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Kevin R. Johnson

Dean and Mabie-Apallas Professor of Public Interest Law and Chicana/o Studies


A.B. Economics, University of California, Berkeley, Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Epsilon

J.D., magna cum laude, Harvard University


Kevin R. Johnson is Dean, Mabie-Apallas Professor of Public Interest Law, and Professor of Chicana/o Studies. He joined the UC Davis law faculty in 1989 and was named Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in 1998.  Johnson became Dean in 2008.  He has taught a wide array of classes, including immigration law, civil procedure, complex litigation, Latinos and Latinas and the law, and Critical Race Theory.  In 1993, he was the recipient of the law school's Distinguished Teaching Award.

Dean Johnson has published extensively on immigration law and civil rights. Published in 1999, his book How Did You Get to Be Mexican? A White/Brown Man's Search for Identity was nominated for the 2000 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award.  Dean Johnson’s latest book, Immigration Law and the US-Mexico Border (2011), received the Latino Literacy Now’s International Latino Book Awards – Best Reference Book.  Dean Johnson blogs at ImmigrationProf, and is a regular contributor on immigration on SCOTUSblog.

A regular participant in national and international conferences, Dean Johnson has also held leadership positions in the Association of American Law Schools and is the recipient of an array of honors and awards.  He is quoted regularly by the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and other national and international news outlets.  

A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, where he served as an editor of the Harvard Law Review, Dean Johnson earned an A.B. in economics from UC Berkeley, graduating Phi Beta Kappa.  After law school, he clerked for the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and worked as an attorney at the international law firm of Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe. Dean Johnson has served on the board of directors of Legal Services of Northern California since 1996 and currently is President of the board.  From 2006-11, he served on the board of directors of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the leading Mexican-American civil rights organization in the United States.

Dean Johnson is the recipient of many awards and honors, including the Association of American Law Schools Minority Groups Section Clyde Ferguson Award (2004), the Hispanic National Bar Association Law Professor of the Year award (2006), the National Association of Chicana and Chicano Studies Scholar of the Year award (2008), the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) Romero Vive Award (2012), and the Centro Legal de la Raza Outstanding Achievements in the Law Award (2015). In 2003, he was elected to the American Law Institute.

Subject Areas

Immigration Law And Policy, Refugee Law, Complex Litigation, Civil Procedure (Including Civil Litigation And Complex Litigation), Civil Rights, Critical Race Theory, Critical Latina/o Theory

Selected Career Highlights

  • Appointed Dean of the School of Law, July 2008
  • Clerk to Judge Stephen Reinhardt, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 1983-84
  • Editor of the Harvard Law Review, volumes 95-96
  • Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) Romero Vice Award, 2012
  • Immigration Policy Group, 2008 Presidential Campaign of Senator Barack Obama
  • 2008 Scholar of the Year, National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies
  • Professor of the Year, Hispanic National Bar Association, 2006
  • Mabie-Apallas Public Interest Law Chair, 2004
  • Clyde Ferguson Jr. Award for Outstanding Professor of the Year, Minority Groups, 2004 Section of the Association of American Law Schools, 2004
  • Elected to the American Law Institute, 2003

Selected Publications

Immigration Law and the US-Mexico Border, University of Arizona Press, 2011 (with co-author) (recipient Latino Literacy Now's International Latino Book Awards - Best Reference Book)

Understanding Immigration Law, LexisNexis (2009) (with co-authors)

Complex Litigation: Cases and Materials on Litigating for Social Change, Carolina Academic Press, 2009 (with co-authors)

Opening the Floodgates: Why America Needs to Rethink Its Borders and Immigration Laws, NYU Press, 2007

The "Huddled Masses" Myth: Immigration and Civil Rights, Temple University Press, 2004

Mixed Race America and the Law: A Reader, (New York University Press, 2002)

A Reader on Race, Civil Rights, and American Law: A Multiracial Approach, Carolina Academic Press, 2001 (with co-authors)

How Did You Get to Be Mexican?: A White/Brown Man's Search For Identity, Temple University Press, 1999 (nominated for 2000 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award)

Gideon v. Wainwright and the Right to Counsel in Immigration Removal Cases, Yale Law Journal (forthcoming, symposium on the 50th Anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright)

Anatomy of a Modern Day Lynching: The Relationship Between Hate Crimes Against Latina/os and the Debate Over Immigration Reform, North Carolina Law Review (forthcoming 2013) (co-authored)

Sweet Home Alabama? Immigration and Civil Rights in the "New" South, 64 Stanford Law Review Online 22 (Dec. 5, 2011) (published as adapted Huffington Post (Dec. 6, 2011))

How Racial Profiling in America Became the Law of the Land: United States v. Brignoni-Ponce and Whren v. United States and the Need for Truly Rebellious Lawyering, 98 Georgetown Law Journal 1005 (2010)

The Intersection of Race and Class in U.S. Immigration Law and Enforcement, 72 Law & Contemporary Problems (Duke) 1 (2009)

A Handicapped, Not “Sleeping,” Giant: The Devastating Impact of the Initiative Process on Latina/o and Immigrant Communities, 96 California Law Review 1259 (2008)

Minorities, Immigrant and Otherwise, Yale Law Journal Pocket Part (Oct. 2008)

The Story of Whren v. United States: The Song Remains the Same, in Race and Law Stories 419 (Rachel F. Moran & Devon Carbado editors., Foundation Press, 2008)

Protecting National Security Through More Liberal Admission of Immigrants, 2007 University of Chicago Legal Forum 157

The Immigrant Rights Marches of 2006 and the Prospects for a New Civil Rights Movement, 42 Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review 99 (2007) (co-authored)

Taking the "Garbage" Out in Tulia: Racial Profiling and the Taboo on Black/White Romance in the "War on Drugs", 2007 Wisconsin Law Review 239

Immigration Reform, National Security After September 11, and the Future of North American Integration, 91 Minnesota Law Review 1369 (2007) (co-authored)

The Legacy of Jim Crow: The Enduring Taboo of Black-White Romance, 84 Texas Law Review 739 (2006)

National Identity in a Multicultural Nation: The Challenge of Immigration Law and Immigrants, 03 Michigan Law Review 1347 (2005) (co-authored)

Roll Over Beethoven: "A Critical Examination of Recent Writing about Race", 82 Texas Law Review 717 (2004)

Open Borders?, 51 UCLA Law Review 193 (2003)

The End of “Civil Rights” as We Know It?: Immigration and the New Civil Rights Law, 49 UCLA Law Review 1481 (2002)

The Case Against Racial Profiling in Immigration Enforcement, 78 Washington University Law Quarterly 675 (2000) (published in adapted form in Human Rights, Winter 2001, at 23)

Race, The Immigration Laws, and Domestic Race Relations: A "Magic Mirror" Into the Heart of Darkness, 73 Indiana Law Journal 1111 (1998)

“Melting Pot" or "Ring of Fire"?: Assimilation and the Mexican-American Experience, 85 California Law Review 1259 (1997)

Public Benefits and Immigration: The Intersection of Immigration Status, Ethnicity, Gender, and Class, 42 UCLA Law Review 1509 (1995)