Tuesday, May 24, 2016

From the Bookshelves: Code Name Zeus by Gary Andersen


Government agencies and sinister organizations in the United States and around the world closely follow the activities in and around the small town of Kursk, Texas. The town and surrounding area, settled by German Russian immigrants in the early 20th century, suffered greatly from the dual impact of the Dust Bowl years and the Great Depression, only to be saved by two strange newcomers from Europe who are great believers in capitalism and the American way of life.

After making a vast fortune starting on the streets of New Orleans, Louisiana, and around Beaumont, Texas, Russian immigrant Robert Barzinsky and his junior partner, Jack Barnett, a native of Ireland, move to Kursk. They ranch, drill for oil, and create a secret project, Code Name: Zeus, where they prepare for a major worldwide disaster.

Barnett’s son, Jack Jr., is the Renaissance man who recruits a team of techies, led by Chip Faraday, to provide the technological evolution to successfully prepare for the eventual destruction of most life on earth. Chip Faraday, his lifelong friend Rick Christiansen, their former professor Dr. Dane Madsen, and a small group of outcasts provide the path to survival.

America is an amalgamation of a great variety of people; initially explorers from Europe and native people, then a wide variety of European settlers and African slaves.  In time, the colonials rebelled against England and built a great nation based on Judeo-Christian principles. Only eighty years after the Declaration of Independence, slavery was abolished. How many countries can make this claim? Today, although not perfect, it is a country of immigrants from virtually every part of the world. Contrary to what some believe, the American experiment has never been matched throughout history.

Code Name: Zeus is a story about immigrants from several countries coming together in a remote place in Texas to make their way as Americans.  They left their grim existences in faraway parts of the world with no assurance they would find success and happiness. The story is an allegory of the broad spectrum of our extended family, from our ancestors to its current makeup, as well as the broad circle of friends we have developed over the years.


May 24, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 20, 2016

Live From MSU: International Norms in Immigration Law

Fullerton, Gilman, Ramji-Nogales, Kanstroom, Family

Our last plenary panel of the today centered on international norms in immigration law.

We started with rapid-fire background material from the panelists.

Jaya Ramji-Nogales (Temple) spoke about international norms and immigration law. She informed us about the four sources of international law: (i) treaties, (ii) customary international law, (iii) general principles of law that recognized by "civilized nations", and (iv) the teachings of the most highly qualified folks on the law (us!). She also talked about the fields of international law that are relevant to migration - principally human rights law, labor law, criminal law. 

Maryellen Fullerton (Brooklyn) talked about the institutions entities involved making international law relating to migration: The UN (which includes the following bodies working on migration: UNHCR, Global Form on Migration and Development, Global Migration Group, ILO, ILC), UN treaty bodies, international courts, regional human rights institutions, and NGOs.

Dan Kanstroom (BC) noted that the United States had a role in the architecture of the international legal system, yet it doesn't really play a positive role in creating international law itself, particular in the human rights aspects of immigration norms.

Denise Gilman (UT) spoke about enforcing international norms. In particular, she talked about using fora like the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to engage the U.S. government and to challenge its immigration practices, for example in regard to family detention, under international law. She also spoke about using international laws as pressure points in litigation.

Dan then returned to stage to talk about international law regarding the expulsion or deportation of noncitizens. There is little explicit international law in this area. The void has allowed the established U.S. system of deportation to be "exported around the world," which Kanstroom sees as a bad thing. He wants progressive international norms put into place. Enter the UN's draft articles on the expulsion of aliens and his own declaration of expelled and deported persons, which he walked us through identifying highlights.

Jaya offered thoughts on the "refugee crisis" and international law. The quotes are hers. She questions whether there is, in fact, a crisis. And whether it's about refugees at all. What she does see is a systemic failure of international migration law to address three critical issues: safe transit, entry, and the right to remain. She wants to see a comprehensive approach to tackle these issues.

Denise emphasized the value of discussing international law in the immigration context, even after acknowledging the enforcability issues and problems with substantive international norms themselves already identified by Dan and Jaya. She sees international law as having the potential to pull us out of the "quagmire" of domestic immigration law by offering new perspectives. 

Maryellen grabbed the baton to bring this panel to a close. She focused on her book The Global Reach of European Refugee Law (Cambridge Univ. Press 2013), which addresses the extent to which EU asylum norms have influenced the law and practice of states around the world ("norm diffusion").

A shout out to Jill Family (Widener) for excellent moderating.


May 20, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs, Law Review Articles & Essays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Immigration Article of the Day: Productivity and Affinity in The Age of Dignity by Stephen Lee


Productivity and Affinity in The Age of Dignity by Stephen Lee,University of California, Irvine School of Law May 5, 2016 The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America, 2015 Michigan Law Review, Vol. 114, No. 6, 2016 UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2016-20

Abstract: Americans are living longer than ever before. Meanwhile, labor studies project a shortage of caregivers in future labor markets. This forces an urgent question: Who will take care of us once we are too old to take care of ourselves? Ai-jen Poo, a nationally recognized activist takes up this question in The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America. Recognizing that a sizable portion of the caregiving workforce is foreign-born and unauthorized, one answer that Poo offers is expanding employment-based visas to manage future migration flows. While embracing Poo’s larger vision of reform, this Review does two things. First, it shows that immigration admission rules are governed by what I call the productivity/affinity binary in which rules reflect a preference for either workers or family members. In this sense, Poo’s vision for reform privileges caregivers for their economic productivity. This leads to this Review’s second goal: to show that gaps in the caregiving labor market might also be filled by expanding family-based migration opportunities. Relying on family-based migration to fill labor gaps both makes intuitive sense given the kind of affinity bonds that often transpire between family members and caregivers and creates a pool of workers that is flexible and responsive to the shifting needs of the caregiving industry.



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

Thursday, May 12, 2016

From the Bookshelves: John Lennon vs. The U.S.A.: The Inside Story of the Most Bitterly Contested and Influential Deportation Case in United States History by by Leon Wildes


John Lennon vs. The U.S.A.: The Inside Story of the Most Bitterly Contested and Influential Deportation Case in United States History by by Leon Wildes (2016)

At a time when the hottest issue in US immigration law is the proposed action by President Obama to protect from deportation as many as 5 million illegals in the United States, the 1972 John Lennon deportation case takes on special relevance today, notwithstanding the passage of forty years since he was placed in deportation proceedings.

For the first time, noted New York immigration attorney Leon Wildes tells the incredible story of this landmark case – John Lennon vs. The U.S.A. -- that set up a battle of wills between John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and President Richard Nixon. Although Wildes did not even know who John Lennon and Yoko Ono were when he was originally retained by them, he developed a close relationship with them both during the eventual five-year period while he represented them and thereafter. This is their incredible story.


May 12, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Art of Ramiro Gomez

Writing about Lhakpa Sherpa earlier today got me thinking about the near-invisibility of certain workers in the United States. And that, in turn, got me thinking about L.A. artist Ramiro Gomez.

Ramiro Gomez, child of undocumented migrants and a former nanny, uses art to, as the Atlantic wrote, "put[] he lives of California’s near-invisible and individually disposable workers front and center." He takes famous paintings and magazine advertisements, and he adds the workers who must behind the images.

Here is "Fred Segal Store, Los Angeles" by Ramiro Gomez (2016). It's Acrylic on canvas, 72 x 72 inches.


If you're in LA, you can see Ramiro's On Melrose collection at the Charlie James Gallery (969 Chung King Road, Los Angeles 90012) through May 28.

Don't live in LA? No worries. You can check out his work in the book Domestic Scenes: The Art of Ramiro Gomez. Put a pin in that one. It looks like quite the present idea for the immprof in your life.


May 11, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 5, 2016

From the Bookshelves: In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero



In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by

The star of Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin presents her personal story of the real plight of undocumented immigrants in this country

Diane Guerrero, the television actress from the megahit Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin, was just fourteen years old on the day her parents and brother (who were visa overstays) were arrested and deported while she was at school. Born in the U.S., Guerrero was able to remain in the country and continue her education, depending on the kindness of family friends who took her in and helped her build a life and a successful acting career for herself, without the support system of her family.

In the Country We Love is a moving, heartbreaking story of one woman's extraordinary resilience in the face of the nightmarish struggles of undocumented residents in this country. There are over 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US, many of whom have citizen children, whose lives here are just as precarious, and whose stories haven't been told. Written with Michelle Burford, this memoir is a tale of personal triumph that also casts a much-needed light on the fears that haunt the daily existence of families like the author's and on a system that fails them over and over.
Click here for a USA Today interview with Guerrero about the book.

May 5, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Throwback Thursday: Michael Walzer

Walzer throwback style

If you haven't read Michael Walzer's 1983 book Spheres of Justice: A Defense of Pluralism and Equality, put it on your summer reading list. I myself am grateful to immprofs Steve Legomsky and David Martin for introducing me to it some years ago.

Walzer is a political theorist and moral philosopher. In Spheres of Justice, he tackles "distributive justice," that is, how goods of every kind can and should be allocated worldwide. 

Chapter two of his book is particularly important for immprofs. It considers "membership" from a distributive justice perspective. The discussion includes assessment of immigration restrictions as justified elements of community building and membership identification. He writes:

The members of a political community have a collective right to shape the resident population...

That right is not unbounded. Walzer outlines obligations owed to current members and "mutual aid" (think refugees).


May 5, 2016 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

From the Bookshelves: The Great Departure: Mass Migration from Eastern Europe and the Making of the Free World by Tara Zahra



The Great Departure: Mass Migration from Eastern Europe and the Making of the Free World by Tara Zahra

Between 1846 and 1940, more than 50 million Europeans moved to the Americas, irrevocably changing both their new homes and the ones they left behind. In this groundbreaking study, Tara Zahra explores the deeper story of this astonishing movement of people—one of the largest in human history.

The great exodus out of Eastern Europe hollowed out villages with dizzying speed. As villages emptied and the fear of depopulation ran rampant, anxiety over “American fever” prevailed, leading to the scapegoating of Jewish emigration agents. Yet others saw vast opportunity: to seed colonies of migrants like the Polish community in Argentina, to gain economic advantage from an inflow of foreign currency, or to reshape their communities in a new land. In the United States, their migration fostered the notion of the “land of the free.” Globally, the policies that gave shape to this migration provided the precedent for future events such as the Holocaust, the closing of the Iron Curtain, and the tragedies of ethnic cleansing.

A sweeping history of the most consequential social phenomenon of the twentieth century, The Great Departure gives poignant attention to the individuals whose lives were transformed by these decades of mass departure, and a keen historical perspective on their continuing legacy.

For a book review and interview with the author in National Geographic, click here.


May 4, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 2, 2016

From the Bookshelves: Strangers at Our Door by Zygmunt Bauman


Strangers at Our Door by Zygmunt Bauman (to be released June 2016)

Refugees from the violence of wars and the brutality of famished lives have knocked on other people's doors since the beginning of time. For the people behind the doors, these uninvited guests were always strangers, and strangers tend to generate fear and anxiety precisely because they are unknown. Today we find ourselves confronted with an extreme form of this historical dynamic, as our TV screens and newspapers are filled with accounts of a 'migration crisis', ostensibly overwhelming Europe and portending the collapse of our way of life. This anxious debate has given rise to a veritable 'moral panic' - a feeling of fear spreading among a large number of people that some evil threatens the well-being of society.

In this short book Zygmunt Bauman analyses the origins, contours and impact of this moral panic - he dissects, in short, the present-day migration panic. He shows how politicians have exploited fears and anxieties that have become widespread, especially among those who have already lost so much - the disinherited and the poor. But he argues that the policy of mutual separation, of building walls rather than bridges, is misguided. It may bring some short-term reassurance but it is doomed to fail in the long run. We are faced with a crisis of humanity, and the only exit from this crisis is to recognize our growing interdependence as a species and to find new ways to live together in solidarity and cooperation, amidst strangers who may hold opinions and preferences different from our own.

Bauman discusses the book and the refugee crisis in the New York Times.


May 2, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

From the Bookshelves: Voices of the Undocumented by Val Rosenfeld and Flor Fortunati


Voices of the Undocumented by Val Rosenfeld and Flor Fortunati

America is in the midst of a daily debate about the issue of undocumented workers. It seems that every day there is another controversy about immigration in the news. Most Americans read these articles and look upon the undocumented immigrants as an undifferentiated block of people. Few seem to truly understand them as individuals, how they got here and their personal stories. This non-fiction book, Voices of the Undocumented, tells the stories of nine undocumented individuals, their struggles as day workers, how their lives are in limbo and their hopes for a better future. This is not a political book. The purpose of these life stories is to give these faceless people a voice.

From the heartbreaking story of Salvador (an illiterate Mexican farm worker who entered the U.S. illegally four times), to Ernesto (an educated Peruvian womanizer), to the amazing accomplishments of Rocío (a graduate of a prestigious university), Voices of the Undocumented relates poignant accounts of the undocumented workers' lives. One must know the stories to truly know the people.

Val Rosenfeld is retired and lives in Los Altos, California.  She has been a volunteer with various organizations and is currently an ESL teacher at the Day Worker Center of Mountain View, California.  She has an MBA degree from the University of Santa Clara and worked in corporate finance for several high-technology companies.

Flor Fortunati lives in Sunnyvale, California.  She is from Buenos Aires, Argentina and is temporarily living in the United States. She is currently a volunteer at the Day Worker Center of Mountain View. She graduated from the Universidad de Buenos Aires with a degree in Chemical Engineering. Before moving to the United Sates in 2013, she worked for various petroleum companies.


April 13, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 7, 2016

A Love Letter to My Clients and Hamilton by Elizabeth Keyes

UB Law immprof Elizabeth Keyes has penned the following:

Barack, Lin-Manuel, Juan. Seeds in the garden planted so long ago by another man who was young, scrappy and hungry and who then accomplished extraordinary things. The first two you know, and there they were free-styling at the White House last month. One, the child of a Kenyan immigrant and an American who became President. The other, the child of Puerto Rican parents who is, so far, a Tony, Grammy and Macarthur genius award winner. But who is Juan, and can’t we get back to Hamilton? (Please?)

Juan is my client. An undocumented immigrant. And Hamilton is his story. Yes, the musical tells a specific story, about a specific man in a different era. But it is a quintessential story of immigration, hunger, and accomplishment, and that story is Juan’s, too. Almost precisely, but for one important difference. I’ll get to that in a moment. (Wait for it.)

With Hamilton, we all fall in love with the characters and the performers and the music in equal measure. But as an immigration lawyer, I also very powerfully felt my heart soar with gratitude and recognition about something much more specific: Here was the story of an immigrant disdained as a “Creole bastard,” being told with unabashed glory and pride. The love and respect that the Hamilton cast show in their narrative is akin to the love and respect that I feel for Juan and so many of my clients who so seldom feel the love and respect from anyone.

From the first song, asking us to spot Hamilton, “another immigrant comin’ up from the bottom” to the show-stopping moment at the Battle of Yorktown where he and Lafayette reconnect and—with deserved pride—nod their heads and say “immigrants…we get the job done,” Hamilton is an immigrant story, featuring the ambitious young person with little more than a “top-notch brain,” who makes his way here and thrives in a land full of opportunity for anyone bold enough to seize it.

Hamilton’s story is helped by the laws of his day. When he arrived in the United States in 1772 or 1773, there was no immigration law that prevented him from coming. He was a British subject, who could travel freely among all parts of the world that Britain controlled—and much beyond it as well, if he wished. When he and Lafayette came, there was no such thing as being “undocumented” or immigrating illegally because there were no such laws to break and no visas to acquire. States had some rules about who could arrive, and sometimes charged fees on arriving passengers, but that was about it until the late 19th century, when we started excluding Asians, then poor people, then LGBT people, and so on and so on.

In his more open era, Hamilton could and did lay immediate claim to his country, shifting from loyal, royal subject to American as easily as he breathed. Ron Chernow, in the biography that inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda to ultimately create Hamilton, writes:

Few immigrants have renounced their past more unequivocally or adopted their new country more wholeheartedly. ‘I am neither merchant nor farmer,’ he now wrote, just a year and a half after leaving St. Croix. ‘I address you because I wish well to my country.’

“My” country. Hamilton claimed America as his, in 1774. As he could. As he was legally able to do.

By 1777, Hamilton became General George Washington’s chief aide-de-camp, and Chernow evokes the power of his transformation of identity:

Once again, the young immigrant had been transported to another sphere…The high-level service completed Hamilton’s rapid metamorphosis into a full-blooded American. The Continental Army was a national institution and helped make Hamilton the optimal person to articulate a vision of American nationalism, his vision sharpened by the immigrant’s special love for his new country.

How does someone metamorphose into a full-blooded American today? Not through valiant service, although for some, that remains a possibility—Margaret Stock, another Macarthur genius award recipient and a senatorial candidate from Alaska, made that connection to the Pentagon when she rapidly pushed through the idea that some immigrants with legal status could acquire citizenship rapidly in exchange for providing valuable military service to the nation. Hamilton’s heirs, certainly.

But for most, there is no metamorphosis available, and that is where Juan’s story differs from Hamilton’s. But what a story his is. Juan came to the U.S. from a place where he just could not get the education he wanted. He had finished high school, and came here in his late teens, intent on getting further. Literally the day after he arrived, he started loading and unloading trucks at a nearby hardware store, earning the precious dollars he needed to go to school. He hasn’t stopped working since, but he also managed to go to community college, and then transfer to a four-year university. No big deal, but he graduated from that university summa cum laude. While studying in a second language. While working full-time. Young, scrappy, hungry…you see it, right? (I’ve written about him before, so see here if you want to read more.)

Being a non-stop person himself, Juan applied to graduate school, and he now goes to a prestigious one on the scholarship he earned from being so danged studious. Like Hamilton, there are a million things he hasn’t done, but just you wait. I expect him to reinvent the world one day, and when he does, I will be so proud to have known him.

But unlike A.Ham claiming citizenship in his new country, Juan cannot. Paths to legal status in the United States are achingly narrow for all, and treacherously easy to fall off. Nowhere is this more true than for people of color living in communities that are over-policed, for immigrants with limited English skills who accept guilty pleas for crimes they may not have committed, without fully understanding the consequences of those pleas. I could go on. But let it suffice to say that there is a deep, sometimes painful, beauty in the immigrant story being told as passionately and evocatively as it is by the richly diverse case of Hamilton, when our enforcement policies today target so many people who look like that cast.

Juan, like many thousands of young people, is too busy studying to get into trouble—until the day he forgets to replace a headlight on their car, gets pulled over by the police in an immigrant-unfriendly town or county, run through an immigration database that may reveal his lack of status, and placed in removal proceedings. If that happens to Juan, I will be there with him, fighting for him. Most immigrants in removal proceedings are not fortunate enough to have a lawyer. They leave, and with their departures we lose people who could have contributed vibrantly to our nation.

Imagine America if Hamilton had been deported for lacking papers. We make all manner of things deportable offenses these days, and it doesn’t matter if everything is “legal in Jersey” if the federal government says, say, dueling is a deportable offense. We would have lost a man who, by the time of his engagement to Eliza Schuyler in 1780, even his future father-in-law recognized as American. Philip Schuyler told Eliza that Hamilton was “the ornament of his country.”

His country. America. A place where even an orphaned immigrant can make a difference. How do we treat these immigrants today? With contempt (sometimes literally). With jail. With life in the shadows. With hope after hope of political accommodation dashed by a Congress which responds to the worst voices of fear, and not the call of Hamilton’s own legacy.

Juan, too, is an ornament of his country, as are the DREAMers who are reinventing our idea of citizenship by claiming their American-ness so forcefully. In this, and in their project of redefining who America is, and who Americans are, they are Hamilton’s heirs. They are the seeds he planted in a garden 250 years ago when he walked off that boat in New York.

As depicted by the brilliant Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton kept searching for ways to do more for the country he loved, and to take advantage of every opportunity this country gave him. Thankfully, people like George Washington judged him for his talent, and not for his place of birth. Might we do the same for young, scrappy, and hungry Juan, and so many like him. If we could see them as Hamilton’s heirs, that would be enough. And if we could reform our laws to let them be the Americans in law that they already are in their hearts, that would be enough. It’s only a matter of time.

April 7, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs, Immigration Law Clinics, Law Review Articles & Essays, Music | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, March 28, 2016

From the Bookshelves: The Illegal by Lawrence Hill

The Illegal by Lawrence Hill

Keita Ali is on the run.

Like every boy on the mountainous island of Zantoroland, running is all Keita’s ever wanted to do. In one of the poorest nations in the world, running means respect. Running means riches—until Keita is targeted for his father’s outspoken political views and discovers he must run for his family’s survival.

Keita escapes into Freedom State—a wealthy island nation that has elected a government bent on deporting the refugees living within its borders in the community of AfricTown. Keita can stay safe only if he keeps moving and eludes the officials who would deport him to his own country, where he would face almost certain death.

This is the new underground: a place where tens of thousands of people deemed to be “illegal” live below the radar of the police and government officials. As Keita surfaces from time to time to earn cash prizes by running local road races, he has to assess whether the people he meets are friends or enemies.

Keita’s very existence in Freedom State is illegal. As he trains in secret, eluding capture, the stakes keep getting higher. Soon, he is running not only for his life, but for his sister’s life, too.

Fast moving and compelling, The Illegal casts a satirical eye on people who have turned their backs on undocumented refugees and urges us to consider the plight of the faceless, the unseen and the forgotten.

The Illegal is published by HarperCollins in Canada and by  WW Norton & Co in the United States.

Click here for a review of The Illegal.


March 28, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 17, 2016

From the Bookshelves: Latinos and Criminal Justice: An Encyclopedia by José Luis Morín, editor


 Latinos and Criminal Justice: An Encyclopedia by José Luis Morín, editor (March 2016)

Although increased Latino immigration is often associated with increased crime, statistics belie that accusation. Immigrants are actually less likely to be involved in crime than citizens, and they have lower incarceration rates than other groups in the population. In fact, "high immigration" states, such as Arizona, have the lowest crime rates in the Union.

This unique compilation of essays and entries provides critical insights into the Latino/a experience with the U.S. criminal justice system.

Concerns about immigration's relationship to crime make accurate information and critical analysis of the utmost importance. Latinos and Criminal Justice: An Encyclopedia promotes understanding of Latinas and Latinos and the U.S. criminal justice system, at the same time dispelling popular misconceptions about this population and criminal activity in the United States.

Unlike a traditional encyclopedia comprised solely of A–Z entries, this work consists of three parts. Part I offers detailed essays on particularly important topics. Part II provides short, A–Z entries, and Part III gives readers access to resources and key public documents. Topics are cross-referenced to enable easy research. Among the wide range of topics covered are policing and police misconduct, incarceration, the war on drugs, gangs, border crime, and racial profiling. Historically important issues and events relative to the Latino experience of criminal justice in the United States are also included, as are key legal cases.


  • Topical essays on issues such as immigrants and crime, drugs, youth, border crime, racial profiling, and prisons
  • Shorter, A–Z entries on a wide range of additional topics
  • A section of key public documents
  • A selected bibliography divided into topic areas


  • Provides vital information at a time when questions and controversies swirl about Latinos in the United States
  • Addresses key areas of concern with respect to Latinos and crime, immigration, drugs, gangs, and police policies and practices in Latino and African American communities
  • Documents the often-forgotten history of Latinos in the United States, from the Greaser Act and zoot-suit riots to the contemporary experience of Latinos facing racial profiling and controversial immigration legislation
  • Contains both long essays that provide context and depth of discussion and shorter essays for quick reference on specific topics
José Luis Morín is professor in the Latin American and Latina/o Studies Department and a member of the faculty in the doctoral program in criminal justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York. Professor Morín is author of Latino/a Rights and Justice in the United States: Perspectives and Approaches and a recipient of many honors and awards, including the 2007 "El Award" for outstanding contribution to the Latino community, presented by the El Diario/La Prensa, the oldest Spanish-language newspaper in the United States.

March 17, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

My Adopted Country: Australia By Erwin Feeken



The year was 1951. At 21 years of age, I had just come out of a personal near-depression with a feeling of non-fulfilment. I was determined to leave Germany for another country for a number of reasons: The lifestyle in Germany did not suit me; my thoughts on life differed from those of most people of my age and I was looking for adventure. So I began applying for migration to various countries, including Canada, Argentina, South Africa, and Australia. Some countries offered particular job opportunities, e.g. Canada for timber cutting. It did not matter what was offered- I just wanted to leave Germany on an assisted passage.

In 1952 the Argentinean Government Consulate in Hannover, Germany, called me to have an interview and a medical examination. I passed, only to be advised a short time later that assisted passage to Argentina had been halted. Later that year I met my future wife, Gerda. We were like-minded. She had already registered for migration to the United States.

During the next 18 months Gerda and I travelled on bicycles or trains, and hitch-hiked through Italy. We became engaged on the Isle of Capri in July 1953. Soon after our return home the Australian Consulate in Bremen informed me that my application for assisted passage to Australia had been approved, subject to satisfactory medical examination and police certificate of conduct. As an afterthought the Consul advised  us to get married before leaving to avoid separation in Australia.

We had to conquer two difficult situations with our parents: We had to tell them that we wanted to get married as soon as possible, which raised eyebrows. When this piece of news was digested, we dared telling them our next plan. Gerda’s parents were shocked- she was their only child, only 21 years old. My parents had four children. While they were disappointed that we both were leaving good permanent employment in Germany, they accepted.

The consulate had indicated to us that we would hear from them within a few weeks. Several months later Gerda and I became impatient at waiting. When I contacted the consulate per telephone, an officer told me, approximately in these words:

There are two seats available on the first migrant plane, due to cancellation. It flies to Sydney in nine days’ time, and you have to tell me right now, over the phone, whether you are prepared to take these two seats and then confirm your decision in writing.”

Without asking Gerda, I agreed to the offer. When I rang her at her workplace and told her the news, she was beside herself. The rush was on.

Hectic activities included resignations from work, visits to taxation and police departments, having wooden boxes constructed for our belongings which included bicycles, books and clothing. The boxes were going to be transported by boat. Personal good byes were limited, there was not enough time.  On 23. July 1954 we walked onto the tarmac towards the silvery gleaming aeroplane, a DC6 aircraft from the Scandinavian Airline System (SAS). We both felt elated beyond belief.

There were about 60 migrants on board. An Australian immigration official, a lady who could speak German, made us feel comfortable. The airline’s program was to fly migrants to Sydney and then proceed to Saigon to pick up wounded soldiers from the Indo-China war front, and return to Europe.

The flight itself was generally pleasant, although there were some arguments and complains by over-excited passengers. We landed in seven destinations: Rome (overnight), Beirut, Karachi (overnight), Bangkok (two overnights), Jakarta, Darwin, and finally Sydney, early in the morning of 27. July 1954. A train transported us to the migrant camp of Bonegilla, on the border of New South Wales and Victoria. This place accommodated us for a month; others left earlier or later, depending on their personal requirements. The accommodation was adequate and we were given a small amount of weekly pocket money. We also had the freedom of leaving the camp on excursions in the neighbouring hills. When work and accommodation was found for us we were given train tickets to return to Sydney where my future job was waiting.  From now on there was no more personal surveillance: We made our way back to Sydney.

Camp Villawood was not to our liking. It provided full board, but under fairly primitive conditions. At first I became labourer with Sydney Metropolitan Water Board, but soon after the friendly staff who asked me about my working background, offered me a job with one of their surveyors as chainman. After six weeks in the hostel Gerda found accommodation in a house in Ryde. We were nine months in Sydney. In that time Gerda found jobs in a biscuit factory, in mirror designs, and in a imitation jewellery workshop. I switched from job to job, being builders labourer, painter and carpenter’s assistant. However, I never left without having another job  lined up.

After swapping several times during the remaining months of 1954, I began to feel guilty of having done so without informing the Immigration Department. One day I visited their office and explained my activities. I was given the assurance that my actions were legal, as long as I let the department know our whereabouts for the two years after our arrival in Australia.

I spent many hours writing applications for jobs in my expertise: Surveying and cartography. In April 1955 I was lucky to be offered a position as survey draftsman with the Hydro-Electric Commission in Hobart, Tasmania. This was the beginning of my professional career. Three months later, our first of five daughters was born.

For seven years we, as a family, moved from p[lace to place, each time improving my professional situation. In 1962 we made our final move: I joined the Bureau of Mineral Resources (now Geoscience Australia). It was to become my major career lasting 25 years, until my voluntary retirement in 1987.

Throughout my working career, we, as a family, used every opportunity to follow Australian explorer’s routes. In 1970, for Captain Cook’s bi-centenary, we published the book entitled The Discovery and Exploration of Australia. Our travels did not end there. We continued, often in the heat of summer, to check out land explorer’s routes and features, and navigator’s landfalls.

Australia in the 21st Century has changed. Over 60 odd years, the population has trebled. It has become a multicultural society. But compared with most countries, the continent is still thinly populated, due in part to its inhospitable desert regions. For people of similar interests to ours, there are still many opportunities to explore. The Australian inhabitant is very approachable, helpful, and friendly, although a little rough on the edges. Australia had become my home forever.                                                              






March 16, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: The New Deportations Delirium Interdisciplinary Responses Edited by Daniel Kanstroom and M. Brinton Lykes


The New Deportations Delirium Interdisciplinary Responses Edited by Daniel Kanstroom and M. Brinton Lykes (NYU Press 2015)

Since 1996, when the deportation laws were hardened, millions of migrants to the U.S., including many long-term legal permanent residents with “green cards,” have experienced summary arrest, incarceration without bail, transfer to remote detention facilities, and deportation without counsel—a life-time banishment from what is, in many cases, the only country they have ever known. U.S.-based families and communities face the loss of a worker, neighbor, spouse, parent, or child. Many of the deported are “sentenced home” to a country which they only knew as an infant, whose language they do not speak, or where a family lives in extreme poverty or indebtedness for not yet being able to pay the costs of their previous migration. But what does this actually look like and what are the systems and processes and who are the people who are enforcing deportation policies and practices? The New Deportations Delirium responds to these questions.
Taken as a whole, the volume raises consciousness about the complexities of the issues and argues for the interdisciplinary dialogue and response. Over the course of the book, deportation policy is debated by lawyers, judges, social workers, researchers, and clinical and community psychologists as well as educators, researchers, and community activists. The New Deportations Delirium presents a fresh conversation and urges a holistic response to the complex realities facing not only migrants but also the wider U.S. society in which they have sought a better life.

March 16, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

From The Bookshelves: The Road to Citizenship: What Naturalization Means for Immigrants and the United States


The Road to Citizenship: What Naturalization Means for Immigrants and the United States by Sofya Aptekar.

Between 2000 and 2011, eight million immigrants became American citizens. In naturalization ceremonies large and small these new Americans pledged an oath of allegiance to the United States, gaining the right to vote, serve on juries, and hold political office; access to certain jobs; and the legal rights of full citizens.

In The Road to Citizenship, Sofya Aptekar analyzes what the process of becoming a citizen means for these newly minted Americans and what it means for the United States as a whole. Examining the evolution of the discursive role of immigrants in American society from potential traitors to morally superior “supercitizens,” Aptekar’s in-depth research uncovers considerable contradictions with the way naturalization works today. Census data reveal that citizenship is distributed in ways that increasingly exacerbate existing class and racial inequalities, at the same time that immigrants’ own understandings of naturalization defy accepted stories we tell about assimilation, citizenship, and becoming American. Aptekar contends that debates about immigration must be broadened beyond the current focus on borders and documentation to include larger questions about the definition of citizenship.

Aptekar’s work brings into sharp relief key questions about the overall system: does the current naturalization process accurately reflect our priorities as a nation and reflect the values we wish to instill in new residents and citizens? Should barriers to full membership in the American polity be lowered? What are the implications of keeping the process the same or changing it? Using archival research, interviews, analysis of census and survey data, and participant observation of citizenship ceremonies, The Road to Citizenship demonstrates the ways in which naturalization itself reflects the larger operations of social cohesion and democracy in America.

Sofya Aptekar is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts Boston.


March 8, 2016 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 7, 2016

From the Bookshelves: A Promising Problem: The New Chicana/o History Edited by Carlos Kevin Blanton


A Promising Problem:  The New Chicana/o History

Edited by Carlos Kevin Blanton

In this collection of innovative, thought-provoking essays, established and emerging scholars consider the sea changes taking place within Chicana/o scholarship, the shifting racial and political boundaries of Chicana/o communities, and new perspectives on America’s culture wars.

Chicana/o history has reached an intriguing juncture. While academic and intellectual studies are embracing new, highly nuanced perspectives on race, class, gender, education, identity, and community, the field itself continues to be viewed as a battleground, subject to attacks from outside academia by those who claim that the discipline promotes racial hatred and anti-Americanism. Against a backdrop of deportations and voter suppression targeting Latinos, A Promising Problem presents the optimistic voices of scholars who call for sophisticated solutions while embracing transnationalism and the reality of multiple, overlapping identities.

Showcasing a variety of new directions, this anthology spans topics such as growth and reassessment in Chicana/o history manifested in a disruption of nationalism and geographic essentialism, the impact of legal history, interracial relations and the experiences of Latino subpopulations in the US South, race and the politics of religious history, transborder feminism in the early twentieth century, and aspirations for a field that increasingly demonstrates the relational dynamics of cultural production. As they reflect on the state of their field, the contributors offer significant insights into sociology, psychology, anthropology, political science, education, and literature, while tracing the history of activism throughout the last century and debating the very concepts of “Chicano” and “Chicano history.” Although the political landscape is fraught with closed-off rhetoric, A Promising Problem encourages diversity of thought and opens the possibilities of historical imagination.

Table of Contents

Chapter One. Looking In while Stepping Out: Growth, Reassessment, and the Promising Problem of the New Chicana/o History (Carlos Kevin Blanton)

Chapter Two. The Accidental Historian; or, How I Found My Groove in Legal History (Michael A. Olivas)

Chapter Three. Moving beyond Aztlán: Disrupting Nationalism and Geographic Essentialism in Chicano/a History (Lilia Fernandez)

Chapter Four. Chicana/o History as Southern History: Race, Place, and the US South (Perla M. Guerrero)

Chapter Five. Sacred Spaces: Race, Resistance, and the Politics of Chicana/o and Latina/o Religious History (Felipe Hinojosa)

Chapter Six. Chicanas in the US-Mexican Borderlands: Transborder Conversations of Feminism and Anarchism, 1905–1938 (Sonia Hernández)

Chapter Seven. Eastside Imaginaries: Toward a Relational and Transnational Chicana/o Cultural History (Luis Alvarez)

Select Bibliography of Recent Publications in Chicana/o History


March 7, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 6, 2016

From the Bookshelves: The Integration of Immigrants into American Societyby Mary Waters and Marisa Gerstein Pineau, editors (2015)


The Integration of Immigrants into American Society by Mary Waters and Marisa Gerstein Pineau, editors.  National Academy Press, 2015

The United States prides itself on being a nation of immigrants, and the country has a long history of successfully absorbing people from across the globe. The integration of immigrants and their children contributes to our economic vitality and our vibrant and ever changing culture. We have offered opportunities to immigrants and their children to better themselves and to be fully incorporated into our society and in exchange immigrants have become Americans - embracing an American identity and citizenship, protecting our country through service in our military, fostering technological innovation, harvesting its crops, and enriching everything from the nation's cuisine to its universities, music, and art.

Today, the 41 million immigrants in the United States represent 13.1 percent of the U.S. population. The U.S.-born children of immigrants, the second generation, represent another 37.1 million people, or 12 percent of the population. Thus, together the first and second generations account for one out of four members of the U.S. population. Whether they are successfully integrating is therefore a pressing and important question. Are new immigrants and their children being well integrated into American society, within and across generations? Do current policies and practices facilitate their integration? How is American society being transformed by the millions of immigrants who have arrived in recent decades?

To answer these questions, this new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine summarizes what we know about how immigrants and their descendants are integrating into American society in a range of areas such as education, occupations, health, and language.


March 6, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

From the Bookshelves: Making Immigrant Rights Real Nonprofits and the Politics of Integration in San Francisco by Els de Graauw


Making Immigrant Rights Real Nonprofits and the Politics of Integration in San Francisco by Els de Graauw, Cornell University Press, Hardcover, Coming soon

More than half of the 41 million foreign-born individuals in the United States today are noncitizens, half have difficulty with English, a quarter are undocumented, and many are poor. As a result, most immigrants have few opportunities to make their voices heard in the political process. Nonprofits in many cities have stepped into this gap to promote the integration of disadvantaged immigrants. They have done so despite notable constraints on their political activities, including limits on their lobbying and partisan electioneering, limited organizational resources, and dependence on government funding. Immigrant rights advocates also operate in a national context focused on immigration enforcement rather than immigrant integration. In Making Immigrant Rights Real, Els de Graauw examines how immigrant-serving nonprofits can make impressive policy gains despite these limitations.

Drawing on three case studies of immigrant rights policies—language access, labor rights, and municipal ID cards—in San Francisco, de Graauw develops a tripartite model of advocacy strategies that nonprofits have used to propose, enact, and implement immigrant-friendly policies: administrative advocacy, cross-sectoral and cross-organizational collaborations, and strategic issue framing. The inventive development and deployment of these strategies enabled immigrant-serving nonprofits in San Francisco to secure some remarkable new immigrant rights victories, and de Graauw explores how other cities can learn from their experiences.


March 2, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

From the Bookshelves: Crossing the Line: A Marriage Across Borders by Linda Valdez


Crossing the Line: A Marriage Across Borders  by Linda Valdez

Not a typical immigration story, Crossing the Line is told by a middle-class American woman who falls in love with the son of an impoverished family from rural Mexico—a man who crosses the border illegally to be with her.

Married in 1988, Linda and Sixto Valdez learn to love each other’s very different families and cultures, raising their child to walk proudly in both worlds.

Revealing the tragedies and ultimately the triumphs that emerge when two families living on different sides of the border come together, Crossing the Line cuts through the fears and preconceptions that fuel the continuing political turmoil over immigration. It is a story America needs to hear. 

A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing in 2003, Linda Valdez is a columnist and editorial writer at the Arizona Republic/azcentral.com. She has written extensively about immigration and border issues. Her commentary opposing Arizona’s infamous anti-immigration laws earned her the Scripps Howard Walker Stone Award for editorial writing in 2011.


February 24, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)