Thursday, September 29, 2016
“They Were Scattered Everywhere, All Drowning.” How a Lampedusa Optician Became a Hero of the Migrant Crisis
A boat carrying nearly 600 migrants capsizes in the Mediterranean in May 2016. 562 were rescued and 5 died. Photo: Italian Navy
Emma Jane Kirby interviews an optician who dramatically rescued many migrants on the high seas. She is the author of the book, The Optician of Lampedusa, which describes itself as "PERHAPS THE MOST DEVASTATING FIRST-PERSON ACCOUNT OF THE REFUGEE CRISIS YOU'LL EVER READ."
Here is an abstract of the book:
The only optician on the island of Lampedusa in the Mediterranean is an ordinary man in his fifties, who used to be indifferent to the fate of the thousands of refugees landing on the coast of the Italian island. One day in the fall of 2013, the unimaginable scale of the tragedy became clear to him, and it changed him forever: as he was out boating with some friends, he encountered hundreds of men, women and children drowning in the aftermath of a shipwreck. The Optician and his seven friends managed to save 47 people (his boat was designed to hold ten people). Hundreds died. This is a poignant and unforgettable account about the awakening of conscience: more than that, it brings home the reality of an ongoing refugee crisis that has resulted in one of the most massive migrations in human history.
More than 360 people died in the disaster off the coast of Lampedusa on October 3, 2013. The original interview with Carmine Menna, the basis for this book, can be heard here.
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
From the Bookshelves: Rightlessness Testimony and Redress in U.S. Prison Camps since World War II by A. Naomi Paik
In this bold book, A. Naomi Paik grapples with the history of U.S. prison camps that have confined people outside the boundaries of legal and civil rights. Removed from the social and political communities that would guarantee fundamental legal protections, these detainees are effectively rightless, stripped of the right even to have rights. Rightless people thus expose an essential paradox: while the United States purports to champion inalienable rights at home and internationally, it has built its global power in part by creating a regime of imprisonment that places certain populations perceived as threats beyond rights. The United States' status as the guardian of rights coincides with, indeed depends on, its creation of rightlessness.
Yet rightless people are not silent. Drawing from an expansive testimonial archive of legal proceedings, truth commission records, poetry, and experimental video, Paik shows how rightless people use their imprisonment to protest U.S. state violence. She examines demands for redress by Japanese Americans interned during World War II, testimonies of HIV-positive Haitian refugees detained at Guantánamo in the early 1990s, and appeals by Guantánamo’s enemy combatants from the War on Terror. In doing so, she reveals a powerful ongoing contest over the nature and meaning of the law, over civil liberties and global human rights, and over the power of the state in people's lives.
Saturday, September 17, 2016
As part of the launch of the book, Latinos and Criminal Justice: An Encyclopedia, a two-day event on Latina/os and criminal justice is being organized at John Jay College of Criminal Justice for September 21 and 22, 2016. The primary goal of the conference will be the dissemination of the research and accurate information about Latina/os and criminal justice and dispel all-too-popular myths and misconceptions about Latina/os and crime. For conference details, see Download LatinosCJ Conference Poster-Flyer FINAL 2016 .
Latinos and Criminal Justice is a unique compilation of essays and entries provides critical insights into the Latino/a experience with the U.S. criminal justice system.
• Topical essays that provide context to major contemporary issues, such as immigrants and crime, drugs, youth, U.S.-Mexico border crime, policing, and prisons
• Shorter, A–Z entries on a wide range of additional topics
• Extensive bibliographies identifying further readings in the subject area
The first day of the conference will consist of a press briefing (3:30pm – 5:00 pm) to take place at the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle, located near the John Jay campus, the afternoon of September 21, followed by a reception afterwards (5:00-7:00 pm). A conference will be held at John Jay College of Criminal Justice on the second day. The news media and a broader audience of scholars, practitioners, activists and students will be invited to hear more in-depth presentations on the topic of Latina/os and criminal justice on this day. Those attending will hear about issues covered in the book and about new and pressing issues related to the topic. The presenters will include some who contributed to the volume and others engaged in various aspects of the Latina/o experience with the U.S. criminal justice system.
The conference on September 22nd will be livestreamed. A link will be available on the John Jay website (www.jjay.cuny.edu) for that purpose.
Sunday, September 11, 2016
From the Bookshelves: Edgar and Brigitte: A German Jewish Passage to America by Rosemarie Bodenheimer
The couple’s encounters with the strange new dynamics of race, religion, and the workplace in their new American home offer a compelling account of the struggles that faced many immigrants with deep German roots. It is also an intimate portrait of a now-vanished German Jewish culture as it played out in the lives of Bodenheimer’s parents and her grandparents from the 1920s to the late 1960s, a story of emigration, assimilation, and the private struggles that accompany those forced shifts in orientation.
The Bodenheimers’ letters and journals offer engaging perspectives into their personal lives that retrospective memories cannot match. Braiding intimate biography together with history and memoir, Edgar and Brigitte will appeal both to historians of the European Jewish diaspora and to readers interested in the struggles and resilience of people whose lives were upended by Hitler.
Friday, September 9, 2016
From the Bookshelves: The 9/11 Generation Youth, Rights, and Solidarity in the War on Terror by Sunaina Marr Maira
Since the attacks of 9/11, the banner of national security has led to intense monitoring of the politics of Muslim and Arab Americans. Young people from these communities have come of age in a time when the question of political engagement is both urgent and fraught.
In The 9/11 Generation, Sunaina Marr Maira uses extensive ethnography to understand the meaning of political subjecthood and mobilization for Arab, South Asian, and Afghan American youth. Maira explores how young people from communities targeted in the War on Terror engage with the “political,” forging coalitions based on new racial and ethnic categories, even while they are under constant scrutiny and surveillance, and organizing around notions of civil rights and human rights. The 9/11 Generation explores the possibilities and pitfalls of rights-based organizing at a moment when the vocabulary of rights and democracy has been used to justify imperial interventions, such as the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Maira further reconsiders political solidarity in cross-racial and interfaith alliances at a time when U.S. nationalism is understood as not just multicultural but also post-racial. Throughout, she weaves stories of post-9/11 youth activism through key debates about neoliberal democracy, the “radicalization” of Muslim youth, gender, and humanitarianism.
Saturday, August 27, 2016
We all have heard the words "Build a Wall!"
In the past year or so more and more discriminatory policies have been adopted, like the banning of Chicano Studies In Phoenix or the racist text book that will soon be available in all Texas Schools
This is where our documentary comes in
Viva Los Icons is a documentary by Eduardo A. Tobias that will celebrate the positive contributions of Chicano Art and the importance of Chicano Studies
Viva los Icons is a traveling documentary that follows Jesse Borrego and Adan Hernandez and they teach our youth about the contirbutions of Chicanos in the Arts. It will shed a light into the importance of Chicano Studies and Chicano contributions to our country.
On our Journey to Albuqerque, New Mexico, I decided to ask the question that has been the fuel behind The Chicano movement and this documentary. "What does it mean to be Chicano?" As a young filmmaker from San Antonio, Texas; I have never had the pleasure of being able to identify myself as Mexican, or American. I have been stuck somewhere in the abyss, with no identity.
Growing up, my school textbooks never taught me about the history behind the Chicano civil rights movements, the pride that flows from generation to generation, and the remnants of our culture that still remain through the lands of Aztlan. It has become my mission to further my education through the Chicanos I meet and to use my art to help get their Untold Stories out to the mainstream public.
Our main goal is to enlighten the world on the Chicano Icons that had to endure oppression, which has allowed the youth of today to stand on the shoulders of their Chicano ancestors.
The best way to share stories, is through the ART!
Friday, August 26, 2016
From the It Could Not Have Happened to A Nicer Person Department?
Vanity Fair reports on news from the right. ImmigrationProf has kept readers abreast of Donald Trump's apparent softening on immigration. While Trump has changed his mind about a great many things, one thing until recently has remained constant: an antagonism toward undocumented immigrants. “There’s nothing Trump can do that won’t be forgiven,” the conservative pundit Ann Coulter writes in her latest book, In Trump We Trust, “except change his immigration policies.” It was a sad twist of fate, then, that Trump decided to jettison his controversial plans for mass deportations on the same day that Coulter launched her book. She did not appear pleased: https://twitter.com/charlescwcooke/status/768604546734096385
Sunday, August 21, 2016
A compulsively readable debut novel about marriage, immigration, class, race, and the trapdoors in the American Dream—the unforgettable story of a young Cameroonian couple making a new life in New York just as the Great Recession upends the economy
Named one of BuzzFeed’s “Incredible New Books You Need to Read This Summer”
Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty—and Jende is eager to please. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses’ summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.
However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers’ façades.
When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job—even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.
Imbolo Mbue is a native of Limbe, Cameroon. She holds a B.S. from Rutgers University and an M.A. from Columbia University. A resident of the United States for over a decade, she lives in New York City.
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
The practice of sanctuary-giving refuge to the threatened, vulnerable stranger-may be universal among humans. From primate populations to ancient religious traditions to the modern legal institution of asylum, anthropologist Linda Rabben explores the long history of sanctuary and analyzes modern asylum policies in North America, Europe, and elsewhere, contrasting them with the role that courageous individuals and organizations have played in offering refuge to survivors of torture, persecution, and discrimination. Rabben gives close attention to the mid-2010s refugee crisis in Europe and to Central Americans seeking asylum in the United States.
This wide-ranging, timely, and carefully documented account draws on Rabben's experiences as a human rights advocate as well as her training as an anthropologist. Sanctuary and Asylum will help citizens, professionals, and policy makers take informed and compassionate action.
Linda Rabben is associate research professor of anthropology at the University of Maryland. She is the author of Give Refuge to the Stranger: The Past, Present, and Future of Sanctuary and Fierce Legion of Friends: A History of Human Rights Campaigns and Campaigners.
Tuesday, August 9, 2016
From the Bookshelves: 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.
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.
Friday, August 5, 2016
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.
Tuesday, August 2, 2016
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.
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
From the Bookshelves: 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."
Monday, July 11, 2016
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.
- Spare Parts: Four Undocumented Teenagers, One Ugly Robot, and the Battle for the American Dream (Miami University of Ohio)
- Illegal: Reflections of an Undocumented Immigrant (Cal. State U. East Bay)
- Stealing Buddha's Dinner (Lehigh)
- Americanah (Rowan U.)
That's a great list for any immprof to tackle over the last weeks of summer.
Sunday, July 10, 2016
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.
Thursday, July 7, 2016
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.
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
"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.
Monday, June 13, 2016
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.
Saturday, June 4, 2016
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.
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
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.