One Saratoga Springs native is on the cusp of releasing his first book, and it’s been nearly a decade in the making. Adam Goodman, a history and Latin American studies professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago (where Goodman calls home now), will release his debut book, The Deportation Machine: America’s Long History of Expelling Immigrants, in June 2020 from Princeton University Press. With nine years of in-field and in-depth research under his belt, Goodman’s excited to see his hard work in print.
“It’s somewhat surreal to wrap up a decade-long project, but I’m ready for the book to be out in the world,” says Goodman. The Deportation Machine meticulously details the history of expulsion of immigrants from the United States starting in the late 19th century and running up to the current time. Though not the first book to dissect the history of deportation and immigration, the work of nonfiction does set itself apart by, in Goodman’s words, “uncovering the deportation machine’s inner workings,” as well as tracing the emergence and history of immigrant activism over the last century. “I show [that] people have taken to the streets and the courts to fight the machine and, in the process, redefined what it means to be American,” says Goodman.
The Spa City native is an authority on immigration, especially along the US-Mexico border, publishing articles on the subject in The Nation and The Washington Post and having his work supported by prestigious organizations such as the Fulbright Program and The National Endowment for the Humanities. Goodman also credits two people from his hometown, Dave Patterson and the late Anna Serafini, teachers at Saratoga Springs High School, for sparking his initial interest in the topic. “They were real influences on me and inspired me to learn more,” says Goodman.
Goodman’s determination to master the Spanish language would later lead him to southern Spain, where he studied abroad, and then along the US-Mexico border in Texas, teaching Hispanic high school students. “I wanted to see more of the United States, and I really enjoyed and appreciated learning about the history and culture of south Texas,” says Goodman. It was there in Texas that he witnessed firsthand the impact that immigration had on the lives of his Hispanic students and their families. Gradually, his interest in the Spanish language began to translate into a passion for understanding immigration and its real-world consequences. “With this book, I’m hoping to humanize this issue that oftentimes is talked about in splashy news headlines or splashy numbers and statistics,” says Goodman.
Goodman’s book originally began as a dissertation at the University of Pennsylvania, while he was working on his doctorate in history. His dissertation would eventually evolve into nearly a decade of immigration research at more than 20 archives across the US and Mexico. Goodman even lived in Mexico City for several years, conducting archival research and recording oral histories about people’s experiences. The end result is a 300-plus page read that intertwines history, current events, US-Mexican culture and, of course, immigration policy.
Due out June 23, The Deportation Machine will be available in hardback, as well as an e-book and audiobook, and all can be preordered now (do it here). Goodman says that he’s hoping to return to the Spa City for an event over the summer or fall, but book tour plans are currently on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Goodman’s still slated to participate in the Printers Row Lit Fest in Chicago in September and the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in October. “I hope the book contributes to contemporary debates about immigration policy,” says Goodman. “And I’m eager to hear what readers think.”