Maria Cristina Garcia
Howard A. Newman Professor of American Studies
Garcia, an Andrew Carnegie Fellow, writes and teaches about refugees, immigrants, and asylum seekers. Her most recent book is State of Disaster: The Failure of U.S. Migration Policy in an Age of Climate Change (University of North Carolina Press, 2022), which was awarded an Honorable Mention from the Theodore Saloutos Book Prize committee of the Immigration and Ethnic History Society.
She is the author of three other books: The Refugee Challenge in Post-Cold War America (Oxford University Press, 2017), a study of the actors and interests that have shaped US refugee policy in the Post-Cold War and post 9/11 era; Seeking Refuge: Central American Migration to Mexico, the United States, and Canada (University of California Press, 2006), a study of the individuals, groups, and organizations that responded to the Central American refugee crisis of the 1980s and 1990s, and helped shape refugee policies throughout North America; and Havana USA: Cuban Exiles and Cuban Americans in South Florida (University of California Press, 1996), examined the migration of Cubans to the United States after the Castro revolution and how these Cold war migrants-became a powerful economic and political presence in the United States, influencing foreign policy and electoral outcomes, reshaping the cultural landscape of the South, and ultimately reinterpreting what it means to assimilate.
Garcia is co-editor (with Maddalena Marinari) of Whose America? U.S. Immigration Policy since 1980 (University of Illinois Press, 2023); and (with Maddalena Marinari and Madeline Hsu) of A Nation of Immigrants Reconsidered: U.S. Society in an Age of Restriction, 1924-1965 (University of Illinois Press, 2019).
Her undergraduate and graduate courses reflect these research interests and are cross-listed with (or fulfill the requirements of) American Studies, Latino Studies, Latin American Studies, and Migration Studies. While Garcia considers herself primarily a historian of 20th century U.S. history, her interest in displaced and mobile populations has increasingly blurred the geographic borders of her work.
In addition to the Andrew Carnegie Fellowship, Garcia is an elected member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Society of American Historians. She is one of the two inaugural recipients of the President's and Provost's Award for Excellence in Research, Teaching,and Service in Diversity. She is also the recipient of Kendall S. Carpenter Memorial Advising Award and the Stephen and Margery Russell Distinguished Teaching Award.
Garcia serves on the History Advisory Committee of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation and has served as a consultant on various television programs.
Her op-eds have appeared in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, The Conversation, the Orlando Sun-Sentinel, and Quartz. She has been interviewed on National Public Radio, C-Span, and Bloomberg Radio.
- refugee, asylum, and immigration history
- climate-driven migration
- U.S. Latino history
- Migration in the Americas
- 20th century US history
Awards and Honors
Recent honors and awards:
- Andrew Carnegie Fellow
- American Academy of Arts and Sciences
- Society of American Historians
- President’s and Provost’s Award for Excellence in Research, Teaching, and Service in Diversity
- Kendall S. Carpenter Memorial Advising Award, Cornell University
- Stephen and Margery Russell Distinguished Teaching Award, College of Arts and Sciences, Cornell University
- State of Disaster: The Failure of US Migration Policy in an Age of Climate Change (University of North Carolina Press, 2022).
- The Refugee Challenge in Post-Cold War America (Oxford University Press, 2017)
- Seeking Refuge: Central American Migration to Mexico, the United States, and Canada (University of California Press, 2006).
- Havana USA: Cuban exiles and Cuban Americans in South Florida (University of California Press, 1996).
- Whose America? US immigration policy since 1986 (with Maddalena Marinari), University of Illinois Press, 2019.
- A Nation of Immigrants reconsidered: US Society in an Age of Restriction, 1924-1965 (with Maddalena Marinari and Madeline Hsu), University of Illinois Press, 2019.
Books in Progress
- Origin Stories: Myth and History in the American Immigration Experience (under contract)
Select recent articles, book chapters, and public access articles
- "A Nation of Immigrants, A Nation of Refuge," in New Narratives on the Peopling of America, ed. T. Alexander Aleinikoff and Alexandra Delano Alonso (Johns Hopkins University Press, forthcoming 2024)
- Co-author of "#Microsyllabus: Immigration Enforcement and the US-Mexico Border," Radical History Review's Abusable Past Blog.
- "Does the United States need a Climate Refugee Policy?" Historical Climatology, April 2019.
- "National (In)security and the 1996 Immigration Act,” Modern American History, vol.1, no.2 (July 2018): 233-236.
- Co-author #ImmigrationSyllabus
Director, Latino Studies Program
In the news
- Book: Policymakers are failing ‘climate refugees’
- Amid refugee announcement, Biden seeks to relieve a backlogged asylum system
- White House acknowledges ‘right to stay home’ for climate migrants
- Despite refugee boost and family reunification, Biden has ‘long road to go’
- Even with SCOTUS win, Dreamers are still vulnerable
- With executive order, Trump advances restrictive policies for immigrants, refugees
- Migrations initiative announces cross-campus awards
- Garcia, Burrow receive inaugural faculty diversity award
- Grants seed social science research, conferences
- Climate change explored as ‘threat multiplier’ in new podcast episode
- History prof plays role in new Statue of Liberty Museum
- Africana hosts talk on climate change and its impact in Africa
- Climate Refugees
- Garcia briefs D.C. policymakers on the history of refugee policy
- Conference explores migration, celebrates Wason Collection centennial
- How the American asylum bureaucracy grew
- García book explores history, complexities of U.S. refugee policy
- Migration, Forced by Climate Change
- Four faculty elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences
- Historians launch Immigration Syllabus website
- Reunion 2016
- Migration, immigration and refugees today
- María Cristina García wins 2016 Andrew Carnegie Fellowship
- Humanists offer critical perspective on climate change