Friday, October 21, 2016

From the Bookshelves: Where the Bird Sings Best Paperback by Alejandro Jodorowsky

Where the bird sings best
Where the Bird Sings Best Paperback by Alejandro Jodorowsky

The magnum opus from Alejandro Jodorowsky—director of The Holy Mountain, star of Jodorowsky’s Dune, spiritual guru behind Psychomagic and The Way of Tarot, innovator behind classic comics The Incal and Metabarons, and legend of Latin American literature.

There has never been an artist like the polymathic Chilean director, author, and mystic Alejandro Jodorowsky. For eight decades, he has blazed new trails across a dazzling variety of creative fields. While his psychedelic, visionary films have been celebrated by the likes of John Lennon, Marina Abramovic, and Kanye West, his novels—praised throughout Latin America in the same breath as those of Gabriel García Márquez—have remained largely unknown in the English-speaking world. Until now.

Where the Bird Sings Best tells the fantastic story of the Jodorowskys’ emigration from Ukraine to Chile amidst the political and cultural upheavals of the 19th and 20th centuries. Like One Hundred Years of Solitude, Jodorowsky’s book transforms family history into heroic legend: incestuous beekeepers hide their crime with a living cloak of bees, a czar fakes his own death to live as a hermit amongst the animals, a devout grandfather confides only in the ghost of a wise rabbi, a transgender ballerina with a voracious sexual appetite holds a would-be saint in thrall. Kaleidoscopic, exhilarating, and erotic, Where the Bird Sings Best expands the classic immigration story to mythic proportions.


October 21, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

They Came To America And Found Love


Tariq and Tabinda Sheikh

In a season of mean-spirited talk about immigration and immigrants, it is nice to hear an upbeat immigrant story.  NPR on its Story Corps had a lovely one today. 

When Tariq Sheikh first saw Tabinda, he remembers she was wearing yellow gloves. A recent arrival from the Dominican Republic, Tabinda had just taken a job as a housekeeper at a New York City hotel — the very same hotel where Sheikh worked at the hotel's front desk.

And when Tariq saw her, he was utterly tongue-tied. He couldn't even say hello.

"Oh, I thought you was rude and mean," she tells him, on a visit with StoryCorps in 2014. "I said, 'Oh my God, this guy don't even say hi.' You're just staring at me!"

But there were a very simple reason for his silence at the time, he tells her: She was the woman of his dreams. "Yeah," she answers, "but I didn't have that dream!"

Still, Tariq, who was an immigrant from Pakistan himself, built up his courage to ask her out for coffee. And it took her two days to answer — but she had a good reason, too: "because I didn't know how to speak English," she explains.


October 21, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 319,711; Deaths at Sea: 3,654


The International Organization for Migration reports that 319,711 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2016 through 19 October, arriving mostly in Greece and Italy. Some 168,857 people have arrived in Greece and 145,381 in Italy during 2016. The total is well below the number of arrivals at this point in 2015, when over 650,000 migrants and refugees had made the journey.

I found the description of migrant deaths to be chilling, with the routine nature of the report of the real human tragedy sounding akin to a weather report:

"Some 3,654 people have died trying to make the crossing in 2016. These include five bodies recovered on Wednesday, when an Irish navy ship encountered a rubber boat and rescued 118 survivors off Libya.

By comparison, deaths through 21 October 2015 stood at 3,138 – 2,822 of them on the Central Mediterranean route between North Africa and Italy."



October 21, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

When These Latinos Tell Immigration Stories, They Push Beyond Fairy Tales


When Latino colleagues from across NPR shared their families' immigration stories for Hispanic Heritage Month, their essays were full of things achieved and things surrendered; cultures celebrated and cultures lost; decisions made by choice and by coercion. Camille Salas, a librarian, wrote about her grandfather's decision to join the Navy in exchange for U.S. citizenship. Cecily Meza-Martinez, of News Operations, wrote about her family's hardships and achievements, which included a role in building Disneyland. Producer Ana Lucia Murillo wrote about how her father crossed the border from Mexico to the U.S. in the bottom of a van marked "Laundromat."  Click the NPR link above for more stories.




October 21, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Truth About Immigration

An informative short video on Wired debunks some basic myths about immigration and undocumented immigrants.


October 21, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Unfiltered Voices From Donald Trump's Crowds


New York Times reporters ERICA BERENSTEIN, NICK CORASANITI and ASHLEY PARKER have  covered Donald J. Trump's rallies for more than a year. His supporters at these events often express their views in angry and provocative ways. The video includes chilling expressions of hatred directed at women, immigrants, Latinos, Muslims, and others.  Its only a little over three minutes but offers much food for thought about the America in which we all live.


October 20, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Louisiana Man Sues to Strike Down State Law Blocking Immigrants from Marrying

Louisiana flag

Louisiana State Flag

Last week, ImmigrationProf reported on a law that restricted the marriages of immigrants.  That law may not be long for this world.

With the help of the National Immigration Law Center, a Louisiana man is challenging the law, which denies some immigrants in the state the fundamental right to a legal marriage. Viet “Victor” Anh Vo filed the lawsuit Vo v. Gee, et al. in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.  He and his partner were prevented from obtaining a marriage license in multiple Louisiana parishes because of a state law that requires any foreign-born person to present a certified birth certificate to obtain a marriage license.

Vo, 31, is a U.S. citizen and has been a resident of Louisiana since he was three months old, but he was never issued an official birth certificate because he was born in a refugee camp in Indonesia after his parents fled Vietnam. His partner, Heather Pham, also is a U.S. citizen.

Vo is represented pro bono by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice (NOWCRJ), and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, & Flom LLP.  The complaint filed today is available here.


October 20, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The American Legal Dream of an Iranian Immigrant

Immigration Article of the Day: Refugees in Our Midst: Applying International Human Rights Law to the Bullying of LGBTQ Youth in the United States by Marisa Silenzi Cianciarulo


Refugees in Our Midst: Applying International Human Rights Law to the Bullying of LGBTQ Youth in the United States by Marisa Silenzi Cianciarulo, Chapman University, The Dale E. Fowler School of Law February 26, 2016

Abstract:      This Article explores the severe bullying of LGBTQ students from a comparative international human rights perspective. Modern international refugee law, in existence since 1951 and accepted by 146 countries, provides a useful framework for evaluating the seriousness of the harm experienced by bullied LGBTQ youth in the United States. Applying international refugee law, this Article assesses whether the failure of U.S. schools and governments to protect children who are victims of physical and psychological bullying on account of their actual or perceived sexual orientation constitutes a violation of human rights such that were such students to seek asylum in another country they would likely qualify. In order to make this determination, the article assesses whether bullied LGBTQ students in the United States suffer harm severe enough to constitute persecution; whether the persecution occurs on account of the students’ membership in the particular social group of “transgender students and students with actual or perceived lesbian, gay or bisexual sexual orientation”; whether the federal government has refused to provide protection to such students by failing to pass legislation that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, or legislation specifically aimed at protecting LGBTQ students from violence and other forms of severe bullying in schools; and whether individual state and local governments have allowed the persecution of LGBTQ students to proliferate by curtailing, refusing to enforce, or refusing to implement policies aimed at protecting them. The Article concludes with a determination of whether bullied LGBTQ youth in some U.S. locations are victims of state-sponsored or state-permitted human rights violations and provides appropriate recommendations.


October 20, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Trump/Clinton III: No Knockout and the Winner by Decision is . . . ., The Bad Hombre?

477320168 Images


Tonight, the nation saw the third and final debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.  The debate was held at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.  Chris Wallace of Fox News was the moderator.  Here is a complete transcript.

The 90-minute debate started off in a subdued fashion only to heat up in the last hour.  The sniping between the candidates grew increasingly heated.  The candidates frequently talked over one another.  Generally speaking, Clinton spoke substance and Trump had sound-bites and one liners.  In many ways, each candidate played to his or her base.

The first topic was the Supreme Court.  Clinton emphasized that she wants a Court that stands up for individual rights, not those of corporations.  She expressly stated the need to maintain Roe v.Wade and marriage equality.  Trump criticized Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg for her public criticism of Trump.  He promised to appoint Justices who would uphold Second Amendment rights, be pro-life, and would interpret the Constitution according to the framers' intent.  Clinton defended her criticism of the Heller decision and emphasized that, having lived many years in Arkansas, she believed in Second Amendment rights. On abortion, Trump admitted that the appointment of right to life Justices would mean the end of a woman's right to choose (with states being permitted to regulate abortions).  Clinton defended her pro-choice positions and emphasized that government should not be involved in these most difficult personal decisions.

The next topic was immigration.  There was nothing too surprising here except that the discussion got sidetracked into one about Putin and Russia.

Trump criticized any amnesty for undocumented immigrants and repeatedly called for "strong borders."  He mentioned that there were parents in the audience who had children who had been killed by immigrants.  Trump accused Clinton of supporting "open borders."  He said that the nation needed "strong borders" to keep drugs out of the country.  Trump further reiterated his support for the "wall"; with Trump-like flair, he said that we had to get some "bad hombres" out of the country, a reference that was trending after the debate. 

Clinton said that she did not want to destroy families through deportations; she emphasized that is what Trump's "deportation force" would do.  Clinton emphasized that mass deportations would "rip the country apart."  Still, Clinton expressed support for the deportation of violent immigrants.  She said she would introduce a comprehensive immigration reform bill in her first 100 days.  It would include a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants.  Clinton also expressed support for increased border security. 

At a couple of points, Trump seemingly criticized the Obama administration for mass deportations.  Clinton made it clear that she did not support open borders. Chris Wallace quoted a portion of a speech on Wall Street made public by WikiLeaks in which she seems to express support for free movement within a common market similar to the European Union.  Clinton deflected the discussion to blaming Russia's Vladimir Putin for the leak.  A lengthy digression to Russia and Putin sidetracked the debate away from immigration.

The economy was the next topic of the debate.   Both candidates said that they would create more jobs.  Trump said that Clinton's tax plan was a "disaster" and would lead to a massive increase in taxes.  He promised to reduce taxes.  Trump claimed to be a free trader but still would renegotiate NAFTA and get a better deal. 

Fitness to be President?  In some ways, the entire debate touched on this all-important topic.  Chris Wallace asked Trump about the many accusations by numerous women about his conduct toward women.  Clinton attacked Trump for attacking the dignity of the accusers and challenged the nation to make a statement about "who we are as a nation." In a statement that is truly hard to take seriously, Trump said "nobody has more respect for women than I do."  Rather than worry about unsubstantiated allegations, he said that voters should focus on Clinton's missing e-mails.

The sparring continued about the Clinton Foundation, pay for play, etc., with the candidates frequently talking over each other.  At one point, Clinton mentioned that undocumented immigrants -- about half whom pay federal income taxes through use of a Tax Identification Number -- paid more in taxes than Donald Trump.

The following discussion of the debate grabbed the most headlines:  When asked whether he will accept the results of the election, Trump equivocated and said that he would look at what he sees on election day.  Trump said that, because of her criminal activity over many years,  Clinton should not be permitted to run for President.  Clinton criticized Trump for repeatedly claiming that the election was rigged.

Foreign policy was the next topic of discussion. The debate meandered, touching on ISIS, Syria,  Aleppo, Mosul,  a refugee crisis (and, according to Trump, many ISIS-aligned people within our borders).  Clinton said that careful, thorough vetting of any and all refugees but would not allow the nation to turn its back on women and children.

The final topic was the national debt and entitlements.  The candidates talked about ways of reducing the debt.  Among other things, Trump would end Obamacare.

Chris Wallace allowed each candidate to have a one-minute final statement.  Clinton emphasized her desire to reach out to all Americans.  Trump promised that he would make America great again and a country where "illegal immigrants" are not treated better than veterans.   This is what he said precisely: 

“We take care of illegal immigrants — people who come into our country illegally — better than we take care of our vets.”

The factcheckers at the Washington Post stated bluntly that this is an absurd comparison that has received Four Pinocchios.


The first two debates are discussed on the ImmigrationProf blog here and here.


October 19, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hashtags for Tonight's Debate

  Twitter Us-presidential-debate

If you have small children at home, you may feel compelled the skip the televised Presidential debate out of a desire to shield them from hearing what Trump has to say (or, alternatively, how you might react to the content of the debate).  Some Twitter hashtags that can provide an alternate venue to track the debate include #DebateNight and #Debates2016, or, for immigration-specific coverage, #immigration, #fightforfamilies, and #endfamilydetention.


October 19, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Julio Urias, Mexican Athlete, To Become Youngest Pitcher For MLB Postseason Game

"Unsung Heroes" of Georgetown U

Unsung Heroes

Febin Bellamy is a Georgetown University business student, immigrant from India, and founder of the Facebook group Unsung Heroes.

As WaPo reports, Bellamy was inspired to start the group after getting to know a janitor (and fellow immigrant) working at Georgetown. Their connection led Bellamy to "see" previously "invisible" workers across his campus. And he looked for a way to facilitate more student-staff connections.

What Bellamy came up with was a Facebook group where he posts photographs of Georgetown workers alongside their stories (a la HONY).

Many, it turns out, are immigrants.

The shared stories have not only increased communication on campus, but they've led to pretty remarkable fundraisers. For example, students raised several thousand dollars to help a cafeteria cashier return to Southern Sudan to visit family there.

Bellamy has plans to expand Unsung Heroes beyond the Georgetown campus. That, I know, is a campus movement we could all get behind.


October 19, 2016 in Current Affairs, Photos | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cristina Rodriguez on Frameworks for Immigration Reform in a New Administration

The Third, and Final, US Presidential Debate: Clinton versus Trump III, Immigration, Supreme Court on the Agenda

Trump Hillary_Clinton_official_Secretary_of_State_portrait_crop

Tonight, the third presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will be held at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. (For ImmigrationProf posts on the first two debates, click here and here.).  As previously announcedthe topics selected for the debate include Immigration, the Suprreme Court and "fitness to be President."   Fox News host and moderator Chris Wallace selected the topics for the debate. 

To add to the pre-debate hype, Trump for some unknown reason earlier in the week challenged Clinton to take a drug test prior to the debate.   Some might wonder what fuels Trump's vitriol, late night tweets, pacing menacingly around during the town hall, etc.


The debate will be organized into six 15-minute segments covering the debate topics. Both Clinton and Trump will have two minutes to respond to a question and then another chance to respond to their opponent.  The six discussion topics will be

1.  Immigration

2.  Entitlements and debt

3.  The Supreme Court

4.  The economy

5.  Foreign policy

6.  Each candidate's fitness to serve as president.  One could have expected Trump's recent extremely controversial comments about women to come up in this part of the debate.


Stay tuned for a recap of the debate.


October 19, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Digital Humanitarianism: How Tech Entrepreneurs Are Supporting Refugee Integration


One of the lesser examined responses to the massive refugee flows that surged towards Europe beginning in 2015 has been the burst of social and technological innovation that has emerged.

Technology is transforming every stage of the refugee’s journey, from route planning and sharing information along the often arduous trip, to sending distress signals or reuniting with relatives. It also is being harnessed as a tool to identify and register asylum seekers as well as for refugee integration at destination, both for immediate services such as identifying lodging or providing translation and longer-term services such as work opportunities, peer-to-peer lending, or online job-training programs.

A new report from the Migration Policy Institute’s Transatlantic Council on Migration,
Digital Humanitarianism: How Tech Entrepreneurs Are Supporting Refugee Integration, maps the explosion of new tools and initiatives that are being used and how policymakers can better support their development and adoption.

The best established of these innovations, write authors Meghan Benton of MPI and Alex Glennie of Nesta, can be grouped under three general aims: 1) helping newcomers navigate local services; 2) getting them into work or training; and 3) providing access to community-based housing and services. The report finds that many new tools have failed to live up to their promise, however, in part because of extensive duplication in the sector and limited understanding of refugees’ needs.

The authors find that three areas of possible significant impact for technology have received surprisingly little focus: allowing new arrivals to learn in regular classrooms rather than being channeled into remedial classes; providing alternate means of assessing professional expertise and competence; and providing access to credit via alternative finance mechanisms such as crowdfunding.

The report encourages policymakers to channel the streams of innovation by identifying particular problems that could benefit from a tech solution, foster support for the most promising innovations with follow-up funding or incubation support, and invite tech entrepreneurs into integration policy discussions, among other recommendations.

The report is the eighth in a Transatlantic Council series focused on promising practices to promote the longer-term social and economic inclusion of refugees. To read earlier reports in the series, visit here


October 19, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Immigrants and the Importance of Language Learning for a Global Society

A new paper, Immigrants and the Importance of Language Learning for a Global Society,” addresses why language skills are key for immigrants to integrate successfully and contribute fully to our country.  The paper assesses relevant new cross-sector partnerships and focuses on benefits including economic self-sufficiency and contextualized skills training.

Immigrant integration unfortunately is not a focus of many policymakers and political leaders.  Adult ESL programs are often overenrolled and not available to all immigrants who want to learn English.  It would seem that providing tools for immigrant integration is a more effective use of scarce resources than failed efforts to keep immigrants out of the country.


October 18, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

With the Immigration Court's Rocket Docket Many Unrepresented Families Quickly Ordered Deported

Immigration Court records obtained and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) show that a total of 38,601 cases on the court's "rocket docket" involving "adults with children" (AWC) have been decided by immigration judges since July of 2014.

Two years ago the Immigration Courts adopted new docketing practices that gave priority to scheduling of these "AWC" cases involving women and children seeking refuge in this country. This followed the Obama Administration's action seeking to expedite their removal, and was in response to the sudden influx of these families that began during the summer of 2014. This report examines the speed with which these cases have been closed, particularly for families without attorneys to represent them.

According to the case-by-case court data analyzed by TRAC, in 27,015 out of the 38,601 AWC closed cases - or 70 percent -- the family was unrepresented. In the remaining 30 percent or 11,586 cases, the individuals had obtained representation.

Court records also show that it was exceedingly rare for an unrepresented family to file the papers in court needed to even seek asylum or other forms of available relief from deportation. Court records indicate that only 1 in 15 (6.5%) managed to do this without formal representation, despite efforts by a variety of initiatives to try to provide various forms of advice to these families short of formal representation. In contrast, applications for relief were filed by those who were represented in 70 percent of the cases. 

Figure 1. Ordered Removed at Initial Master Calendar Hearing

Further, cases for the 70 percent who were unrepresented were often quickly disposed of. In fact, forty- three percent (43.4%) of unrepresented AWC cases were ordered deported at the initial master calendar hearing.

Click here for more details.



October 18, 2016 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bob Dylan and Immigration

Bob Dylan | via The Guardian

Days ago, Bob Dylan was awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature for "having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition."

When you think Dylan and immigration, it'd be understandable if your mind jumped right to his song "I Pity the Poor Immigrant." There is something interesting about the first lines of that song: "I pity the poor immigrant / Who wishes he would've stayed home." But the next lines suggest that Dylan isn't really thinking about immigrants in the immprof sense: "Who uses all his power to do evil / But in the end is always left so alone." (Although Trump might get behind that reading). I tend to agree with commentators who see the song as being about "if only" people who are never satisfied rather than migrants. 

The line that I think should resonate with immprofs comes from a different tune altogether: Absolutely Sweet Marie. Near the very end of that song, Dylan sings:

But to live outside the law, you must be honest

That line reminds me of a conversation I had with a federal prosecutor. He told me that it seems unbearably hard to be undocumented in the United States: Since undocumented individuals live outside the law, they can never afford to break any other law. They cannot jaywalk or speed or get into a fight. For any interaction with law enforcement has the potential to lead to discovery of a life outside the law.

It's a lyric that just might kickstart some great conversation about undocumented migrants.

Of course, I cannot talk about music without at least providing you a few links.

Here's the Joan Baez version of I Pity the Immigrant:

And here's Absolutely Sweet Marie:


October 18, 2016 in Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dodgers' Adrian Gonzalez refused to stay at Donald Trump's hotel in Chicago


Los Angeles Dodger Adrian Gonzalez made a political statement of sorts in the team's trip to Chicago for the first two games of the National League Championship Series.  The Dodgers won game 2 1-0 on Gonzalez's home run. 

A.J. Perez of USA Today reports that Trump International Hotel and Tower didn’t host the Los Angeles Dodgers on their stay in Chicago for Games 1-2 of the National League Championship Series.  First baseman Adrian Gonzalez had the team find him accommodations. “I didn’t stay there,” Gonzalez told the Southern California News Group. “I had my reasons.” Gonzalez, whose solo homer proved to be the difference in the Dodgers’ NLCS Game 2 victory, did not name Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as the reason he decided to go solo on the trip to the Windy City. “We’re here to play baseball not talk politics,” Gonzalez said.

Trump tower

Trump International Hotel and Tower (Chicago)



October 18, 2016 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)