Sunday, December 8, 2013
From the Bookshelves: Immigration, Poverty, and Socioeconomic Inequality, David Card & Steven Raphael, Editors
The rapid rise in the proportion of foreign-born residents in the U.S. since the mid-1960s is one of the most important demographic events of the past fifty years. The increase in immigration, especially among the less-skilled and less-educated, has prompted fears that the newcomers may have depressed the wages and employment of the native-born, burdened state and local budgets, and slowed the U.S. economy as a whole. Would the poverty rate be lower in the absence of immigration? How does the undocumented status of an increasing segment of the foreign-born population impact wages in the U.S.? In Immigration, Poverty and Socioeconomic Inequality, noted labor economists David Card and Steven Raphael and an interdisciplinary team of scholars provide a comprehensive assessment of the costs and benefits of the latest era of immigration to the U.S.
Immigration, Poverty and Socioeconomic Inequality rigorously explores shifts in population trends, labor market competition, and socioeconomic segregation to investigate how the recent rise in immigration affects economic disadvantage in the U.S.
Giovanni Peri analyzes the changing skill composition of immigrants to the U.S. over the past two decades to assess their impact on the labor market outcomes of native-born workers. Despite concerns over labor market competition, he shows that the overall effect has been benign for most native groups. Moreover, immigration appears to have had negligible impacts on native poverty rates.
Ethan Lewis examines whether differences in English proficiency explain this lack of competition between immigrant and native-born workers. He finds that parallel Spanish-speaking labor markets emerge in areas where Spanish speakers are sufficiently numerous, thereby limiting the impact of immigration on the wages of native-born residents. While the increase in the number of immigrants may not necessarily hurt the job prospects of native-born workers, low-skilled migration appears to suppress the wages of immigrants themselves.
Michael Stoll shows that linguistic isolation and residential crowding in specific metropolitan areas has contributed to high poverty rates among immigrants. Have these economic disadvantages among low-skilled immigrants increased their dependence on the U.S. social safety net?
Marianne Bitler and Hilary Hoynes analyze the consequences of welfare reform, which limited eligibility for major cash assistance programs. Their analysis documents sizable declines in program participation for foreign-born families since the 1990s and suggests that the safety net has become less effective in lowering child poverty among immigrant households.
As the debate over immigration reform reemerges on the national agenda, Immigration, Poverty and Socioeconomic Inequality provides a timely and authoritative review of the immigrant experience in the United States. With its wealth of data and intriguing hypotheses, the volume is an essential addition to the field of immigration studies.
DAVID CARD is Class of 1950 Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley. STEVEN RAPHAEL is professor of public policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley.
Saturday, December 7, 2013
From the Bookshelves: Our Lost Border: Essays on Life Amid the Narco-Violence edited by Sergio Troncoso & Sarah Cortez
Our Lost Border: Essays on Life Amid the Narco-Violence edited by Sergio Troncoso & Sarah Cortez, foreword by Rolando Hinojosa
In his essay lamenting the loss of the Tijuana of his youth, Richard Mora remembers festive nights on Avenida Revolución, where tourists mingled with locals at bars. Now, the tourists are gone, as are the indigenous street vendors who sold handmade crafts along the wide boulevard. Instead, the streets are filled with army checkpoints and soldiers armed with assault rifles. “Multiple truths abound and so I am left to craft my own truth from the media accounts—the hooded soldiers, like the little green plastic soldiers I once kept in a cardboard shoe box, are heroes or villains, victims or victimizers, depending on the hour of the day,” he writes.
With a foreword by renowned novelist Rolando Hinojosa and comprised of personal essays about the impact of drug violence on life and culture along the U.S.-Mexico border, the anthology combines writings by residents of both countries. Mexican authors Liliana Blum, Lolita Bosch, Diego Osorno and María Socorro Tabuenca write riveting, first-hand accounts about the clashes between the drug cartels and citizens’ attempts to resist the criminals. American authors focus on how the corruption and bloodshed have affected the bi-national and bi-cultural existence of families and individuals. Celestino Fernández and Jessie K. Finch write about the violence’s effect on musicians, and María Cristina Cigarroa shares her poignant memories of life in her grandparents’ home—now abandoned—in Nuevo Laredo.
In their introduction, editors Sarah Cortez and Sergio Troncoso write that this anthology was “born of a vision to bear witness to how this violence has shattered life on the border, to remember the past, but also to point to the possibilities of a better future.“ The personal essays in this collection humanize the news stories and are a must-read for anyone interested in how this fragile way of life—between two cultures, languages and countries—has been undermined by the drug trade and the crime that accompanies it, with ramifications far beyond the border region.
Friday, December 6, 2013
From the Bookshelves: The DREAMers How the Undocumented Youth Movement Transformed the Immigrant Rights Debate by Walter J. Nicholls
The DREAMers How the Undocumented Youth Movement Transformed the Immigrant Rights Debate by Walter J. Nicholls, Stanford University Press 2013
On May 17, 2010, four undocumented students occupied the Arizona office of Senator John McCain. Across the country a flurry of occupations, hunger strikes, demonstrations, and marches followed, calling for support of the DREAM Act that would allow these young people the legal right to stay in the United States. The highly public, confrontational nature of these actions marked a sharp departure from more subdued, anonymous forms of activism of years past. The DREAMers provides the first investigation of the youth movement that has transformed the national immigration debate, from its start in the early 2000s through the present day.
Walter Nicholls draws on interviews, news stories, and firsthand encounters with activists to highlight the strategies and claims that have created this now-powerful voice in American politics. Facing high levels of anti-immigrant sentiment across the country, undocumented youths sought to increase support for their cause and change the terms of debate by arguing for their unique position—as culturally integrated, long term residents and most importantly as "American" youth sharing in core American values. Since 2010 undocumented activists have increasingly claimed their own space in the public sphere, asserting a right to recognition—a right to have rights.
Ultimately, through the story of the undocumented youth movement, The DREAMers shows how a stigmatized group—whether immigrants or others—can gain a powerful voice in American political debate.
Walter J. Nicholls earned his Ph.D. at the University of California, Los Angeles, and is now Assistant Professor of Sociology and the University of Amsterdam.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Review of THE SOVEREIGN CITIZEN – DENATURALIZATION AND THE ORIGINS OF THE AMERICAN REPUBLIC by Patrick Weil
Anna O. Law (CUNY Brooklyn) reviews THE SOVEREIGN CITIZEN – DENATURALIZATION AND THE ORIGINS OF THE AMERICAN REPUBLIC by Patrick Weil. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012. The review begins as follows:
"French social scientist Patrick Weil has written a book that focuses on a seemingly minor aspect of U.S. immigration law: denaturalization policy, or the process by which one loses one’s American citizenship. Weil uses denaturalization policy as a vehicle to comment on other aspects of the American politics, most immediately the arbitrariness and politically contingent nature of one’s United States citizenship status, not just of immigrants, but also of native-born citizens. Weil notes that “Present –day Americans feel secure in their citizenship” (p.1). One comes away from the book having new appreciation for the precariousness of one’s U.S. citizenship and the ease at points in U.S. history when the government can arbitrarily revoke one’s citizenship, thereby possibly rendering even a native-born citizen effectively stateless."
Monday, December 2, 2013
From the Bookshelves: Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Wrecked the Middle Class by Ian Haney-Lopez
The decades-long increase in income inequality has become perhaps 'the' issue in American politics, and scholars have offered many reasons for why the gap between the rich and the rest has widened so much since the mid-1970s. Most of the explanations have been social and political in the broadest sense, and many have keyed on the propensity of middle- and working class Americans to vote against their own interest. Yet given that the greatest income divide is racial in nature, why have so few looked toward racially motivated behavior as a cause? Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Wrecked the Middle Class is a sweeping account of how 'dog-whistle' racial politics contributed to increasing inequality in America since the 1960s. Now a pervasive term in American political coverage, 'dog whistle' refers to coded signals sent to certain constituencies that only those constituencies will understand. Just as only dogs can hear a dog whistle, only a constituency fluent in a subterranean argot can understand that argot when it is used. For instance, attacks on Obama's use of a teleprompter is a dog whistle for racist voters who question blacks' (and by extension, the President's) intelligence.
Haney's book looks at racial dog whistles in America from the 1960s to the present, showing that their appeal has helped generate working class and middle class populist enthusiasm for policies that were actually injurious to their own interests. The dog whistle tactic has been with us from at least the era of George Wallace, but every candidate who has benefited from race-based resentments has used it: Nixon, Reagan (welfare queens), George Bush I (Willie Horton), Bill Clinton (Sister Souljah), and-most recently-Newt Gingrich.
A sweeping reinterpretation of the recent political and legal history of the U.S., Dog Whistle Politics is sure to generate a productive and lively debate about the role of race as a fundamental driver of inequality.
The Washington Post has published this interview with Joseph Carens, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto. He is a political theorist and focuses on issues of justice, equality and freedom in democracies, with a particular interest in cultural diversity and migration. His latest book, "The Ethics of Immigration," was released this year by Oxford University Press.
Friday, November 29, 2013
As Thanksgoving dinner is behind us, Black Friday is dominating the thoughts of many Americans today. I thought I might offer some ideas on immigration books that might be worth a look (and perhaps a purchase).
5. Social Control and Justice: Crimmigration in the Age of Fear (2013) Editors: Maria João Guia, Maartje van der Woude and Joanne van der Leun Nominated for the Stein Rokkan Prize 2013 for Comparative Social Science Research
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
From the Bookshelves: American Value: Migrants, Money, and Meaning in El Salvador and the United States by David Pedersen
Over the past half-century, El Salvador has transformed dramatically. Historically reliant on primary exports like coffee and cotton, the country emerged from a brutal civil war in 1992 to find much of its national income now coming from a massive emigrant workforce—over a quarter of its population—that earns money in the United States and sends it home. In American Value, David Pedersen examines this new way of life as it extends across two places: Intipucá, a Salvadoran town infamous for its remittance wealth, and the Washington, DC, metro area, home to the second largest population of Salvadorans in the United States. Pedersen charts El Salvador’s change alongside American deindustrialization, viewing the Salvadoran migrant work abilities used in new lowwage American service jobs as a kind of primary export, and shows how the latest social conditions linking both countries are part of a longer history of disparity across the Americas. Drawing on the work of Charles S. Peirce, he demonstrates how the defining value forms—migrant work capacity, services, and remittances—act as signs, building a moral world by communicating their exchangeability while hiding the violence and exploitation on which this story rests. Theoretically sophisticated, ethnographically rich, and compellingly written, American Value offers critical insights into practices that are increasingly common throughout the world.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
From the Bookshelves: US Immigration Reform and Its Global Impact: Lessons from the Postville Raid by Erik Camayd-Freixas
US Immigration Reform and Its Global Impact: Lessons from the Postville Raid by Erik Camayd-Freixas
Providing an insider's view of US immigration enforcement and detention, US Immigration Reform and Its Global Impact unravels the post-9/11 national security agenda that led to the devastating Postville Raid of 2008 and its global ramifications. This incisive historical analysis unveils the hidden ideologies within immigration policy—uncovering forms of labor, demographic, and electoral control. Rich eyewitness accounts and voices from across the political spectrum paint a vivid picture of labor migration in the era of globalization. Camayd-Freixas employs theories of human mobility in terms of migration spheres to convey practical and historical lessons, illuminating a much-needed roadmap for enlightened immigration reform.
Erik Camayd-Freixas is Professor of Hispanic Studies at Florida International University. He has testified before Congress, contributed as amicus curiae to the U.S. Supreme Court, and received numerous human rights awards. He has lectured internationally on cultural studies, immigration, labor, ethics, and human rights.
Friday, November 22, 2013
From the Bookshelves: The Speech: The Story Behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream Racism & Civil Rights by Gary Younge
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DELIVERED his powerful “I Have a Dream” speech on August 28, 1963. Fifty years later, the speech endures as a defining moment in the civil rights movement. It continues to be heralded as a beacon in the ongoing struggle for racial equality. This gripping book is rooted in new and important interviews with Clarence Jones, a close friend of and draft speechwriter for Martin Luther King Jr., and Joan Baez, a singer at the march, as well as Angela Davis and other leading civil rights leaders. It brings to life the fascinating chronicle behind “The Speech” and other events surrounding the March on Washington. Younge skillfully captures the spirit of that historic day in Washington and offers a new generation of readers a critical modern analysis of why “I Have a Dream” remains America’s favorite speech.
From the Introduction:
It was over eighty degrees when Martin Luther King Jr. took the stage at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. King was the last speaker. By the time he reached the podium many in the crowd had started to leave. Not all those who remained could hear him properly, but those who could stood rapt. “Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed,” said King as though he were wrapping up. “Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.” Then he set his prepared text aside. [Clarence] Jones saw his stance turn from lecturer to preacher. He turned to the person next to him: “Those people don’t know it but they’re about to go to church.” A smattering of applause filled a pause more pregnant than most.
“So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.” C
GARY YOUNGE is an author, broadcaster, and award-winning columnist for the Guardian, based in Chicago. He also writes a monthly column for The Nation magazine and is the Alfred Knobler Fellow for The Nation Institute.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Here is the music video for the hit song “Wake Me Up.” A collaboration with singer Aloe Blacc, Director Alex Rivera, and some friends that star as actors, the video tells a story of one family whose dream to be together confronts the nightmare of US immigration policy.
Henry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857, when the region is a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forces. When John Brown, the legendary abolitionist, arrives in the area, an argument between Brown and Henry’s master quickly turns violent. Henry is forced to leave town—with Brown, who believes he’s a girl. Over the ensuing months, Henry—whom Brown nicknames Little Onion—conceals his true identity as he struggles to stay alive. Eventually Little Onion finds himself with Brown at the historic raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859—one of the great catalysts for the Civil War. An absorbing mixture of history and imagination, and told with McBride’s meticulous eye for detail and character, The Good Lord Bird is both a rousing adventure and a moving exploration of identity and survival.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
In “Living the DREAM: The Stories of Undocumented Latino Youth,” Professor Maria Chávez and her co-authors systematically examine the experiences faced by undocumented youth since President Obama’s 2012 implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals process. Latinos are the largest ethno-racial minority group, projected to constitute 30 percent of the U.S. population by 2050, so through 101 in-depth interviews of Latino youth in California, Oregon, Texas and Washington—including Ana Sofia—we illustrate with real lives how the obstacles DREAMers face affect their ability to live the American dream.
In What the Best Law Teachers Do, Michael Hunter Schwartz, Gerald F. Hess and Sophie M. Sparrow identify the methods, strategies, and personal traits of professors whose students achieve exceptional learning. Congratulations to Professor Hiroshi Motomura (UCLA School of Law), co-author of Immigration and Citizenship, Process and Policy, for having his teaching excellence highlighted in the book.
From the Bookshelves: Fire in the Canyon: Religion, Migration, and the Mexican Dream by Leah M. Sarat
The canyon in central Mexico was ablaze with torches as hundreds of people filed in. So palpable was their shared shock and grief, they later said, that neither pastor nor priest was needed. The event was a memorial service for one of their own who had died during an attempted border passage. Months later a survivor emerged from a coma to tell his story. The accident had provoked a near-death encounter with God that prompted his conversion to Pentecostalism. Today, over half of the local residents of El Alberto, a town in central Mexico, are Pentecostal. Submitting themselves to the authority of a God for whom there are no borders, these Pentecostals today both embrace migration as their right while also praying that their “Mexican Dream”—the dream of a Mexican future with ample employment for all—will one day become a reality.
Fire in the Canyon provides one of the first in‑depth looks at the dynamic relationship between religion, migration, and ethnicity across the U.S.-Mexican border. Faced with the choice between life‑threatening danger at the border and life‑sapping poverty in Mexico, residents of El Alberto are drawing on both their religion and their indigenous heritage to demand not only the right to migrate, but also the right to stay home. If we wish to understand people's migration decisions, Sarat argues, we must take religion seriously. It is through religion that people formulate their ideas about life, death, and the limits of government authority.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
This is the 150th anniversary of the Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. In The Colors of Courage: Gettysburg's Forgotten History: Immigrants, Women, and African Americans in the Civil War's Defining Battle, Margaret S. Creighton narrates the tale of this crucial battle from the viewpoint of three unsung groups--women, immigrants, and African Americans--and reveals how wide the conflict's dimensions were. A historian with a superb flair for storytelling, Creighton draws on memoirs, letters, diaries, and newspapers to bring to life the individuals at the heart of her narrative. The Colors of Courage is a stunningly fluid work of original history-one that redefines the Civil War's most remarkable battle.
From the Bookshelves: Black-Brown Solidarity Racial Politics in the New Gulf South By John D. Márquez
An eye-opening study of the new coalitions between Latinos and African Americans emerging throughout the Gulf South, where previously divided ethnicities are forging an unprecedented challenge to white hegemony.
January 2014 Not yet published; available for pre-order.
From the Bookshelves: Marginal Workers: How Legal Fault Lines Divide Workers and Leave Them without Protection by Ruben J. Garcia
"In Marginal Workers, Ruben Garcia goes further than any previous work in describing the various ways in which [U.S. labor and employment laws] fail to protect some of the most vulnerable workers in the country."—JOTWELL
Undocumented and authorized immigrant laborers, female workers, workers of color, guest workers, and unionized workers together compose an enormous and diverse part of the labor force in America. Labor and employment laws are supposed to protect employees from various workplace threats, such as poor wages, bad working conditions, and unfair dismissal. Yet as members of individual groups with minority status, the rights of many of these individuals are often dictated by other types of law, such as constitutional and immigration laws. Worse still, the groups who fall into these cracks in the legal system often do not have the political power necessary to change the laws for better protection.
In Marginal Workers, Ruben J. Garcia demonstrates that when it comes to these marginal workers, the sum of the law is less than its parts, and, despite what appears to be a plethora of applicable statutes, marginal workers are frequently lacking in protection. To ameliorate the status of marginal workers, he argues for a new paradigm in worker protection, one based on human freedom and rights.
For a review essay on Marginal workers by Sameer Ashar, click here.
Friday, November 15, 2013
When Rennie's parents die in a freak accident, he does what they would have wanted and buries them in Puerto Rico, their homeland. There, he's shocked to discover that the woman who raised him was not his biological mother. A high-powered attorney, his birth mother Julia is determined to reclaim the son she gave up many years before. Adrift, with no family in New York and haunted by memories, Rennie is swayed by Julia's constant pleading that he move to the island. A teaching job at a college in Puerto Rico decides it, and he finds himself flying "home" to a place and culture he knows only through his parents' recollections. Once there, he must deal with Julia's strong-willed nature, a department chair not thrilled to have a Nuyorican on staff, squatters living in the house he inherited, students frequently on strike and a lover anxious to settle down. Most disturbing is the rumor that numerous faculty and staff are dying from cancer because the campus, a former U.S. military base, is full of buried munitions. Rennie soon finds himself working to expose the government's lies, though he risks losing his job, his home and even the woman he loves.
In his debut novel, J.L. Torres captures the conflict and challenges experienced by Puerto Ricans returning to their "homeland."
Author of Enrique's Journey, Sonia Nazario updates us on Enrique's struggle to remain in the United States. Fortunately, it has a happy ending but only after Enrique's arrest, detention, and threatened deportation. Hat tip to the Poverty Law blog.
The book tells the astonishing true story of the unforgettable odyssey of a Honduran boy who braves unimaginable hardship and peril to reach his mother in the United States.