Class Year




Document Type


Distinguished Thesis


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Department or Program

Sociology and Anthropology

Second Department or Program

International Relations

First Advisor

Holly Swyers

Second Advisor

James Marquardt

Third Advisor

Rebecca Graff

Fourth Advisor

Ying Wu

Fifth Advisor

Shiwei Chen


This paper examines the relationship between US immigration policy and immigration experience through a constructivist perspective in order to gain a more complete understanding of the implications of this relationship. I analyze US immigration policy through a constructivist international relations perspective to provide an understanding of how the US has historically represented itself and how US norms, values, and interests change over time. My research shows that constructivism is the best international relations approach to explain how the domestic experiences of immigrants affect and are affected by US immigration policy because all aspects of international and domestic experiences are shaped by the social construction of reality. To further explore the relationship between immigration policy and lived experience, I present the case study of contemporary Chinese immigrants and Chinese Americans who reside in the Chicagoland area as evidence of the reciprocal relationship between US immigration policy and racialized immigration experiences.