Tuesday, August 9, 2016

From the Bookshelves: Strangers in Our Midst: The Political Philosophy of Immigration by David Miller


Strangers in Our Midst: The Political Philosophy of Immigration by David Miller

It is not unusual for people in countries with limited job opportunities and economic resources to want to seek a better life in different lands. This is especially so for those who come from countries where they are treated poorly, discriminated against, or worse. But moving from one country to another in large numbers creates serious problems for receiving countries as well as those sending them.

How should Western democracies respond to the many millions of people who want to settle in their societies? Economists and human rights advocates tend to downplay the considerable cultural and demographic impact of immigration on host societies. Seeking to balance the rights of immigrants with the legitimate concerns of citizens, Strangers in Our Midst brings a bracing dose of realism to this debate. David Miller defends the right of democratic states to control their borders and decide upon the future size, shape, and cultural make-up of their populations.

Reframing immigration as a question of political philosophy, he asks how democracy within a state can be reconciled with the rights of those outside its borders. A just immigration policy must distinguish refugees from economic migrants and determine the rights that immigrants in both categories acquire, once admitted. But being welcomed into a country as a prospective citizen does more than confer benefits: it imposes responsibilities. In Miller’s view, immigrants share with the state an obligation to integrate into their adopted societies, even if it means shedding some cultural baggage from their former home.

Matt Lister concludes his review of Strangers in Our Midst with the following:

Miller has written an important book, one that provides a clear statement of an important prospective. It provides perhaps the best systematic argument for states having the right to set their own immigration policies. Furthermore, by insisting on taking the opinions of the public seriously, Miller leads us to reconsider and reevaluate many views widely held by both theorists of immigration and activists. Yet, the solutions to the problems discussed in the book aren’t clear, and I have tried to give some reason to think that Miller’s preferred solutions aren’t fully plausible. It’s possible that there is no fully satisfactory solution to some of these problems, and we will be left in the end with a degree of ad-hoc balancing. Those seeking to do the weighing of different values, however, would be well served to read Miller’s careful and thoughtful book.

UPDATE (9/7):  For another review, click here.


August 9, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 5, 2016

2014 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics: Removal Numbers -- A Latino Removal System?


Jennifer Koh posted a link to the 2014 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, which was recently released by the Department of Homeland Security.    Over the next week or so, I will highlight some of the data that I find interesting in the 2014 Yearbook.

I first looked at removals, which many immigrant rights advocates claim to be enforced in a discriminatory fashion.  Table 41 on page 113 includes statistical information about "Aliens Removed by Criminal Status and Country of Nationality:  Fiscal Years 2005 to 2014."

I looked at 2013 and 2014.  In 2014, there were 414, 561 removals, a drop from 435,498 in 2013. 

In 2014, 167,740 of the removals were for criminal and 246,741 were non-criminal.  403,656, or 97.7 percent, of the removals were from North America.  275,911 were from Mexico, 26,685 from El Salvador, 54,153 from Guatemala, and 40, 560 from Honduras; these four countries constitute 91.2 percent of the total persons removed.

It is hard to declare definitively that the removal system is skewed without knowing the statistics about noncitizens who might be eligible for removal. Still, the fact that Latinos comprise well over 90 percent of removals, and constitute significantly smaller percentages of all lawful permanent resident and undocumented immigrant populations in the United States, should make us pause to wonder why Latinos are overrepresented in removals.




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

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

From the Bookshelves: Legal Protection of the Sinking Islands Refugees by Cosmin Corendea

Refugee book

Legal Protection of the Sinking Islands Refugees by Cosmin Corendea

Starting from the question of how international law may protect the Pacific people from climate change, this book represents the original development of the international hybrid law concept, as the basic legal study of climate change from the environmental, human rights and refugee perspectives. From 2007 to 2012, the research conducted in the Pacific demonstrated that the most affected people by the gaps of international law are the vulnerable ones whose adaptation options are limited or exhausted, and are facing displacement. In this individual context of the Pacific islands, the book analysis the most important documents, relevant institutions and (political) actors, offering the readers, including students, the most appropriate legal analysis of the climate change impacts in the Pacific. The 2015 Paris Agreement, by recognizing human rights and human mobility in the context of climate change, confirms the hybrid legal approach described in this book as one of the future solutions in identifying and addressing international legal gaps by placing the people affected by climate change in the center of the discussion.

Dr. Cosmin Corendea works as Associate Academic Officer/Legal Expert at the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security.



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

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

From the Bookshelves: Enduring Uncertainty: Deportation, Punishment and Everyday Life (Dislocations) by Ines Hasselberg



Enduring Uncertainty: Deportation, Punishment and Everyday Life (Dislocations) by Ines Hasselberg

Focusing on the lived experience of immigration policy and processes, this volume provides fascinating insights into the deportation process as it is felt and understood by those subjected to it. The author presents a rich and innovative ethnography of deportation and deportability experienced by migrants convicted of criminal offenses in England and Wales. The unique perspectives developed here – on due process in immigration appeals, migrant surveillance and control, social relations and sense of self, and compliance and resistance – are important for broader understandings of border control policy and human rights.

Here is what a London School of Economics and Political Science book review had to say about Enduring Uncertainty:

 "Hasselberg’s book is an important contribution at a time when migration to Europe is being widely discussed. While politicians and tabloids steer this debate to suit their own agendas, large aspects of the increasingly punitive migration policies in the UK remain out of public sight. By choosing foreign national prisoners and their families as her research participants, Hasselberg is not only offering them a voice, but also telling a different and undoubtedly more complex story about citizenship and belonging in Britain today."


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

Monday, July 11, 2016

From the Bookshelves: What Incoming Freshman Are Reading

Photo by Sam Greenhalgh

Universities around the country have assigned summer reading to their incoming freshman class. And, as Inside Higher Ed reports, many of the books chosen relate to immigration.

That's a great list for any immprof to tackle over the last weeks of summer.


July 11, 2016 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Immigrant of the Day: Luis Enrique, Singer (Nicaragua)


Luis Enriqueis a Nicaraguan-born singer and composer. He attended high School in Whittier, California, near Los Angeles. He started his career in the late 1980s and achieved success in the 1990s earning the title "El Príncipe de la Salsa" (The Prince of Salsa). Enrique was a pioneer in the salsa romántica movement of the 1980s. He received two Grammy Award-nomination for "Best Tropical Latin Performance" for album Luces del Alma and his song Amiga. In 2009, his album, Ciclos, was nominated for numerous Latin Grammy Awards. The album won the Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Album.

Enrique immigrated to the United States in 1978  He will be sharing his story as an undocumented immigrant in the United States in an upcoming book, Enrique will tell of his personal journey from Nicaragua to making a home in L.A. He was undocumented for about 10 years. 



July 10, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs, Film & Television, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Immigrant of the Day: Vladimir Nabokov (Russia)


Vladimir Nabokov (1899–1977) was a Russian-American novelist. His first nine novels were in Russian, and he achieved international prominence after he began writing English prose. His most famous book Lolita (1955) was also controversial.

Nabokov immigrated in New York.  He joined the staff of Wellesley College in 1941 as resident lecturer in comparative literature. The position, created specifically for him, provided an income and free time to write creatively. Nabokov founded Wellesley's Russian Department.

In 1945, Nabokov became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

Nabokov left Wellesley in 1948 to teach Russian and European literature at Cornell University, where he taught until 1959. Among his students at Cornell was future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who later identified Nabokov as a major influence on her development as a writer.

Nabokov wrote Lolita while travelling on butterfly-collection trips in the western United States that he undertook every summer. In June 1953 Nabokov and his family went to Ashland, Oregon. There he finished Lolita.


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

Thursday, June 16, 2016

From the Bookshelves: Anna O. Law Review of MAKING FOREIGNERS: IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP LAW IN AMERICA, 1600-2000 by Kunal M. Parker

Anna O. Law reviews MAKING FOREIGNERS: IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP LAW IN AMERICA, 1600-2000, by Kunal M. Parker in Law and Politics Review.  She concludes:

"One may have quibbles with how Parker makes his arguments, but one cannot contest that the book lays out a provocative new thesis that deserves serious discussion and engagement. In light of MAKING FOREIGNERS, Emma Lazarus’ “New Colossus” poem sounds downright mawkish. The borders were never open to all. And even for those born in the USA, they were not automatically insiders, and worse yet, one could at some point in one’s lifetime lose one’s insider status. Ultimately the book is a rebuke to the still persistent myth that circulates even among scholars today, not to mention the general public, that in the days of yore, this nation of immigrants had open borders, and once “in,” you were home free."

Making Foreigners is previewed here.



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

Monday, June 13, 2016

From the Bookshelves: In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park


In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park

Yeonmi Park has told the harrowing story of her escape from North Korea as a child many times, but never before has she revealed the most intimate and devastating details of the repressive society she was raised in and the enormous price she paid to escape.

Park’s family was loving and close-knit, but life in North Korea was brutal, practically medieval. Park would regularly go without food and was made to believe that, Kim Jong Il, the country’s dictator, could read her mind. After her father was imprisoned and tortured by the regime for trading on the black-market, a risk he took in order to provide for his wife and two young daughters, Yeonmi and her family were branded as criminals and forced to the cruel margins of North Korean society. With thirteen-year-old Park suffering from a botched appendectomy and weighing a mere sixty pounds, she and her mother were smuggled across the border into China.

I wasn’t dreaming of freedom when I escaped from North Korea. I didn’t even know what it meant to be free. All I knew was that if my family stayed behind, we would probably die—from starvation, from disease, from the inhuman conditions of a prison labor camp. The hunger had become unbearable; I was willing to risk my life for the promise of a bowl of rice. But there was more to our journey than our own survival. My mother and I were searching for my older sister, Eunmi, who had left for China a few days earlier and had not been heard from since.

Park knew the journey would be difficult, but could not have imagined the extent of the hardship to come. Those years in China cost Park her childhood, and nearly her life.  By the time she and her mother made their way to South Korea two years later, her father was dead and her sister was still missing. Before now, only her mother knew what really happened between the time they crossed the Yalu river into China and when they followed the stars through the frigid Gobi Desert to freedom. As she writes, “I convinced myself that a lot of what I had experienced never happened. I taught myself to forget the rest.”

In In Order to Live, Park shines a light not just into the darkest corners of life in North Korea, describing the deprivation and deception she endured and which millions of North Korean people continue to endure to this day, but also onto her own most painful and difficult memories. She tells with bravery and dignity for the first time the story of how she and her mother were betrayed and sold into sexual slavery in China and forced to suffer terrible psychological and physical hardship before they finally made their way to Seoul, South Korea—and to freedom.

Still in her early twenties, Yeonmi Park has lived through experiences that few people of any age will ever know—and most people would never recover from. Park confronts her past with a startling resilience, refusing to be defeated or defined by the circumstances of her former life in North Korea and China. In spite of everything, she has never stopped being proud of where she is from, and never stopped striving for a better life. Indeed, today she is a human rights activist working determinedly to bring attention to the oppression taking place in her home country.

Park’s testimony is rare, edifying, and terribly important, and the story she tells in In Order to Live is heartbreaking and unimaginable, but never without hope. Her voice is riveting and dignified. This is the human spirit at its most indomitable. 



Park became an international sensation in October of 2014 after delivering an emotional and engaging speech at the One Young World Summit in Dublin, Ireland. Ms. Park describes her harrowing escape from the repressive North Korean regime and how she persisted in her quest to freedom even when captured by human traffickers in China.

USCIS recently recognized that Yeonmi Park is an individual of extraordinary ability in the field of activism for North Korean human rights and granted her petition for a green card.  


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

Saturday, June 4, 2016

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

NBC News reports that, as the nation celebrates Immigrant Heritage Month, Arizona journalist Linda Valdez tells the story of how she, a daughter of a middle-class family from Ohio, fell in love, married and has made a life with Sixto Valdez, the son of a family of 14 children who grew up poor in a rural town in Mexico.

Their love story is chronicled in Valdez's book Crossing the Line: A Marriage Across Borders. She writes that she was talked into going on vacation to Mexico with her mother in 1988. As it turned out, the trip led to her meeting Sixto, who later crossed the border illegally from Mexico to be with her.

Her book, Crossing the Line: A Marriage Across Borders (2015), is not the typical immigration story.  It 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.


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

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)