intersect to create periods of resistance to unjust federal laws through local sanctuary laws that protected and transformed the rights of: runaway slaves (1780-1860), Central American asylum seekers (1980-1996) and undocumented immigrants (1997-2020). He also has a forthcoming chapter in the edited volume, Immigrant California: Understanding the Past, Present, and Future of U.S. Policy and has published in New Political Science, Fordham Urban Law Review, Policy Matters, and in popular sources, including the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times.