Tuesday, February 4, 2014
From the Bookshelves: Living in Infamy: Felon Disfranchisement and the History of American Citizenship by Pippa Holloway
Felon Disfranchisement and the History of American Citizenship examines the history of disfranchisement for criminal conviction in the United States during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the post-war South, white southern Democrats expanded the usage of laws disfranchising for crimes of infamy in order to deny African Americans the suffrage rights due them as citizens, employing historical similarities between the legal statuses of slaves and convicts as justification. At the same time, our nation's criminal code changed. The inhumane treatment of prisoners, the expansion of the prison system, the public nature of punishment by forced labor, and the abandonment of the idea of reform and rehabilitation of prisoners all contributed to a national consensus that certain categories of criminals should be permanently disfranchised.
As racial barriers to suffrage were challenged and fell, rights remained restricted for persons targeted by such infamy laws. Criminal convictions-in place of race-continued the disparity in legal status between whites and African Americans. Decades later, after race-based disfranchisement has officially ended, legislation steeped in a legacy of racial discrimination continues to perpetuate a dichotomy of suffrage and citizenship that is still effecting our election outcomes today.
Friday, January 31, 2014
From the Bookshelves: Sacrificing Families Navigating Laws, Labor, and Love Across Borders by Leisy J. Abrego
Sacrificing Families Navigating Laws, Labor, and Love Across Borders by Leisy J. Abrego 2014, Available Now
Widening global inequalities make it difficult for parents in developing nations to provide for their children, and both mothers and fathers often find that migration in search of higher wages is their only hope. Their dreams are straightforward: with more money, they can improve their children's lives. But the reality of their experiences is often harsh, and structural barriers—particularly those rooted in immigration policies and gender inequities—prevent many from reaching their economic goals.
Sacrificing Families offers a first-hand look at Salvadoran transnational families, how the parents fare in the United States, and the experiences of the children back home. It captures the tragedy of these families' daily living arrangements, but also delves deeper to expose the structural context that creates and sustains patterns of inequality in their well-being. What prevents these parents from migrating with their children? What are these families' experiences with long-term separation? And why do some ultimately fare better than others? As free trade agreements expand and nation-states open doors widely for products and profits while closing them tightly for refugees and migrants, these transnational families are not only becoming more common, but they are living through lengthier separations.
Leisy Abrego gives voice to these immigrants and their families and documents the inequalities across their experiences.
Sunday, January 26, 2014
The United States is still typically conceived of as an offshoot of England, with our history unfolding east to west beginning with the first English settlers in Jamestown. This view overlooks the significance of America’s Hispanic past. With the profile of the United States increasingly Hispanic, the importance of recovering the Hispanic dimension to our national story has never been greater. This absorbing narrative begins with the explorers and conquistadores who planted Spain’s first colonies in Puerto Rico, Florida, and the Southwest. Missionaries and rancheros carry Spain’s expansive impulse into the late eighteenth century, settling California, mapping the American interior to the Rockies, and charting the Pacific coast. During the nineteenth century Anglo-America expands west under the banner of “Manifest Destiny” and consolidates control through war with Mexico. In the Hispanic resurgence that follows, it is the peoples of Latin America who overspread the continent, from the Hispanic heartland in the West to major cities such as Chicago, Miami, New York, and Boston. The United States clearly has a Hispanic present and future. And here is its Hispanic past, presented with characteristic insight and wit by one of our greatest historians.
Click here for a review of Our America in the Economist.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Martin Luther King may not have had a vote in Congress, but he and the movement he helped lead were integral to getting the civil rights bill introduced. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of that bill, now known as the Civil Rights Act. Among other things, the act outlawed discrimination in public accommodations — including restaurants, hotels and motels — ending the era of legal segregation in those places.
Todd Purdum is the author of the forthcoming book An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Two Presidents, Two Parties and the Battle for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Purdum is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and a senior writer at Politico. He joins Fresh Air's Terry Gross on NPR to talk about the legislative and political battle to get the civil rights bill passed. Click the audio link to listen to the interview.
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
From the Bookshelves: Reproducing Racism: How Everyday Choices Lock In White Advantage by Daria Roithmayr
Reproducing Racism: How Everyday Choices Lock In White Advantage by Daria Roithmayr 205 pages January, 2014
This book is designed to change the way we think about racial inequality. Long after the passage of civil rights laws and now the inauguration of our first black president, blacks and Latinos possess barely a nickel of wealth for every dollar that whites have. Why have we made so little progress? Legal scholar Daria Roithmayr provocatively argues that racial inequality lives on because white advantage functions as a powerful self-reinforcing monopoly, reproducing itself automatically from generation to generation even in the absence of intentional discrimination. Drawing on work in antitrust law and a range of other disciplines, Roithmayr brilliantly compares the dynamics of white advantage to the unfair tactics of giants like AT&T and Microsoft. With penetrating insight, Roithmayr locates the engine of white monopoly in positive feedback loops that connect the dramatic disparity of Jim Crow to modern racial gaps in jobs, housing and education. Wealthy white neighborhoods fund public schools that then turn out wealthy white neighbors. Whites with lucrative jobs informally refer their friends, who refer their friends, and so on. Roithmayr concludes that racial inequality might now be locked in place, unless policymakers immediately take drastic steps to dismantle this oppressive system.
Monday, January 13, 2014
Before Robert M. Gates received a call from the White House in 2006, he thought he’d left Washington politics behind: after working for six presidents in both the CIA and the National Security Council, he was happy in his role as president of Texas A&M University. But when he was asked to help a nation mired in two wars and to aid the troops doing the fighting, he answered what he felt was the call of duty.
Now, in this unsparing memoir, meticulously fair in its assessments, he takes us behind the scenes of his nearly five years as a secretary at war: the battles with Congress, the two presidents he served, the military itself, and the vast Pentagon bureaucracy; his efforts to help Bush turn the tide in Iraq; his role as a guiding, and often dissenting, voice for Obama; the ardent devotion to and love for American soldiers—his “heroes”—he developed on the job.
In relating his personal journey as secretary, Gates draws us into the innermost sanctums of government and military power during the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, illuminating iconic figures, vital negotiations, and critical situations in revealing, intimate detail. Offering unvarnished appraisals of Dick Cheney, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Presidents Bush and Obama among other key players, Gates exposes the full spectrum of behind-closed-doors politicking within both the Bush and Obama administrations. He discusses the great controversies of his tenure—surges in both Iraq and Afghanistan, how to deal with Iran and Syria, “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” Guantánamo Bay, WikiLeaks—as they played out behind the television cameras. He brings to life the Situation Room during the Bin Laden raid. And, searingly, he shows how congressional debate and action or inaction on everything from equipment budgeting to troop withdrawals was often motivated, to his increasing despair and anger, more by party politics and media impact than by members’ desires to protect our soldiers and ensure their success.
However embroiled he became in the trials of Washington, Gates makes clear that his heart was always in the most important theater of his tenure as secretary: the front lines. We journey with him to both war zones as he meets with active-duty troops and their commanders, awed by their courage, and also witness him greet coffin after flag-draped coffin returned to U.S. soil, heartbreakingly aware that he signed every deployment order.
In frank and poignant vignettes, Gates conveys the human cost of war, and his admiration for those brave enough to undertake it when necessary. Duty tells a powerful and deeply personal story that allows us an unprecedented look at two administrations and the wars that have defined them.
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
From the Bookshelves: Lives in the Balance: Asylum Adjudication by the Department of Homeland Security Andrew I. Schoenholtz, Philip G. Schrag and Jaya Ramji-Nogales
Although Americans generally think that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is focused only on preventing terrorism, one office within that agency has a humanitarian mission. Its Asylum Office adjudicates applications from people fleeing persecution in their homelands. Lives in the Balance is a careful empirical analysis of how Homeland Security decided these asylum cases over a recent fourteen-year period. Day in and day out, asylum officers make decisions with life-or-death consequences: determining which applicants are telling the truth and are at risk of persecution in their home countries, and which are ineligible for refugee status in America.
In Lives in the Balance, the authors analyze a database of 383,000 cases provided to them by the government in order to better understand the effect on grant rates of a host of factors unrelated to the merits of asylum claims, including the one-year filing deadline, whether applicants entered the United States with a visa, whether applicants had dependents, whether they were represented, how many asylum cases their adjudicator had previously decided, and whether or not their adjudicator was a lawyer. The authors also examine the degree to which decisions were consistent among the eight regional asylum offices and within each of those offices. The authors’ recommendations, including repeal of the one-year deadline, would improve the adjudication process by reducing the impact of non-merits factors on asylum decisions. If adopted by the government, these proposals would improve the accuracy of outcomes for those whose lives hang in the balance.
On February 6: Georgetown University Law Center will be hosting a combination presentation of the data and book party at 5 P.M. that afternoon. Professor Karen Musalo (UC Hastings) will be commenting. If you would like to have an invitation, please contact Phil Schrag at [email protected].
Sunday, January 5, 2014
Let the People Go: The Problem With Strict Migration Limits by Michael Clemens and Justin Sandefur reviews Exodus: How Migration Is Changing Our World. By Paul Collier (Oxford University Press, 2013). They write:
"Paul Collier . . . has just published an extended apologia for . . . tight strictures on immigration . . . , arguing for a global system of coercive quotas on people moving from poorer countries to richer ones. Such quotas, he writes in Exodus, would serve the “enlightened self-interest” of immigrants’ host countries and constitute an act of “compassion” for immigrants and their countries of origin. Collier argues that at a certain point, immigration begins to harm both host and origin countries, that many countries are near or past that point, and that even in countries that have so far remained unharmed, “preventative policies are greatly superior to reactive ones.”
It is refreshing to see the grand case against immigration served up by someone of Collier’s intelligence and credentials. But although Collier styles his book as a balanced review of the research literature, it is in fact a one-sided polemic that stands mostly outside academic research -- by Collier or anyone else." (emphasis added).
A 1975 state-wide law in Texas made it legal for school districts to bar students from public schools if they were in the country illegally, thus making it extremely difficult or even possible for scores of children to receive an education. The resulting landmark Supreme Court case, Plyler v. Doe (1982), established the constitutional right of children to attend public elementary and secondary schools regardless of legal status and changed how the nation approached the conversation about immigration outside the law.
Today, as the United States takes steps towards immigration policy reform, Americans are subjected to polarized debates on what the country should do with its "illegal" or "undocumented" population. In Immigration Outside the Law, acclaimed immigration law expert Hiroshi Motomura takes a neutral, legally-accurate approach in his attention and responses to the questions surrounding those whom he calls "unauthorized migrants." In a reasoned and careful discussion, he seeks to explain why unlawful immigration is such a contentious debate in the United States and to offer suggestions for what should be done about it. He looks at ways in which unauthorized immigrants are becoming part of American society and why it is critical to pave the way for this integration.
In the final section of the book, Motomura focuses on practical and politically viable solutions to the problem in three public policy areas: international economic development, domestic economic policy, and educational policy. Amidst the extreme opinions voiced daily in the media, Motomura explains the complicated topic of immigration outside the law in an understandable and refreshingly objective way for students and scholars studying immigration law, policy-makers looking for informed opinions, and any American developing an opinion on this contentious issue.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
From the Bookshelves: Migration, Environment and Climate Change: Assessing the Evidence edited by Frank Laczko and Christine Aghazarm
Migration, Environment and Climate Change: Assessing the Evidence edited by Frank Laczko and Christine Aghazarm
Gradual and sudden environmental changes are resulting in substantial human movement and displacement, and the scale of such flows, both internal and cross-border, is expected to rise with unprecedented impacts on lives and livelihoods. Despite the potential challenge, there has been a lack of strategic thinking about this policy area partly due to a lack of data and empirical research on this topic. Adequately planning for and managing environmentallyinduced migration will be critical for human security. The papers in this volume were first presented at the Research Workshop on Migration and the Environment: Developing a Global Research Agenda held in Munich, Germany in April 2008. One of the key objectives on the Munich workshop was to address the need for more sound empirical research and identify priority areas of research for policy makers in the field of migration and the environment.
Monday, December 9, 2013
The first book-length examination of immigrant admissions from a feminist philosophical perspective. Higgins argues that a different set of immigration policies will be just for each country and concludes with concrete recommendations for policymaking.
What moral standards ought nation-states abide by when selecting immigration policies? Peter Higgins argues that immigration policies can only be judged by considering the inequalities that are produced by the institutions - such as gender, race and class - that constitute our social world. Higgins challenges conventional positions on immigration justice, including the view that states have a right to choose whatever immigration policies they like, or that all immigration restrictions ought to be eliminated and borders opened. Rather than suggesting one absolute solution, he argues that a unique set of immigration policies will be just for each country. He concludes with concrete recommendations for policymaking.
Peter Higgins is Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Department Member in Women's and Gender Studies at the Eastern Michigan University.
Sunday, December 8, 2013
It has been a year since a plane crash killed singer Jenni Rivera, the Mexican-American singer and reality television star known as “the Diva of Banda,” and six others. New details have emerged about what might have caused the plane to crash in a mountainous area of northern Mexico. Here is the latest on the investigation.
Drawing on contemporary conflicts between Latino/as and anti-immigrant forces, Citizenship Excess illustrates the limitations of liberalism as expressed through U.S. media channels. Inspired by Latin American critical scholarship on the “coloniality of power,” Amaya demonstrates that nativists use the privileges associated with citizenship to accumulate power. That power is deployed to aggressively shape politics, culture, and the law, effectively undermining Latino/as who are marked by the ethno-racial and linguistic difference that nativists love to hate. Yet these social characteristics present crucial challenges to the political, legal, and cultural practices that define citizenship.
Amaya examines the role of ethnicity and language in shaping the mediated public sphere through cases ranging from the participation of Latino/as in the Iraqi war and pro-immigration reform marches to labor laws restricting Latino/a participation in English-language media and news coverage of undocumented immigrant detention centers. Citizenship Excess demonstrates that the evolution of the idea of citizenship in the United States and the political and cultural practices that define it are intricately intertwined with nativism.
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