Law professor, immigration lawyer, author
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The Battle to Stay in America

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A story about mothers and fathers, lawyers and activists, local police and federal agencies, and a struggle for the

identity of a nation.

The Book
The Battle to Stay in America is the true story of a community coming to grips with the federal government’s crackdown on immigrants and learning how to defend itself.
Informative and intensely personal, this is a story about mothers and fathers, lawyers and activists, local police and federal agencies, and a struggle for the identity of a nation. This is the story of the war on immigrants, as fought and felt on the front lines in the heart of America.
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Praise for The Battle

  • “Refreshing clarity and heart ... an unusually accessible primer on immigration law and a valuable guide to the ways it currently works to perpetuate an excluded immigrant underclass with diminished rights.”

    The New York Review of Books

  • “Michael Kagan’s book paints a picture of Vegas that most people never see: families struggling to stay together despite ICE's  efforts to rip them apart, as well as activists, advocates and immigration lawyers fighting from strip malls for justice in their communities. ... I highly recommend it.”

    Lindsay Toczylowski

    Executive Director

    Immigrant Defenders Law Center

  • “This book is unlike any other immigration book I have ever read.”

    Doris Marie Provine

     author of Policing Immigrants

  • “Kagan’s narrative and personal style adds to the immigration law literature what so many other books lack: compassion. Kagan shows us that immigration law is ultimately about the neighbors who disappear, and the inhumane system of immigration laws that makes it possible.”

     William Lopez

     author of Separated

  • “Michael Kagan has written one of the most straightforward guidebooks to our complicated, illogical and often cruel immigration system I’ve read. ... Those repelled by our polarized immigration debate dominated by voices of the shrill and uninformed can look to Kagan for nuance, reflective analysis and understanding.”

    Roque Planas

    Senior Reporter, HuffPost

  • “Converts headlines into personal tales of struggles to circumvent and survive immigration policing in the modern era. … That’s a story that should be told, and Kagan does it remarkably well.”

    César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández

    author of Migrating to Prison

  • “Can’t recommend it highly enough ... Riveting, horrifying, raw and personal. Kagan uses real people who make up the unseen fabric of Vegas to tell harrowing stories. When it comes to politicians, he spares no one ... Kagan shows the toll the system has taken on him and society. He also has ideas for solutions.”

    Jon Ralston

    Editor, The Nevada Independent

  • “Kagan showcases his first book with a bang, combining the changes in our country nationally with the way immigration has unfolded in his community.”

    Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia

    author of Banned

  • “What makes it valuable is its focus on how those policies play out in one city — one that, for all its quirks, exemplifies the nation at large.”

    Desert Companition

  • “Kagan tells this story not just as a frontline immigration 

    lawyer, but also as a citizen, as a friend, and a parent. His intensely personal account converts headlines, complicated and punitive legal processes, and unjust bureaucratic procedures into the personal stories … This is the immigration story that needs to be told … Could not be more timely.”

    New Books Network

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Michael Kagan is the Joyce Mack Professor of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and is the director of the UNLV Immigration Clinic, which defends children and families fighting deportation in Las Vegas. He has lived in Las Vegas, the setting for The Battle to Stay in America, since 2011. 

Kagan began working with refugees in Cairo, Egypt, in 1998, while he was still in law school. He spent the first decade of his career building legal aid programs for refugees throughout the Middle East and Asia, and lived in London, Cairo, Beirut and Jerusalem. 


In 2019, Kagan was a plaintiff in one of the lawsuits that prevented the Trump administration from including a question about citizenship on the 2020 Census. 

He has written for The Washington, The Hill and The Daily Beast and is a leading national scholar of immigration and refugee law. The Battle to Stay in America is his first book.

For updates, follow Michael Kagan on Facebook. For email inquiries, click here.


For any media, speaking, event and other inquiries, please email.

© 2020 by Michael Kagan, created with

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