Friday, August 18, 2017

Mila Kunis on Her Family's Immigration


From our pop culture cornerMila Kunis, an Immigrant of the Day in August 2007, has offered a succinct immigration story in a new book of immigration stories.  A refugee who came to the United States, Kunis has been critical of President's Trump immigration policies.

The creators of the television show Fresh Off the Boat have joined forces with celebrities to remind people of the humans behind immigration. In the upcoming book Six Words Fresh Off the Boat, Mila Kunis contributed a story about immigration using only six words. Her message provides one example of the hope that immigration can bring.

For Six Words Fresh Off the Boat, the creator of Fresh Off the Boat, Nahnatchka Khan, and the show’s executive producer, Melvin Marr, partnered with Six-Word Memoirs to focus on immigration — and Kunis shared her own six words on the topic:

“A better life for our children.”

Kunis’ parents gave her and her brother a better life, and she’s now passing that on to her two children with Ashton Kutcher — their daughter, Wyatt, and their son, Dimitri.

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The book Six Words Fresh Off the Boat, available next month,marries the phenomenon of Larry Smith's successful Six-Word Memoirs with ABC and 20th Century Fox Television's hit comedy Fresh Off the Boat. The book captures hundreds of takes on the immigration experience, from every-day people as well as world-famous celebrities including Aziz Ansari, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Julianne Moore, Mario Batali, George Takei, Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer, Billy Collins, Junot Diaz, and Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

August 18, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

From the Bookshelves: China’s Great Migration How the Poor Built a Prosperous Nation by Bradley M. Gardner


China’s Great Migration How the Poor Built a Prosperous Nation by Bradley M. Gardner

China’s rise over the past several decades has lifted more than half of its population out of poverty and reshaped the global economy. What has caused this dramatic transformation? In China’s Great Migration: How the Poor Built a Prosperous Nation, author Bradley Gardner looks at one of the most important but least discussed forces pushing China’s economic development: the migration of more than 260 million people from their birthplaces to China’s most economically vibrant cities. By combining an analysis of China’s political economy with current scholarship on the role of migration in economic development, China’s Great Migration shows how the largest economic migration in the history of the world has led to a bottom-up transformation of China.

Gardner draws from his experience as a researcher and journalist working in China to investigate why people chose to migrate and the social and political consequences of their decisions. In the aftermath of China's Cultural Revolution, the collapse of totalitarian government control allowed millions of people to skirt migration restrictions and move to China’s growing cities, where they offered a massive pool of labor that propelled industrial development, foreign investment, and urbanization. Struggling to respond to the demands of these migrants, the Chinese government loosened its grip on the economy, strengthening property rights and allowing migrants to employ themselves and each other, spurring the Chinese economic miracle.

More than simply a narrative of economic progress, China’s Great Migration tells the human story of China’s transformation, featuring interviews with the men and women whose way of life has been remade. In its pages, readers will learn about the rebirth of a country and millions of lives changed, hear what migration can tell us about the future of China, and discover what China’s development can teach the rest of the world about the role of market liberalization and economic migration in fighting poverty and creating prosperity.


August 17, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

From the Bookshelves: We Are Syrians, editors Adam Braver and Abby DeVeuve


In their new book We Are Syrians, editors Adam Braver and Abby DeVeuve have collected the stories of three Syrian dissidents: SAR scholars Naila Al-Atrash, a theatre director; Radwan Ziadeh, an intellectual; and Sana Mustafa, a student organizer. When the Assad government wanted to silence them, they refused to stop making their voices heard. They organized, they protested, they made art. Scholars at Risk is proud to have helped with the formation of We Are Syrians, a project that grew out of a Roger Williams University Student Advocacy Seminar, and to have provided support to the scholars profiled. All author proceeds are donated to Scholars at Risk’s Emergency Fund.

For more information on We Are Syrians and how to order your copy, visit the Scholars at Risk website.


August 15, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

From the Bookshelves: Grace Tulasan, The Body Papers


Grace Talusan has been named the winner of the 2017 Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing for her book The Body Papers. In their citation, the judges called The Body Papers "a remarkable memoir" that trains "an unflinching eye on the most delicate and fraught contours of her own life as an immigrant and survivor of trauma and illness.... The Body Papers may be Grace Talusan’s debut, but it is the considered, artful work of one who has been processing these experiences with the diligence and courage of a true writer." Talusan is a Fulbright Fellow and a graduate of the MFA Program in Writing at the University of California, Irvine.


August 1, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 31, 2017

From the Bookshelves: Hallelujah Dave by David Valdez


Hallelujah Dave by David Valdez  (2016)

A boy of Mexican immigrants has an unusual gift, the recollection of his birth. As he grows up in Middle America, he is rocked between mischief and love, elation and despair. He becomes entangled in the hippie movement of the ’60s. Later, in the midst of his chemistry studies at the University of Illinois, he becomes ensnarled in the Vietnam antiwar movement. It is there, in high school and college, where his life goals are crystallized and he maps out his life. There are things that he must do and must become. Yet somehow, impacting him are three short letters he received in his life and a chance meeting that changes everything. Though he tries, he cannot escape his future. It was made with hands bigger than his own.



July 31, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

In California's poultry plants, refugees are vital to the workforce


From the days of chronicled in Upton Sinclair's famous 1906 book The Jungle, immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, long have toiled in the meatpacking industry,  Today, immigrants, from Nebraska to Arkansas in America's heartland, immigrant workers dominate the meatpacking industry.  Cindy Carcamo for the Los Angeles Times reports that, in California, most of the meatpacking industry is located in the Central Valley. It has become one of the biggest employers for refugee resettlement agencies and other nonprofits aiding the population in those areas.  Middle Eastern refugees are now an important part of the meatpacking industry's workforce.


July 31, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, July 29, 2017

From the Bookshelves: Anchor Babies and the Challenge of Birthright Citizenship by Leo R, Chavez

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Birthright citizenship has a deep and contentious history in the United States, one often hard to square in a country that prides itself on being "a nation of immigrants." Even as the question of citizenship for children of immigrants was seemingly settled by the Fourteenth Amendment, vitriolic debate has continued for well over a century, especially in relation to U.S. race relations. Most recently, a provocative and decidedly more offensive term than birthright citizenship has emerged: "anchor babies."

With this book, Leo R. Chavez explores the question of birthright citizenship, and of citizenship in the United States writ broadly, as he counters the often hyperbolic claims surrounding these so-called anchor babies. Chavez considers how the term is used as a political dog whistle, how changes in the legal definition of citizenship have affected the children of immigrants over time, and, ultimately, how U.S.-born citizens still experience trauma if they live in families with undocumented immigrants. By examining this pejorative term in its political, historical, and social contexts, Chavez calls upon us to exorcise it from public discourse and work toward building a more inclusive nation.

About the author

Leo R. Chavez is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of The Latino Threat: Constructing Immigrants, Citizens, and the Nation (Stanford, 2008, 2013), among other books.


July 29, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 27, 2017

From the Bookshelves: Steven W. Bender, How the West Was Juan: Reimagining the U.S./Mexico Border

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Steven W. Bender, How the West Was Juan:  Reimagining the U.S./Mexico Border 

Imagine the United States losing the 1846 war, ending up a federation of 44 states [bordering] Alto México (with an acute accent over the "e"), one of the world's major economies, Spanglish its lingua franca. Its borders? As abstruse as the ones defeating us today. If you think this is a Leibnitzian universe (or perhaps one of Kellyanne Conway's alternative facts), read Steven W. Bender's prescient How the West Was Juan. It might show us the way out of this perverse prison we call "reality."

Ilan Stavans, author of Laughing Matters: Conversations on Humor and Quixote: The Novel and the World

A Pandora's box is opened in the hands of a master of law and cultural studies as well as history. Playful, yet historically and legally researched, How the West Was Juan demarcates a new territory for the physical, psychological, moral, and spiritual borders of our country, as well as deconstructing the inaccuracy of our traditional history books. Bender keeps us entertained with his kneading of geographical facts with history and current events, allowing us to envision different, possible borderlands, and throwing a scholarly wrench into the notion of border and belonging, as well as appropriated spaces.

Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs, author of Word Images: New Perspectives on Canícula and Other Works by Norma Elia Cantú

[A] tightly packed, state by state review of the history, geography, demography, and economy of a confiscated region, Steven Bender's imagined unwinding of the U.S. seizure of 54% of Mexico's territory is excellent and engaging.

Raymond Caballero, author of Orozco, The Life and Death of a Mexican Revolutionary; Mayor, El Paso, TX (2001-03)

Steven W. Bender, a law professor and associate dean for planning and strategic initiatives at Seattle University School of Law, is the author of several books encompassing legal, cultural, political, and historical issues.


July 27, 2017 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Immigrant of the Day: Ballerina Michaela DePrince, Sierra Leone


Photo courtesy the official Michaela DePrince website

Born in Sierra Leone, ballet dancer Michaela DePrince was orphaned at the age of three. Born Mabinty Bangura to a Muslim family, she was sent to an orphanage where the "aunties" who cared for the children believed that her skin condition, vitiligo, was a curse and called her the "devil’s child."  In 1999, DePrince was adopted by a U.S. couple. Inspired by a picture of a ballerina she saw on a magazine in Sierra Leone, DePrince trained as a ballet dancer, winning a scholarship for the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at the American Ballet Theatre. In 2013, she joined the Dutch National Ballet.

DePrince tells her story in the book Taking Flight:  From War Orphan to Star Ballerina.





July 18, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs, Film & Television, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 16, 2017

From the Bookshelves: Diary of a Reluctant Dreamer: Undocumented Vignettes from a Pre-American Life by Alberto Ledesma


Diary of a Reluctant Dreamer: Undocumented Vignettes from a Pre-American Life by Alberto Ledesma

July 16, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 14, 2017

From the Bookshelves: Latinos in Criminal Justice: An Encyclopedia, edited by Professor José Luis Morín


This September 2016 conference held at John Jay College of Criminal Justice marked the publication of Latinos in Criminal Justice: An Encyclopedia, edited by Professor José Luis Morín, the first comprehensive text on Latina/os and the U.S. criminal justice system with data, research, analysis, and evidence that sets straight common misperceptions about Latina/os and crime.

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

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

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


  • Topical essays 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


  • Provides vital information at a time when questions and controversies swirl about Latinos in the United States
  • Addresses key areas of concern with respect to Latinos and crime, immigration, drugs, gangs, and police policies and practices in Latino and African American communities
  • Documents the often-forgotten history of Latinos in the United States, from the Greaser Act and zoot-suit riots to the contemporary experience of Latinos facing racial profiling and controversial immigration legislation
  • Contains both long essays that provide context and depth of discussion and shorter essays for quick reference on specific topics     
  • Latinos criminal justice
  • KJ

July 14, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 7, 2017

From the Bookshelves: Burning Bridges: America's 20-Year Crusade To Deport Labor Leader Harry Bridges by Peter Afrasiabi

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Soon to be a major motion picture and based on declassified FBI documents, including secret documents from J. Edgar Hoover's vault and never-before-published National Archives documents, Burning Bridges is the first detailed account of the twenty-year legal campaign waged by government lawyers and policymakers, in secret conjunction with private enterprise, to deport labor leader Harry Bridges. Set in the middle decades of the twentieth century during the Cold War, this is a story of bribery, perjury, and wiretaps; of secret FBI investigations, witness intimidation, and secret deals; and of assassination attempts, overzealous government prosecutors, and larger-than-life defense lawyers risking prison defending their clients.

Three-quarters of a century on, the legacy of the Harry Bridges trials still haunts America s legal system and is critical to assess because Americans today again confront aggressive prosecutorial and police action and a modern surveillance state with the greatest threat of government intrusions into civil liberties since Bridges' era.

Bridges was the center player in Bridges v. Wixon, the 1945 Supreme Court decision.

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July 7, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

H1-B's Place in Videogame History

NES Controller photo William Warby

Console Wars is a non-fiction account of "Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle That Defined a Generation."

Guess what? The H1-B visa plays a role!

In 1986, Nintendo of America (NOA) launched the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Despite focus groups that suggested the NES might be a "colossal flop," it wasn't. The company offered its iconic gaming system in just 500 stores and managed to sell half of its 100,000 units in Christmas sales.

But questions lingered over how to take the company forward. Nintendo wanted "someone to prove that the NES was more than just this year's Christmas fad. Someone who could exploit the potential for expansion and transform Nintendo from a niche sensation into a global juggernaut."

They found Peter Main, former president of the Canadian fast-food chain White Spot. But, of course, Main needed a visa to work stateside.

It seemed like a good opportunity, but there was still a lot that could go wrong, so Main decided to leave the decision to luck. For the holidays, he and his wife were headed to Asia for a much-needed vacation. Just before the trip, Main told Arakawa [founder of NOA] that if the U.S. embassy approved his application for an H1-B visa to work in the United States, then he would hed to Nintendo; if not, then he would open a restaurant of his own in Canada. With the odds of securing such a visa being only about 10 percent, Main didn't expect to be hocking cartridges anytime soon. But on the second night his trip, Arakawa and Lincoln called his hotel room in Hong Kong and happily announced that the visa had been approved. And so in April 1987, Peter Main became Nintendo of America's VP of marketing and sales.

There's a story you don't hear often - leaving your entire future up to the random chance of getting an H1-B. Not to mention the toss up between becoming third in command at an electronics company (where he would ultimately oversee the nationwide launch of the NES and the Game Boy) or opening a restaurant!  


July 5, 2017 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 2, 2017

From the Bookshelves: The Health of Newcomers: Immigration, Health Policy, and the Case for Global Solidarity by Patricia Illingworth & Wendy E. Parmet


The Health of Newcomers: Immigration, Health Policy, and the Case for Global Solidarity by Patricia Illingworth &  Wendy E. Parmet (NYU Press, 2017)

Immigration and health care are hotly debated and contentious issues. Policies that relate to both issues—to the health of newcomers—often reflect misimpressions about immigrants, and their impact on health care systems. Despite the fact that immigrants are typically younger and healthier than natives, and that many immigrants play a vital role as care-givers in their new lands, native citizens are often reluctant to extend basic health care to immigrants, choosing instead to let them suffer, to let them die prematurely, or to expedite their return to their home lands. Likewise, many nations turn against immigrants when epidemics such as Ebola strike, under the false belief that native populations can be kept well only if immigrants are kept out. 

In The Health of Newcomers, Patricia Illingworth and Wendy E. Parmet demonstrate how shortsighted and dangerous it is to craft health policy on the basis of ethnocentrism and xenophobia. Because health is a global public good and people benefit from the health of neighbor and stranger alike, it is in everyone’s interest to ensure the health of all. Drawing on rigorous legal and ethical arguments and empirical studies, as well as deeply personal stories of immigrant struggles, Illingworth and Parmet make the compelling case that global phenomena such as poverty, the medical brain drain, organ tourism, and climate change ought to inform the health policy we craft for newcomers and natives alike. 




July 2, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 1, 2017


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LET ME BE A REFUGEE: ADMINISTRATIVE JUSTICE AND THE POLITICS OF ASYLUM IN THE UNITED STATES, CANADA, AND AUSTRALIA by Rebecca Hamlin. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. 229 pp. Cloth: $105. ISBN: 9780199373307 Paper: $30.95. ISBN: 9780199373314.

International law provides states with a common definition of a "refugee" as well as guidelines outlining how asylum claims should be decided. Yet even across nations with many commonalities, the processes of determining refugee status look strikingly different. This book compares the refugee status determination (RSD) regimes of three popular asylum seeker destinations: the United States, Canada, and Australia. Though they exhibit similarly high levels of political resistance to accepting asylum seekers, refugees access three very different systems-none of which are totally restrictive or expansive-once across their borders. These differences are significant both in terms of asylum seekers' experience of the process and in terms of their likelihood of being designated as refugees. Based on a multi-method analysis of all three countries, including a year of fieldwork with in-depth interviews of policy-makers and asylum-seeker advocates, observations of refugee status determination hearings, and a large-scale case analysis, Rebecca Hamlin finds that cross-national differences have less to do with political debates over admission and border control policy than with how insulated administrative decision-making is from either political interference or judicial review. Administrative justice is conceptualized and organized differently in every state, and so states vary in how they draw the line between refugee and non-refugee

Reviewed by Anna O. Law, Political Science Department, CUNY Brooklyn College.


July 1, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 30, 2017

From the Bookshelves: Islamophobia and Racism in America by Erik Love (2017)


Islamophobia and Racism in America by Erik Love (2017)

Confronting and combating Islamophobia in America.

Islamophobia has long been a part of the problem of racism in the United States, and it has only gotten worse in the wake of shocking terror attacks, the ongoing refugee crisis, and calls from public figures like Donald Trump for drastic action. As a result, the number of hate crimes committed against Middle Eastern Americans of all origins and religions have increased, and civil rights advocates struggle to confront this striking reality. 

In Islamophobia and Racism in America, Erik Love draws on in-depth interviews with Middle Eastern American advocates. He shows that, rather than using a well-worn civil rights strategy to advance reforms to protect a community affected by racism, many advocates are choosing to bolster universal civil liberties in the United States more generally, believing that these universal protections are reliable and strong enough to deal with social prejudice. In reality, Love reveals, civil rights protections are surprisingly weak, and do not offer enough avenues for justice, change, and community reassurance in the wake of hate crimes, discrimination, and social exclusion.  

A unique and timely study, Islamophobia and Racism in America wrestles with the disturbing implications of these findings for the persistence of racism—including Islamophobia—in the twenty-first century. As America becomes a “majority-minority” nation, this strategic shift in American civil rights advocacy signifies challenges in the decades ahead, making Love’s findings essential for anyone interested in the future of universal civil rights in the United States. 


June 30, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

At the Movies: Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan to Star in "The Foreigner"

Thursday, June 22, 2017

From the Bookshelves: We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh


We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa DiffenbaughVanessa Diffenbaugh 

From the beloved New York Times bestselling author of The Language of Flowers comes her much-anticipated new novel about young love, hard choices, and hope against all odds.
For fourteen years, Letty Espinosa has worked three jobs around San Francisco to make ends meet while her mother raised her children—Alex, fifteen, and Luna, just six—in their tiny apartment on a forgotten spit of wetlands near the bay. But now Letty’s parents are returning to Mexico, and Letty must step up and become a mother for the first time in her life.
Navigating this new terrain is challenging for Letty, especially as Luna desperately misses her grandparents and Alex, who is falling in love with a classmate, is unwilling to give his mother a chance. Letty comes up with a plan to help the family escape the dangerous neighborhood and heartbreaking injustice that have marked their lives, but one wrong move could jeopardize everything she’s worked for and her family’s fragile hopes for the future.
Vanessa Diffenbaugh blends gorgeous prose with compelling themes of motherhood, undocumented immigration, and the American Dream in a powerful and prescient story about family.

My friend and colleague Marisa S. Cianciarulo recommended this book on the Immprof listserve.


June 22, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Frost on Weil on Denaturalization and the Supreme Court: Maslenjak v. United States


Amanda Frost on SCOTUSBlog looks at Maslenjak v. United States, in which the Supreme Court will decide whether the government can revoke naturalization based on immaterial false statements made during the naturalization process. She states that "[a]lthough the issue is primarily one of statutory interpretation, major constitutional questions lurk beneath the surface. As Patrick Weil explains in his fascinating book, “The Sovereign Citizen: Denaturalization and the Origins of the American Republic,” 50 years ago the Supreme Court put a stop to the government’s once-common practice of denaturalization, and in the process `redefin[ed] the country’s understanding of sovereignty and citizenship.' The court’s decision in Maslenjak is likely to be informed by this legal and historical precedent."

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June 15, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 2, 2017



Book available here

David Bacon writes that the Trump administration may returning to workplace raids in immigration enforcement:

"At the end of February immigration agents descended on a handful of Japanese and Chinese restaurants in the suburbs of Jackson, Mississippi, and in nearby Meridian. Fifty-five immigrant cooks, dishwashers, servers and bussers were loaded into vans and taken to a detention center about 160 miles away in Jena, Louisiana.

Their arrests and subsequent treatment did more than provoke outrage among Jackson's immigrant rights activists. Labor advocates in California also took note of the incident, fearing that it marked the beginning of a new wave of immigrant raids and enforcement actions in workplaces. In response, California legislators have written a bill providing legal protections for workers, to keep the Mississippi experience from being duplicated in the Golden State.

Once the Mississippi restaurant workers had been arrested, they essentially fell off the radar screen for several days. Jackson lawyer Jeremy Litton, who represented three Guatemalan workers picked up in the raid, could not get the government to schedule hearing dates for them.  He was unable to verify that the other detained immigrants were being held in the same center, or even who they were."


June 2, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)