Tuesday, November 10, 2015

From the Bookshelves: Violetta Armour, I'll Always Be With You


Violetta Armour holds family close to her heart, a concept she hopes to share in her new book I’ll Always Be With You.” Drawing from her own experience as a first-generation American with Bulgarian roots, Armour tells the story of Teddy, a young boy who has lost his father and finds comfort in a book his great-grandfather carried with him to America. Through this life-changing book, Teddy embraces his origins and finds the peace of mind he’s been looking for. “I’ll Always Be With You” offers insight into the trials of facing racial tensions and prejudices while encouraging the celebration of culture and traditions.


November 10, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Book Review: Ingrid Eagly on Crimmigration Law by César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández


Book Review: Crimmigration Law by César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, the American Bar Association 2015, 281 pages by Ingrid V. Eagly

Crimmigration Law, published by the American Bar Association earlier this year, is the first text book dedicated to exploring the connection between immigration law and criminal law in the United States. The book’s author, César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, is one of the leading scholars in a growing field that studies the increasing merger of criminal justice and migration control. This new field, sometimes referred to as “crimmigration law,” reflects the on-the-ground reality of changes in law and practice that have blurred the lines between criminal and immigration enforcement. The immigration system is increasingly relying on criminal mechanisms, such as detention in prisons and jails, to enforce the immigration law. At the same time, the criminal system now plays a central role in adjudicating immigration status, including detecting noncitizens subject to deportation and advising defendants on the immigration consequences of criminal convictions.

Crimmigration Law makes a grand entry as a foundational text. The book not only familiarizes readers with some of the key debates about immigration enforcement and the criminalization of migration, but it also provides an on-the-ground primer to the thorny doctrinal law that practitioners of immigration and criminal law must master. On the immigration law side, García Hernández shows his readers how deportation can result from criminal conduct or criminal convictions, and how detention is a tool that is increasingly being used to expand the deportation system. On the criminal law side, García Hernández reveals how immigrants face punitive sanctions in both the state and federal criminal justice systems for conduct such as unlawful entry into the country or possession of false documents. He also has an excellent chapter on the Sixth Amendment obligation of criminal defense counsel to advise noncitizens as to the potential immigration consequences of a guilty plea. Each chapter is supplemented by an informative bibliography of additional reading on the topic.

Readers of Crimmigration Lawwill benefit from the book’s thoughtful inclusion of practice-based problems that require application of the law to a realistic set of facts. For example, after discussing the important topic of how to defend against deportation (known as relief from removal), García Hernández presents readers with a detailed problem asking whether an immigrant convicted of burglary and married to a United States citizen could potentially qualify for adjustment of status (and thereby avoid deportation). Through immediate application, readers have the opportunity to practice what they just learned—and thereby deepen their understanding. These practical problems are further supplemented by helpful “practice pointers” that highlight the ways in which a practitioner should think about applying the book’s lessons in advising clients and litigating cases.

In sum, Crimmigration Law is a must-read for law students and practitioners seeking an introduction to the complex legal doctrine and practice challenges at the merger of immigration and criminal law. The text offers in one concise volume an overview of the most critical topics in both civil and criminal enforcement of immigration law. Thank you to García Hernández for this important contribution, which provides a valuable training tool for defenders of immigrant rights.

Ingrid Eagly is a Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law and Faculty Director of the David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law & Policy.



October 22, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 19, 2015

From the Bookshelves: We Too Sing America South Asian, Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future by Deepa Iyer


We Too Sing America South Asian, Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future by Deepa Iyer (The New Press, 2015)

The nationally renowned racial justice advocate shines a light on an unexplored consequence of modern-day terrorism: the ongoing, state-sanctioned persecution of a range of American minorities.

Many of us can recall the targeting of South Asian, Arab, Muslim, and Sikh people in the wake of 9/11. We may be less aware, however, of the ongoing racism directed against these groups in the past decade and a half.

In We Too Sing America, nationally renowned activist Deepa Iyer catalogs recent racial flash points, from the 2012 massacre at the Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, to the violent opposition to the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and to the Park 51 Community Center in Lower Manhattan.

Iyer asks whether hate crimes should be considered domestic terrorism and explores the role of the state in perpetuating racism through detentions, national registration programs, police profiling, and constant surveillance. She looks at topics including Islamophobia in the Bible Belt; the “Bermuda Triangle” of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim hysteria; and the energy of new reform movements, including those of “undocumented and unafraid” youth and Black Lives Matter.

In a book that reframes the discussion of race in America, a brilliant young activist provides ideas from the front lines of post-9/11 America.


October 19, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 18, 2015

From the Bookshelves: The Economics of Immigration Market-Based Approaches, Social Science, and Public Policy by Benjamin W. Powell


The Economics of Immigration Market-Based Approaches, Social Science, and Public Policy by Benjamin W. Powell

Few topics in current affairs are as contentious as immigration. Yet despite the controversies, social scientists who study immigration largely agree about its effects, whatever differences they may have about how a nation should change its policies. Their findings, however, have been buried in academic journals accessible only to other scholars—until now.

With the publication of The Economics of Immigration: Market-Based Approaches, Social Science, and Public Policy, edited by Benjamin Powell, readers can now easily access the substance of the vast scholarly literature about a subject that touches millions of lives.

Combining rigor and readability, The Economics of Immigration offers important findings and bold ideas that will appeal to a variety of readers. General readers who absorb its lessons will be well equipped to dispel widespread myths about the effects of immigration. Policymakers and pundits will be struck by its non-partisan tone, and its clear-headed proposals capable of bridging the political divide. And scholars will appreciate the book’s reviews of numerous studies, all in one volume.

Part I summarizes and evaluates the literature on immigration and wages, employment, economic growth, government spending and revenues, cultural and civic assimilation, and work visas, with each chapter assessing the strengths and weaknesses of various studies, highlighting the best scholarship currently available, and discerning the overall scholarly consensus on each topic.

Part II features policy recommendations. These include a “market-based” approach designed to improve efficiency, fairness, and economic growth; a “pro-assimilation” approach that would reduce immigration but legalize immigrants who are in the United States illegally; and a “radical” case for an open borders, which draws on moral principles of various philosophical traditions as well as empirical research. The book concludes with the editor’s assessments of proposals put forth by six influential scholars.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
Benjamin Powell

Part I: Social Science

2. The Economic Effects of International Labor Mobility
Peter Leeson and Zachary Gochenour
3. The Fiscal Impact of Immigration
Alex Nowrasteh
4. The Civic and Cultural Assimilation of Immigrants to the United States
Jacob Vigdor
5. Employment VISAs: An International Comparison
Alexandre Padilla and Nicolás Cachanosky

Part II: Public Policy

6. Immigration Reform: A Modest Proposal
Richard Vedder
7. Immigration’s Future: A Pathway to Legalization and Assimilation
Herbert London
8. A Radical Case for Open Borders
Bryan Caplan and Vipul Naik
9. Conclusion: Alternative Policy Perspectives
Benjamin Powell


October 18, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 12, 2015

From the Bookshelves: Buying a Bride: An Engaging History of Mail-Order Matches by Marcia A. Zug

Buying a bride

Buying a Bride:  An Engaging History of Mail-Order Matches by Marcia A. Zug, NYU Press 2015 

There have always been mail-order brides in America—but we haven’t always thought about them in the same ways. In Buying a Bride, Marcia A. Zug starts with the so-called “Tobacco Wives” of the Jamestown colony and moves all the way forward to today’s modern same-sex mail-order grooms to explore the advantages and disadvantages of mail-order marriage. It’s a history of deception, physical abuse, and failed unions. It’s also the story of how mail-order marriage can offer women surprising and empowering opportunities.

Drawing on a forgotten trove of colorful mail-order marriage court cases, Zug explores the many troubling legal issues that arise in mail-order marriage: domestic abuse and murder, breach of contract, fraud (especially relating to immigration), and human trafficking and prostitution. She tells the story of how mail-order marriage lost the benign reputation it enjoyed in the Civil War era to become more and more reviled over time, and she argues compellingly that it does not entirely deserve its current reputation. While it is a common misperception that women turn to mail-order marriage as a desperate last resort, most mail-order brides are enticed rather than coerced. Since the first mail-order brides arrived on American shores in 1619, mail-order marriage has enabled women to improve both their marital prospects and their legal, political, and social freedoms. Buying A Bride uncovers this history and shows us how mail-order marriage empowers women and should be protected and even encouraged.

Here is my review:

Buying a Bride is a history book like few others, a carefully-documented critical analysis of mail order marriages from the days of the Jamestown colony to modern times. The reader learns that mail order brides once were viewed positively -- and as an preferred alternative to colonists marrying Indian women. Later, mail order brides from the East helped settle the Western frontier, with mail order bride "expeditions" bringing women to California Marcia Zug persuasively and carefully demonstrates how throughout American history, conceptions of larger national imperatives, namely settlement of the frontier, marriage, and race deeply influenced American society's views of mail order brides. The changes have resulted in the radical transformation of the generally positive public opinion of such marital arrangements before the Civil War and increasingly negative views of the practice through to today. The public perception of the mail order brides changed, from the courageous woman embarking on a new life of opportunity to the modern conception of a mail order bride as an abused woman living in misery. Not coincidentally, today's modern mail order bride, especially immigrants from nations in Asia and the developing world, are viewed in very different ways than those of previous historical eras.

From a feminist perspective, Zug concludes that, despite significant risks, mail order marriages are typically beneficial and even liberating for women. Buying a Bride offers fresh new insights to anyone interested in love and marriage, race and immigration, and the fundamental transformation of American social life over the last 300 years.


October 12, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Refugees at Our Door

In the New York Times, author of the award winning book Enrique's Journey, Sonia Nazario, writes about how the United States is paying Mexico to keep Central Americans fleeing violence from reaching our border: 

"In the past 15 months, at the request of President Obama, Mexico has carried out a ferocious crackdown on refugees fleeing violence in Central America. The United States has given Mexico tens of millions of dollars for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 to stop these migrants from reaching the United States border to claim asylum.

Essentially the United States has outsourced a refugee problem to Mexico that is similar to the refugee crisis now roiling Europe. . . .

I went to Mexico last month to see the effects of the crackdown against migrants, who are being hunted down on a scale never seen before and sent back to countries where gangs and drug traffickers have taken control of whole sections of territory."


Photo by Kate Orlinsky courtesy of the New York Times


October 12, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

From the Bookshelves: Terrorizing Latina/o Immigrants Race, Gender, and Immigration Politics in the Age of Security by Anna Sampaio


Terrorizing Latina/o Immigrants Race, Gender, and Immigration Politics in the Age of Security by Anna Sampaio

Immigration politics has been significantly altered by the advent of America’s war on terror and the proliferation of security measures. In her cogent study, Terrorizing Latina/o Immigrants, Anna Sampaio examines how these processes are racialized and gendered and how they impose inequitable burdens on Latina/o immigrants. She interrogates the rise of securitization, restrictive legislation, and the return of large-scale immigration raids and describes how these re-articulate and re-inscribe forms of racial and gender hierarchy.

Terrorizing Latina/o Immigrants demonstrates how the ascendance of America as a security state serves as a template to scrutinize, harass, and encumber immigrants while also reconfiguring citizenship. Sampaio uses intersectional analysis coupled with theoretical and empirical approaches to develop a critical framework for analyzing current immigration politics.

Sampaio provides a sustained and systematic examination of policy and enforcement shifts impacting Latinas/os. Her book concludes with an examination of immigration reform under the Obama administration, contrasting the promise of hope and change with the reality of increased detentions, deportations, and continued marginalization.


1. Reconfiguring Race and Gender in the War on Terrorism

2. Masculinist Protectionism, Racialized Demonization, and the Formation of the Contemporary Security Regime

3. Racialization of Latinas/os within American Immigration Law and Policy

4. Securitizing Immigration Legislation

5. Terrorizing Immigrants: The Return of Large-Scale Raids and Roundups and Their Impact on Latina/o Communities

6. Security and Citizenship: “Enemy Combatants” and the Cases of John Walker Lindh, Yaser Hamdi, and José Padilla

7. The End of Terror? A New Administration and a New Chapter in Immigration Politics


October 10, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Professor Karima Bennoune Appointed as United Nations Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights


I am pleased to report that the United Nations Human Rights Council has appointed my colleague Professor Karima Bennoune as its Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights. In her role as Special Rapporteur, Professor Bennoune will make official visits to countries; observe and report on the promotion and protection of cultural rights at the local, national, regional and international levels; identify possible obstacles to the promotion and protection of cultural rights and make recommendations to the Council on possible actions; and present reports to the Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly.

Professor Bennoune's book, Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here, won the 2014 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for nonfiction. Released in August 2013, the book addresses resistance to fundamentalism in Muslim majority contexts. The field research for this book took Karima to many countries, including Afghanistan, Egypt, Israel/Palestine, Mali, Niger and Russia.  The TED talk based on the book, “When people of Muslim heritage challenge fundamentalism,” has received more than 1.3 million views.


October 8, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Book Review: Dream Chasers: Immigration and the American Backlash by John Tirman

Dream chasers

Dream Chasers: Immigration and the American Backlash
by John Tirman, The MIT Press 2015, 230 pages

In eight tight chapters, John Tirman’s Dream Chasers sparks a fresh look at an issue that continues to dominate the airwaves and print media. Anyone struggling to come to grips with immigration reform will gain insight from this thoughtful book, which sheds light on the nuances about immigration that hide behind the headlines.

The title of the book plays on what John Tirman sees as the competing “dreams” of America: immigrant dreams of opportunity and freedom; and the vision of many Americans who demand immigrant linguistic, cultural, and other assimilation. As the contrasting dreams suggest, the book views the immigration debate as part of “an epic culture clash.” : “The rejectionists who are particularly vociferous about the cultural wounds they think illegal immigration visits upon the United States, are the same rejectionists on health-care reform, measures to deal with climate change, financial sector reform, economic stimulus, and so on.”

Ably capturing the national divide over immigration in the modern United States, Dream Chasers demonstrates that the issue goes well beyond law and race. Over the course of eight concise chapters, Tirman, executive director of MIT’s Center for International Studies, summarizes the economic, cultural, legal, and political considerations implicated in the modern debate over immigration.

The book opens by comparing the “Great Migration” (1910 to 1970) of African Americans from the South to the Northeast, Midwest, and West to today’s “Second Great Migration” of Mexican and Central American immigrants to the United States. A later chapter provides an overview of the history that has shaped outmigration from Mexico and Guatemala. Economic opportunity in the United States (combined with limited avenues for lawful immigration), poverty in their homelands, and violence (especially brutal and widespread for decades in Guatemala) have fueled migration from those countries. In addition, U.S. foreign policy, from political support for anti-communist leaders to the promotion of global capitalism (and the United Fruit Company), played an important role in creating the political, economic, and social circumstances contributing to the pressures for migration from Latin America.

Dream Chasers also looks at Arizona’s toxic political climate surrounding immigration, with the state starting a national trend with its extreme immigration enforcement law known as SB 1070. Tirman views the battle over ethnic studies in the Tucson public schools as a “culture clash …, at root, about the enormous flow of immigrants across the US-Mexico border.” Put simply, the ethnic studies controversy is a minor skirmish in the war over Latino immigration.

Tirman then reviews immigration enforcement through the examination of the U.S. government’s immigration raid of a textile factory in New Bedford, Massachusetts, “a struggling … city of immigrants.” (p. 68). In the raid, federal authorities arrested hundreds of workers—the majority who were women from Guatemala—and created a humanitarian crisis when many of their children who were U.S.-born citizens, returned from school or day care to find homes without a parent. Activists, lawyers, a Catholic Church (Our Lady of Guadalupe), and state and local governments responded to the aftermath of the raid, which was followed with the detention of those arrested out of state where many had no access to lawyers.

After describing the excesses of contemporary immigration enforcement, Dream Chasers considers the possibilities for reform. Chapter 4 offers fresh analysis of the coming of age of the DREAMers, college students brought to this country by their parents, and their creation of a cohesive, independent, and powerful political movement. They became the “poster children ... high school valedictorians, star athletes, and soldiers” for immigration reform, pushing for passage of the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act. They “make visible the hidden, make appeals for justice, plead that the raids and deportations stop, advocate for plausible solutions.” They have become nothing less than the nation’s immigration conscience. The DREAMers’ political movement helped bring about a major reform measure implemented by President Obama, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in 2012 (as well as its proposed expansion in 2014).

In analyzing the contemporary politics of immigration reform, Tirman observes that “reform has focused resolutely on the racial characteristics of those seeking entry.” Most reform proposals call for increased immigration enforcement (despite record numbers of removals), expanded legal immigration, and a path to legalization (and perhaps citizenship) for undocumented immigrants. The last component of most comprehensive reform proposals—the much-maligned “amnesty”—is the most contested.

Tirman also examines legal terminology (including “alien” and “illegal alien”), and the English language as “cultural weapons” in the immigration debate. He critically analyzes Samuel P. Huntington’s 2004 book Who Are We?, which identifies Hispanic immigration as a cultural threat to the United States and avoids the expressly race-based claims recently voiced by, among others, Ann Coulter and Donald Trump.

The concluding chapter is refreshingly optimistic, mentioning hopeful signs for immigration reform. Immigrants today are a part of popular culture in the United States, featured in music, books, and television shows. Public opinion at times appears to be open to possible reforms sympathetic to immigrants. In fact, some major cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City have embraced pro-immigrant policies.  However, as the United States has seen in recent months, major events, such as the controversy last summer over the release of an undocumented immigrant by the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office who later allegedly killed a woman, the public at various historical moments supports vigorous immigration enforcement measures.   

Lawyers might want to see more discussion of the law, justice, and fairness in Dream Chasers, all which are important to the debates over immigration reform. Although I might quibble some with parts of the analysis, such as the parallel drawn between Spanish use among Latinos and Ebonics among African Amercans, Tirman generally thoughtfully analyzes in a sober, balanced fashion the contemporary debates over immigration reform.

Review by Kevin R. Johnson

October 7, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Should Immigration Require Assimilation?


Image from Wikipedia (The Melting Pot)

In Should Immigration Require Assimilation? in The Atlantic,  Tom Gjelten excerpts part of his new book, A Nation of Nations: A Great American Immigration Story dealing with immigrant assimilation.  He  poses the question as follows:  Every year, unique people—each with their own cultural history—become new citizens of the United States. Must they leave their own heritage behind?

The alleged failure of assimilation of immigrants has often been offered at various times in U.S. history as a rationale for restricting immigration.  Samuel Huntington in his controversial book Who Are We?  The Challenges to America's National Identity (2005)  contends that the large wave of immigration has not fully assimilated into American social life but behaves as a separatist bloc of sorts -- maintaining a separate language, culture, religion, work ethic, etc.  Click here for criticism of that kind of approach to immigration through the lens of Latino Americans.


October 5, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

America’s Potential: The Next 50 Years of the 1965 Immigration Act


America’s Potential: The Next 50 Years of the 1965 Immigration Act

To mark 50 years since the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 became law, the National Immigration Forum held a conversation with distinguished speakers to discuss the law’s continuing impact and what the future holds. For those that were unable to join us live, watch and share the event video.

Panelists: Tom Gjelten, National Public Radio correspondent and Author, A Nation of Nations: A Great American Immigration Story

Mary C. Waters, M.E. Zukerman Professor of Sociology, Harvard University

Mee Moua, President and Executive Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC)

Fernand Amandi, Principal, Bendixen and Amandi International

Moderator: Maria Teresa Kumar, President and CEO, Voto Latino

Opening remarks: Ali Noorani, Executive Director, National Immigration Forum


September 29, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 28, 2015

From the Bookshelves: The New Immigration Federalism by Pratheepan Gulasekaram and S. Karthick Ramakrishnan

New immigration federalism



The New Immigration Federalism by Pratheepan Gulasekaram and S. Karthick Ramakrishnan

Since 2004, the United States has seen a flurry of state and local laws dealing with unauthorized immigrants. Though initially restrictionist, these laws have recently undergone a dramatic shift toward promoting integration. How are we to make sense of this new immigration federalism? What are its causes? And what are its consequences for the federal-state balance of power? In The New Immigration Federalism, Professors Pratheepan Gulasekaram and S. Karthick Ramakrishnan provide answers to these questions using a mix of quantitative, historical, and doctrinal legal analysis. In so doing they refute the popular “demographic necessity” argument put forward by anti-immigrant activists and politicians. Instead, they posit that immigration federalism is rooted in a political process that connects both federal and subfederal actors: the Polarized Change Model. Their model captures not only the spread of restrictionist legislation but also its abrupt turnaround in 2012, projecting valuable insights for the future.

--  A historical overview of US immigration law provides essential context for current policy patterns

--  An empirical 'Polarized Change Model' provides a new model for understanding the interaction of state and national policies

--  Discredits the popular conservative argument that demographic factors drive anti-immigration laws


September 28, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015



Photo courtesy of Hispanic Heritage Month.gov

During National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15), we recognize the contributions made and the important presence of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States and celebrate their heritage and culture.

Hispanics have had a profound and positive influence on our country through their strong commitment to family, faith, hard work, and service. They have enhanced and shaped our national character with centuries-old traditions that reflect the multiethnic and multicultural customs of their community.

Hispanic Heritage Month, whose roots go back to 1968, begins each year on September 15, the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile and Belize also celebrate their independence days during this period and Columbus Day (Día de la Raza) is October 12.

President Obama issued this proclamation yesterday on Hispanic Heritage Month.



September 15, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs, Film & Television, Music, Religion, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 3, 2015

From the Bookshelves: A Nation of Nations: A Great American Immigration Story by Tom Gjelten


In A Nation of Nations: A Great American Immigration Story, veteran NPR correspondent Tom Gjelten assesses the impact and importance of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act by interweaving the stories of a handful of immigrant families with the history and analysis of the immigration changes in America as a whole.

As the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Act approaches this October, immigration continues to be a hot-button issue in American politics.  When the law was passed, fewer than 5 percent of Americans were foreign-born. Today, immigrants make up nearly 14 percent of the U.S. population, and the composition of the foreign-born population has changed dramatically. The 1965 Act abolished the national-origin quotas that favored immigrants from Europe and discriminated against all others. The United States, for the first time, became a country that officially welcomed people of all nationalities.

In the decades since, America’s founding myth of openness has been tested. Prior to 1965, three out of four immigrants came from Europe, and the country’s cultural character reflected its Anglo-Saxon roots. As Gjelten writes, “The evident premise of U.S. immigration law was that the explanation for America’s success in the world actually lay in its European heritage, not in its history as a country shaped by enterprising newcomers.” Fifty years after passage of the 1965 Act, nine out of ten immigrants are coming from other parts of the world, including Vietnam, Korea, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Mexico, Central America, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and many other places previously unrepresented. As one of the last—and most important—acts of the civil-rights era, the 1965 Act forced a new consideration of the U.S. national identity. By committing to a multicultural heritage, America took a thrilling gamble, betting heavily on its own resilience. As Gjelten writes in the prologue:

“The immigrant influx set up a belated test of America’s character and identity. Was its strength and resilience a result of its formation as ‘not merely a nation but a teeming nation of nations,’ as Walt Whitman said? Or were its achievements actually due to its Anglo-Saxon heritage? That aspect of American society was fast diminishing in relative importance, replaced by unprecedented racial and ethnic diversity. The country had not yet dared to see whether it could live up to its motto, E pluribus unum, ‘Out of many, one’ (an expression that referred originally to the thirteen colonies coming together as one state). As last, America could find out whether it was truly an exceptional nation and what it really meant to be American.” 

 This story unfolded with particular drama in some communities, notably one suburban county in northern Virginia that experienced a lifetime of change in a few short years, as immigrants arrived from all over the world. As late as 1970, foreign-born residents in Fairfax County made up less than one percent of the population. By 2010, one out of four county residents was an immigrant, and more than 100 languages were represented in the county school system.

 Gjelten’s narrative portrays in rich detail five immigrant families fromAsian, Arab, and Latin American countriesas they settle into Fairfax County and struggle to find and embrace the values that bind them to their new homeland and make them fully American. 

 Mark Keam and Alex Seong Keam both came from impoverished backgrounds in South Korea but both took advantage of educational opportunities in the United States and became successful lawyers. Along the way, they observed the tensions that sometimes surface in the relations between immigrants and other minority groups. Mark was a political activist and, with his wife’s support, became the first Asian immigrant elected to the Virginia state legislature. His career demonstrated the political clout of the new immigrant population.

 Esam Omeish and his siblings arrived in the United States with their parents from Libya. Though the family was not especially religious in Libya, they became devout Muslims in America. Esam, who became a prominent lay leader of the Muslim community in northern Virginia, credited a U.S. climate of openness and freedom and was determined to show that a commitment to Islam is not incompatible with a fervent U.S. patriotism.

 The Alarcón family immigrated from Bolivia, spurred by the family matriarch who taught her daughters and their husbands to plan their futures carefully and plot a way to reach their destination. “When you start out poor, you are better than others at rising up,” she counseled. And rise up they did, learning new skills and trades with the help of instructional books they borrowed from their local library. 

 The families profiled in A Nation of Nations are illustrative of the immigration experience across America and their stories incorporate many immigrant themes, including friction between minorities, the drive to compete and create, and the burdens associated with racial and cultural stereotyping.

Among the characters in this epic story are the politicians and pundits who debated for years whom the country should welcome, the African American activists who overcame segregation only to face competition from new immigrant neighbors, and the government officials who had to design services for a population of various languages, faiths, and colors.

 Gjelten shares many notable insights on the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act, including:


 The 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act has received far less attention than the Civil Rights Act or the Voting Rights Act, which were approved around the same time, but its passage has proved to be one of the most nation-changing events in American history.  By eliminating national origin quotas, which heavily favored European immigration, the 1965 Act opened the door to visa applicants from around the world on a non-discriminatory basis.  In the fifty years after its enactment, the foreign-born share of the U.S. population tripled and shifted dramatically in composition. 

  • Critics of the 1965 immigration reform objected that it would shift the immigration flow, in the words of one senator, “from those European countries that contributed most to the formation of this nation to the countries of Asia and Africa.” Supporters insisted no such shift would ensue from the reform, but in this case the critics’ predictions were closer to the mark. In 1960, three out of four immigrants were from Europe. By 2010, nine of ten immigrants were from non-European countries.  


  • As a U.S. senator, Lyndon B. Johnson supported the McCarran-Walter Act, which severely restricted immigration from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East through the use of national origin quotas. By contrast, Sen. John F. Kennedy was an outspoken opponent of the quota system. But it was Johnson, not Kennedy, who as president made the elimination of national origin quotas a top legislative priority, and Johnson’s strong support was key to passage of the 1965 Act.


  • Some conservatives today decry the 1965 Act, arguing in hindsight that it produced more immigration than the country could handle. But much of that influx stemmed from an amendment of the original reform proposal, introduced at the time in deference to conservative wishes. Advocates of the national origin quota system agreed to support the 1965 reform only after “family unification” rather than “employability” was made the top immigration goal. The conservatives’ expectation was that by giving preference to those immigrants with U.S. relatives, the existing ethnic profile of the U.S. population would be preserved. Instead, the “family unification” preference gave rise to the phenomenon of chain migration, which in subsequent years became responsible for the vast majority of new non-European immigrants.


  • The 1965 Act was passed as part of the Great Society program and had the support of liberal Democrats in the U.S. Congress. But the Democratic Party at the time also included a large number of conservative southerners, while the Republican Party included many northern moderates and liberals. Proportionally, more Republicans than Democrats supported the 1965 legislation.


  • The shift from European to non-European immigration in the fifty years after the 1965 Act was reinforced by changes in the international economic and political order. Europe was experiencing economic growth and prosperity, so Europeans were less motivated to migrate. Violent conflict and political unrest in the developing countries, meanwhile, were pushing more people to leave home and seek better lives elsewhere. At the same time, improvements in global communication and transportation networks were making migration an increasingly practical option. Secretary of State Dean Rusk in 1965 chose not to highlight those global trends when he downplayed the prospect of “a world situation where everybody is just straining to move to the United States.”


  • The prevalence of chain migration in the post-1965 years resulted in new settlement patterns. Previously, immigrants were more likely to move en masse from their native countries and settle in enclaves with others of their national background, often in urban areas. More recent immigrants, however, tended to arrive family by family and choose their destinations more deliberately. Many settled in suburbanneighborhoods, attracted by good schools, employment opportunities, and greater security. The result was a more diverse pattern of settlement.


  • Post-1965 immigration numbers from Asia and Africa tell a dramatic story. In 1960, barely 11,000 Koreans lived in the U.S. By 2000, the number was 864,000.  The number of native Pakistanis in the United States jumped during the same period from 1,700 to 223,000. Immigration from India during those forty years increased from about 17,000 to more than one million. In the forty years prior to 1965, fewer than 40,000 people from all of Africa were admitted to the United States as immigrants. Over the next forty years, the number of African immigrants legally resident in the United States rose to 1.4 million.


  • The elimination of national origin quotas in U.S. immigration policy was seen at the time as a civil rights achievement and came in the context of the civil rights movement. The influx of immigrants that followed coincided with the expansion of opportunities for black Americans in education, housing, and employment. In places like Fairfax County, Virginia, where racial segregation had been the rule, this created some conflict. No sooner had black residents won a measure of justice than they found themselves competing for scarce resources with newly arriving immigrants.


  • The influx of non-European immigrants after 1965 had political as well as social implications, though in diverse ways. A quarter of economically active Korean immigrants are self-employed, giving them a special stake in debates about taxation and business regulation. Immigrants from Muslim countries are more likely to have conservative views when it comes to such social issues as same-sex marriage and abortion. Indians, the most highly-educated immigrant group, are over-represented in professional and technical circles, with higher than average incomes, and GOP leaders see the group as a natural constituency.


September 3, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: The Human Rights of Children in an Age of Mobility by Karen E. Bravo


The Human Rights of Children in an Age of Mobility by Karen E. Bravo, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law August 22, 2015, 37 Human Rights Quarterly 787 (2015)

Abstract: This Essay reviews Jacqueline Bhabha, Child Migration & Human Rights in a Global Age (Princeton, 2014), ISBN 978-0-6911-4360-6, 374 pages.

Jacqueline Bhabha offers a rich and thought-provoking analysis of child migration flows, presenting historical and current cases of child migration, applicable legal frameworks, fundamental principles of child human rights, and procedural or administrative instruments that affect child migrations. She discusses movement for family reunification purposes, as refugees seeking sanctuary, as victims of exploitation such as human trafficking and recruitment as child soldiers, and autonomous migration in search of a better live.

This Essay identifies and summarizes the key themes of and questions raised by Bhabha, and offers critiques of the volume’s failure to address the structural causes of state inhospitality or to engage with the threat that states perceive from the unsanctioned and unregulated flow of mobile humanity.


September 3, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 31, 2015

From the Bookshelves: Mama's Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation by Edwidge Danticat


Mama's Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation by Edwidge Danticat 

Release date:  September 1, 2015

A touching tale of parent-child separation and immigration, from a National Book Award finalist

After Saya's mother is sent to an immigration detention center, Saya finds comfort in listening to her mother's warm greeting on their answering machine. To ease the distance between them while she’s in jail, Mama begins sending Saya bedtime stories inspired by Haitian folklore on cassette tape. Moved by her mother's tales and her father's attempts to reunite their family, Saya writes a story of her own—one that just might bring her mother home for good. With stirring illustrations, this tender tale shows the human side of immigration and imprisonment—and shows how every child has the power to make a difference.

Danticat was born in Haiti. When she was two, her father immigrated to New York, to be followed two years later by her mother Rose.  This left Danticat and her younger brother to be raised by her aunt and uncle. Although her formal education in Haiti was in French, she spoke Haitian Creole at home. While in Haiti, Danticat began writing. At age 12, she moved to Brooklyn to join her parents in a heavily Haitian American neighborhood. Edwidge's disorientation to her new surroundings was a source of discomfort for her, and she turned to literature for solace.


August 31, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 28, 2015

From the Bookshelves: History of the Muslims of Regina, Saskatchewan, and Their Organizations by Naiyer Habib & Mahlaqa Naushaba Habib


History of the Muslims of Regina, Saskatchewan, and Their Organizations by Naiyer Habib & Mahlaqa Naushaba Habib (2015)

Canada is home to immigrants from many cultures. Unlike times past, when newcomers from a foreign country seemed to want to blend in with their new culture as soon as possible, more recent immigrants want to become a part of their new home but retain some of the elements of their native cultures. This is a task that is often easier to talk about than to accomplish. History of the Muslims of Regina, Saskatchewan, and Their Organizations: Islamic Association, CCMW and MPJ represents the struggle and success of authors and editors Naiyer Habib and Mahlaqa Naushaba Habib. When they immigrated to Canada in 1973, they wanted to preserve their culture and religion for themselves as well as for future Muslim generations. The Culture in their new home was much different than theirs. It was the time when literature on Islam or Islamic culture was hard to find in English, so it was difficult for their new neighbors to learn about them. Through Islamic organizations begun by the Habibs and others in the Muslim community, whose stories are shared in this book, they introduced Islam and Muslims to Regina, while still holding on to their culture, but integrating with society at large. History of the Muslims of Regina, Saskatchewan, and Their Organizations: Islamic Association, CCMW and MPJ demonstrate it is not always easy to incorporate a familiar culture in a new home. But with hard work and willingness of all cultures involved to learn from each other, it can be done successfully.

Naiyer Habib was a respected Cardiologist, researcher and medical administrator in Regina, Saskatchewan, until 2004 before retiring in 2011 in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada where he leads semiretired life. Mahlaqa Naushaba Habib completed her Master’s degree in Political science. She became her husband’s office manager until their retirement. They have served the Muslim community for approximately three decades. They are currently working on their memoir.


August 28, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Doubling Down on Racial Discrimination: The Racially Disparate Impacts of Crimmigration Law

I have a post on CASETEXT.com based on a longer article.  The U.S. immigration removal system targets noncitizens who are involved in criminal activity. Relying on state and local police action, which many claim is racially biased due to such practices as racial profiling, the U.S. government removes nearly 400,000 noncitizens a year, with more than 95 percent from Mexico and Latin America (even though the overall immigrant population is much more diverse). State and local governments have resisted some of the federal government’s aggressive removal efforts through “sanctuary laws,” which are designed to build the trust in immigrant communities necessary for effective law enforcement by local police. Reforms in the immigration laws are necessary to reduce the racially disparate impacts of reliance on the criminal justice system for immigration removals.


August 24, 2015 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 21, 2015

From the Bookshelves: Whose Child Am I? Unaccompanied, Undocumented Children in U.S. Immigration Custody by Susan J. Terrio


Whose Child Am I? Unaccompanied, Undocumented Children in U.S. Immigration Custody by Susan J. Terrio, University of California Press, May 2015

In 2014, the arrest and detention of thousands of desperate young migrants at the southwest border of the United States exposed the U.S. government's shadowy juvenile detention system, which had escaped public scrutiny for years. This book tells the story of six Central American and Mexican children who are driven from their homes by violence and deprivation, and who embark alone, risking their lives, on the perilous journey north. They suffer coercive arrests at the U.S. border, then land in detention, only to be caught up in the battle to obtain legal status. Whose Child Am I? looks inside a vast, labyrinthine system by documenting in detail the experiences of these youths, beginning with their arrest by immigration authorities, their subsequent placement in federal detention, followed by their appearance in deportation proceedings and release from custody, and, finally, ending with their struggle to build new lives in the United States. This book shows how the U.S. government got into the business of detaining children and what we can learn from this troubled history.


August 21, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

From the Bookshelves: The Making of Asian America: A History by Erika Lee

 The Making of Asian America The Making of Asian America

The Making of Asian America:   A History by Erika Lee

The definitive history of Asian Americans by one of the nation’s preeminent scholars on the subject.In the past fifty years, Asian Americans have helped change the face of America and are now the fastest growing group in the United States. But as award-winning historian Erika Lee reminds us, Asian Americans also have deep roots in the country. The Making of Asian America tells the little-known history of Asian Americans and their role in American life, from the arrival of the first Asians in the Americas to the present-day.

An epic history of global journeys and new beginnings, this book shows how generations of Asian immigrants and their American-born descendants have made and remade Asian American life in the United States: sailors who came on the first trans-Pacific ships in the 1500s; indentured “coolies” who worked alongside African slaves in the Caribbean; and Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, and South Asian immigrants who were recruited to work in the United States only to face massive racial discrimination, Asian exclusion laws, and for Japanese Americans, incarceration during World War II.  Over the past fifty years, a new Asian America has emerged out of community activism and the arrival of new immigrants and refugees. No longer a “despised minority,” Asian Americans are now held up as America’s “model minorities” in ways that reveal the complicated role that race still plays in the United States.

Published to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the passage of the United States’ Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 that has remade our “nation of immigrants,” this is a new and definitive history of Asian Americans. But more than that, it is a new way of understanding America itself, its complicated histories of race and immigration, and its place in the world today.


August 18, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)