Wednesday, March 22, 2017




In this new book, One Nation Undecided: Clear Thinking About Five Hard Issues That Divide Us (Princeton UP, 2017), Schuck first analyzes the factors that make "hard" issues hard, explore the quality of public debate about them, and explain what the title means by "clear thinking." Chapters 2 through 6 are devoted to detailed analyses of five hard issues: poverty, immigration, campaign finance, affirmative action, and religious exemptions from secular rules after the Hobby Lobby and Obergefell decisions. Each chapter begins by presenting the issue's context -- the relevant history, law, institutions, politics, and public opinion. Next, it disaggregates the issue into its main components. Beginning with key definitional and measurement questions (as in the case of poverty), it then elaborates the competing norms invoked by different groups and identifies the key factual claims and uncertainties. (Those who dominate public debates on these issues often suppress or ignore these uncertainties, either deliberately or because of their own ignorance.) Finally, each chapter discusses the nature and performance of current federal policies directed at that issue, and the reform options. A concluding chapter explores the similar and dissimilar underlying structures of the five issues.


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

Monday, March 6, 2017

From the Bookshelves: Why Walls Won't Work: Repairing the US-Mexico Divide by Michael Dear


Why Walls Won't Work:   Repairing the US-Mexico Divide by Michael Dear (Oxford University Press, 2015 edition)

Why Walls Won't Work is a sweeping account of life along the United States-Mexico border zone, tracing the border's history of cultural interaction since the earliest Mesoamerican times to the present day. As soon as Mexicans, American settlers, and indigenous peoples came into contact along the Rio Grande in the mid-nineteenth century, new forms of interaction and affiliation evolved. By the late-twentieth century, the border states were among the fastest-growing regions in both countries. But as Michael Dear warns, this vibrant zone of economic, cultural and social connectivity is today threatened by highly restrictive American immigration and security policies as well as violence along the border. The U.S. border-industrial complex and the emerging Mexican narco-state are undermining the very existence of the "third nation" occupying the space between Mexico and the U.S. Through a series of evocative portraits of contemporary border communities, Dear reveals how the promise and potential of this "in-between" nation still endures and is worth protecting.

Now with a new chapter updating this story and suggesting what should be done about the challenges confronting the cross-border zone, Why Walls Won't Work represents a major intellectual intervention into one of the most hotly-contested political issues of our era.

Dear in this post on The Conversation looks at the interrelationship between Mexicans and Americans in the US/Mexico border region.  Needless to say, Dear is not an adherent to Present Trump's proposal to build a "big, beautiful wall."


March 6, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 4, 2017

To Read or Not to Read? Green Card Warrior: My Quest for Legal Immigration in an Illegals’ System by Nick Adams


In a tweet early Friday morning, President Trump hailed Nick Adams’s new book, Green Card Warrior,” as a “must read,” suggesting that it offered lessons on how to reimagine the U.S. immigration system. Carlos Lozada writing for the Washington Post disagrees:

"Well, now I’ve read it, and it is not a must read. If not for the president’s endorsement, the book would barely rate a must acknowledge. It is, however, a must laugh, a must groan, and, if “Green Card Warrior” is indeed where Trump is finding ideas for immigration reform, it is also a you must be kidding me."

The official abstract of the book Green Card Warrior: My Quest for Legal Immigration in an Illegals’ System by Nick Adams reads as  follows:

"Nick Adams had it all: charisma, energy, a promising TV career, a new organization and an approved Green Card petition. The world was at his feet. 

Then came the unexpected sabotage and political persecution from one individual. It began a spiral of destruction – finances, family, health and career. He almost lost it all.

Green Card Warrior is an explosive and startling exposé into the world of legal immigration and what many must endure to come to America. 

Rising conservative star Nick Adams reveals how he was persecuted by the Obama Administration, and offers an incisive critique of the immigration system – both legal and illegal. 

This eye-opening account shows how the Obama Administration has broken new ground in its intimidation and harassment of political opponents, now using its State Department to screen and select immigrants based on their politics. 

In Green Card Warrior, Adams recounts his personal tale, setting it against the larger story of the broken legal immigration system, and unfairness of illegal immigration in America today."                               

Nick Adams is the Founder and Executive Director of FLAG, The Foundation for Liberty and American Greatness. He is a speaker, lecturer, author and commentator. Adams holds degrees in Media and Communications, Government and International Relations, Germanic Studies, and Education from the University of Sydney.


March 4, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 3, 2017

From the Bookshelves: Neocitizenship Political Culture after Democracy by Eva Cherniavsky (NYU Press 2017)

Nyu press

Neocitizenship Political Culture after Democracy by Eva Cherniavsky (NYU Press 2017)

Neocitizenship explores how the constellation of political and economic forces of neoliberalism have assailed and arguably dismantled the institutions of modern democratic governance in the U.S.  As overtly oligarchical structures of governance replace the operations of representative democracy, the book addresses the implications of this crisis for the practices and imaginaries of citizenship through the lens of popular culture.  Rather than impugn the abject citizen-subject who embraces her degraded condition, Eva Cherniavsky asks what new or hybrid forms of civic agency emerge as popular sovereignty recedes.               

Drawing on a range of political theories, Neocitizenship also suggests that theory is at a disadvantage in thinking the historical present, since its analytical categories are wrought in the very historical contexts whose dissolution we now seek to comprehend. Cherniavsky thus supplements theory with a focus on popular culture that explores  the  de-democratization for citizenship in more generative and undecided ways.  Tracing the contours of neocitizenship in fiction through examples such as The White Boy Shuffle and Distraction, television shows like Battlestar Galactica, and in the design of American studies abroad, Neocitizenship aims to take the measure of a transformation in process, while evading the twin lures of optimism and regret.


March 3, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Times They Are a Changing: Immigration Headlines in a Time of Trump


It has been a wild and wooly few weeks in the U.S. immigration world.  The headlines tell us just how much immigration enforcement has changed with the inauguration of President Trump.  As the New York Times reports, immigration officers feel emboldened by the Trump administration's support for aggressive enforcement measures. It thus seems likely that we will see more events like those described below in coming weeks, months, and years.

News from Florida

The son of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, born and raised in Kentucky, USA, was detained for hours by immigration officials at a Florida airport. Muhammad Ali Jr., 44, and his mother Khalilah Camacho-Ali, the second wife of Muhammad Ali, were arriving at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Feb. 7 after returning from speaking at a Black History Month event in Montego Bay, Jamaica. They were pulled aside while going through customs because of their Arabic-sounding names, according to family friend and lawyer Chris Mancini. Immigration officials let Camacho-Ali go after she showed them a photo of herself with her ex-husband, but her son did not have such a photo and wasn't as lucky. Mancini said officials held and questioned Ali Jr. for nearly two hours, repeatedly asking him, "Where did you get your name from?" and "Are you Muslim?



News from California

Australia’s best-loved children’s author, Mem Fox, was left sobbing and shaken after being detained for two hours and aggressively interrogated by immigration officials at Los Angeles International airport.  Fox says she’s unlikely to ever travel to the United States again after being made to feel like “a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay.”


News from Mississippi

The Los Angeles Times reports on immigration raids at a string Asian restaurants in Mississippi.  It now appears that my colleague Jack Chin's analysis of "The War on Chinese Restaurants," can be updated to include the immigration operations of the 21st century.


February 25, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 24, 2017

From the Bookshelves: Mestizos Come Home! Making and Claiming Mexican American Identity By: Robert Con Davis-Undiano


Mestizos Come Home!

Making and Claiming Mexican American Identity

By Robert Con Davis-Undiano

Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano has described U.S. and Latin American culture as continually hobbled by amnesia—unable, or unwilling, to remember the influence of mestizos and indigenous populations. In Mestizos Come Home! author Robert Con Davis-Undiano documents the great awakening of Mexican American and Latino culture since the 1960s that has challenged this omission in collective memory. He maps a new awareness of the United States as intrinsically connected to the broader context of the Americas. At once native and new to the American Southwest, Mexican Americans have “come home” in a profound sense: they have reasserted their right to claim that land and U.S. culture as their own.

Mestizos Come Home! explores key areas of change that Mexican Americans have brought to the United States. These areas include the recognition of mestizo identity, especially its historical development across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; the re-emergence of indigenous relationships to land; and the promotion of Mesoamerican conceptions of the human body. Clarifying and bridging critical gaps in cultural history, Davis-Undiano considers important artifacts from the past and present, connecting the casta (caste) paintings of eighteenth-century Mexico to modern-day artists including John Valadez, Alma López, and Luis A. Jiménez Jr. He also examines such community celebrations as Day of the Dead, Cinco de Mayo, and lowrider car culture as examples of mestizo influence on mainstream American culture. Woven throughout is the search for meaning and understanding of mestizo identity.

A large-scale landmark account of Mexican American culture, Mestizos Come Home! shows that mestizos are essential to U.S. national culture. As an argument for social justice and a renewal of America’s democratic ideals, this book marks a historical cultural homecoming.


February 24, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

From the Bookshelves: The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen


The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Viet Thanh Nguyen's The Sympathizer was one of the most widely and highly praised novels of 2015, the winner not only of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, but also the Center for Fiction Debut Novel Prize, the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, the ALA Carnegie Medal for Fiction, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and the California Book Award for First Fiction. Nguyen's next fiction book, The Refugees, is a collection of perfectly formed stories written over a period of twenty years, exploring questions of immigration, identity, love, and family.

With the coruscating gaze that informed The Sympathizer, in The Refugees Viet Thanh Nguyen gives voice to lives led between two worlds, the adopted homeland and the country of birth. From a young Vietnamese refugee who suffers profound culture shock when he comes to live with two gay men in San Francisco, to a woman whose husband is suffering from dementia and starts to confuse her for a former lover, to a girl living in Ho Chi Minh City whose older half-sister comes back from America having seemingly accomplished everything she never will, the stories are a captivating testament to the dreams and hardships of immigration. The second piece of fiction by a major new voice in American letters, The Refugees is a beautifully written and sharply observed book about the aspirations of those who leave one country for another, and the relationships and desires for self-fulfillment that define our lives.

February 21, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

From The Bookshelves: Remezcla's Stop Trump Reading List

Can't take the news? Want to escape it all yet nonetheless continue the fight? Try picking up a little something off of Remezcla's Stop Trump Reading List.

Some of the suggestions may be familiar to our readers - like No One Is Illegal by Justin Akers Chacón and Mike Davis. Other might be new. Personally, I'm intrigued by Rebecca Solnit’s Hope In The Dark.

Happy reading.


February 1, 2017 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 20, 2017

From the Bookshelves: Al-Tounsi: A Novel by Anton Piatigorsky


Al-Tounsi: A Novel by Anton Piatigorsky (2017)

Al-Tounsi is the debut novel by the award-winning playwright, Anton Piatigorsky, and tells the story of the US Supreme Court’s handling of a landmark case involving the rights of detainees held in a US military base. Although the novel follows the case as it maneuvers through the minds and hands of the Justices—the larger-than-life Killian Quinn in the throes of a dangerous affair, the ambitious but insecure Gideon Rosen desperate to make his mark on history, the famed feminist Sarah Kolmann staring down the prospect of losing her husband to cancer--it is ultimately shepherded by one Justice in particular, Rodney Sykes, who begins the novel in emotional crisis. After his wife’s sudden death a year earlier, his relationship with Cassandra, his grown daughter, is in tatters, and he feels unable to repair it. As news of Cassandra’s affair with her boss, a prominent circuit court Judge, comes to light, Rodney confronts his own repression and demons, and gradually allows his private life to influence his legal reasoning.

Al-Tounsi explores in detail how the personal stories and life dramas, career rivalries and political sympathies of these titans blend with their philosophies to create the most important legal decisions of our time.


January 20, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

From the Bookshelves: Out of the Shadows, Into the Streets! Transmedia Organizing and the Immigrant Rights Movement by Sasha Costanza-Chock


Out of the Shadows, Into the Streets! Transmedia Organizing and the Immigrant Rights Movement by Sasha Costanza-Chock 

For decades, social movements have vied for attention from the mainstream mass media — newspapers, radio, and television. Today, many argue that social media power social movements, from the Egyptian revolution to Occupy Wall Street. Yet, as Sasha Costanza-Chock reports, community organizers know that social media enhance, rather than replace, face-to-face organizing. The revolution will be tweeted, but tweets alone do not the revolution make. In Out of the Shadows, Into the Streets!, Costanza-Chock traces a much broader social movement media ecology. Through a richly detailed account of daily media practices in the immigrant rights movement, he argues that there is a new paradigm of social movement media making: transmedia organizing. Despite the current spotlight on digital media, he finds, social movement media practices tend to be cross-platform, participatory, and linked to action. Immigrant rights organizers leverage social media creatively, even as they create media ranging from posters and street theater to Spanish-language radio, print, and television.

Drawing on extensive interviews, workshops, and media organizing projects, Costanza-Chock presents case studies of transmedia organizing in the immigrant rights movement over the last decade.  Chapters focus on the historic mass protests against the anti-immigrant Sensenbrenner Bill; coverage of police brutality against peaceful activists; efforts to widen access to digital media tools and skills for low-wage immigrant workers; paths to participation in DREAM activism; and the implications of professionalism for transmedia organizing. These cases show us how savvy transmedia organizers work to strengthen movement identity, win political and economic victories, and transform public consciousness forever.


January 19, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

From the Bookshelves: Fragomen on Immigration Fundamentals (Fifth Edition)


Offering in-depth coverage of bedrock immigration legislation, the latest federal standards, and pivotal court decisions, Fragomen on Immigration Fundamentals (Fifth Edition) gives you the legal knowledge to work more efficiently with employers, aliens, nonimmigrants, refugees, naturalized citizens, and government officials. Click here to read a sample chapter.

Fragomen on Immigration Fundamentals is regularly updated to keep you apprised of developments in immigration law, including the 2016 Supreme Court decision in which an equally divided Court left in place the lower courts' ruling to block implementation of the expanded DACA and DAPA programs.


January 18, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Contrasting Trump and Obama Inaugeration Posters


Poster by Shepard Fairey / via Amplifier Foundation

President-Elect Trump will be inaugurated on Friday.  PBS reminds us that, eight years ago, a poster designed by Shepard Fairey became the iconic image of the 2008 presidential campaign. The “HOPE” poster, featuring an image of Barack Obama, began with a print run of just 350, and spread after it was distributed on the street, at rallies and online. Now, the graphic artist, muralist, illustrator and activist is back with another street art campaign called “We the People” for President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration. See above.  Note that the new president’s face won’t be on it.


Shepard has created three portraits for the campaign; two other artists, Colombian American muralist Jessica Sabogal and and Chicano graphic artist Ernesto Yerena, have each made one more. Together, they hope the faces of “We the People” — standing in for traditionally marginalized groups or those specifically targeted during Trump’s presidential campaign — will flood Washington, D.C., on Inauguration Day.

Fairey is collaborating with the Amplifier Foundation, a nonprofit that works to amplify grassroots movements and which commissioned the project. After learning that large-sized signs were prohibited at Inauguration, Amplifier came up with a hack to distribute the posters. Their plan: to buy full-page ads in the Washington Post on Jan. 20 that feature the “We the People” images, which can be torn out and carried as placards, or hung and posted around town. The posters will also be distributed at metro stops, from moving vans and other drop spots on Inauguration Day, as well as posted online for free download. A Kickstarter campaign for “We the People” has raised more than $148,000 since it was launched Tuesday night. 


“We the People” posters by Shepard Fairey, Ernesto Yerena and Jessica Sabogal / Amplifier Foundation


January 15, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs, Film & Television, Photos | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

From the Bookshelves: Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran


Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran (2017).  A novel.

January 12, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 31, 2016

From the Bookshelves: Contesting Immigration Policy in Court: Legal Activism and Its Radiating Effects in the United States and France by Leila Kawar


Contesting Immigration Policy in Court: Legal Activism and Its Radiating Effects in the United States and France (Cambridge Studies in Law and Society) by Leila Kawar (Cambridge University Press, 2015).

What difference does law make in immigration policymaking? Since the 1970s, networks of progressive attorneys in both the US and France have attempted to use litigation to assert rights for non-citizens. Yet judicial engagement - while numerically voluminous - remains doctrinally curtailed. This study offers new insights into the constitutive role of law in immigration policymaking by focusing on the legal frames, narratives, and performances forged through action in court. Challenging the conventional wisdom that 'cause litigation' has little long-term impact on policymaking unless it produces broad rights-protective principles, this book shows that legal contestation can have important radiating effects on policy by reshaping how political actors approach immigration issues. Based on extensive fieldwork in the United States and France, this book explores the paths by which litigation has effected policy change in two paradigmatically different national contexts.

In a review of the book, Michael T. Light (Purdue) observes that,

"As Professor Kawar points out, she is not the first to address this question. A considerable amount research has investigated the efficacy of shaping migration policy through legal interventions. That is, can the courts be a useful venue for constraining restrictionist immigration policies? In Professor Kawar’s assessment, the conventional wisdom resulting from this body of work is that the law has little impact on immigration policy matters (p. 153). In CONTESTING IMMIGRATION POLICY IN COURT, Professor Kawar makes a compelling and provocative argument for why this view is premature, or at the very least, incomplete. Her main thesis is that prior research in this area has focused too narrowly on official case dispositions and the degree to which these legal rules limit immigration policies. As a result, “we neglect to consider how the process of contesting immigration policy in court may constitute the very terms of immigration politics” (p. 10). This book seeks to address this oversight. "


December 31, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

From the Bookshelves: A Cuban Love Affair by Bill Kirksey


A Cuban Love Affair by Bill Kirksey

Looking back, it seems improbable.

In 1980, Cuban President Fidel Castro opened the doors for anyone who wished to leave Cuba, promising they would be free to go. In turn, President Jimmy Carter said that all those who could find passage from Cuba would receive political asylum in the United States.

Enter the Los Angeles-based Kirksey family, made up of Bill, his Cuban-born wife Marta, and their thirteen-year-old son Dan. Bill, the kind of guy who often jumped into things without first thoroughly investigating them, believed this was a “seize the moment” opportunity.

In the newly published book A Cuban Love Affair, A. Baxter Rothchild reveals how Bill, Marta, and Dan flew from California to Miami and bought a boat. Their plan was to travel to Cuba, dock in Mariel Harbor, load up Marta’s few family members who wished to leave, and be back in the U.S. in just a few days.

Bill’s naïvete was soon put to the test. Treacherous waters both literal and figurative made navigating to freedom in the U.S. far more of an adventure than he ever could have imagined.

Assisted by four Cuban refugees from Miami, including a superb fisherman/sailor who expertly captained the boat, the group of seven found themselves with a far larger number of family members wanting to leave Cuba than they’d expected – a grand total of 38. What’s more, they soon found themselves “caught between two very determined governments with different agendas.”

After striking a “grand bargain” with the Cuban government, Bill, Marta, and Dan managed to bring Marta’s family to the U.S., but their victory was complicated when Marta’s immediate family members were suddenly placed in a U.S. government detention camp.

The story of how Bill went on the attack to secure their release, the media attention they received as the first Cuban-born individuals to gain freedom from U.S. incarceration, and the back story of Bill’s and Marta’s lifelong love affair make this colorful true adventure a riveting account of courage, determination, and empathy for others.

Bill comments, “For many years, those who heard about our adventure in Cuba often said it would make a great book or movie. I started writing several times, but other demands made it difficult to focus. Finally, when Cuba came into the limelight after President Obama and the Pope showed interest, it seemed this was the correct moment to get the story out.”

Author: Bill Kirksey is a businessman who has worked for over 50 years in the insurance industry. He is a person with high energy and a love for life covering a multitude of personal interests, including music, camping, fishing, and hiking. Bill became a weekend rancher to balance his fast-paced office routine. A people person who makes acquaintances easily and holds dear friends closely, he now sees a future in writing and publishing in addition to his other interests.


December 14, 2016 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Book of the Year: John Lennon vs. The U.S.A. by Leon Wildes



Our Immigration Book of the Year (2017) has a good immigration story, rock 'n roll, an American President, and a worldwide rock star and his famous partner  at the center.  What else could you want in a book?  The Immigration Book of the Year for 2017 is:

John Lennon vs. The U.S.A.: The Inside Story of the Most Bitterly Contested and Influential Deportation Case in United States History by Leon Wildes

For the last few years, one of the hot issues in U.S. immigration law was the expanded deferred action programs proposed by President Obama to protect from removal millions of  undocumented immigrants  in the United States.  In light of that national controversy, the 1972 John Lennon deportation case takes on special relevance today.

New York immigration attorney Leon Wildes tells the incredible story of this landmark case – John Lennon vs. The U.S.A. -- that set up a battle of wills between John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and President Richard Nixon. Although Wildes did not even know who John Lennon and Yoko Ono were when he was originally retained by them, he developed a close relationship with them both during the eventual five-year period while he represented them and thereafter. The book offers the story of their battle with the U.S. government.



December 14, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Ann Coulter: ‘Sounds like the big sell-out is coming’ from Trump on immigration

Sounds like the big sell-out is coming. Oh well. The voters did what we could. If Trump sells out, it's not our fault. 


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

From the Bookshelves: IMMIGRATION JUDGES AND U.S. ASYLUM POLICY, by Banks Miller, Linda Camp Keith, and Jennifer S. Holmes


IMMIGRATION JUDGES AND U.S. ASYLUM POLICY, by Banks Miller, Linda Camp Keith, and Jennifer S. Holmes (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016)

Although there are legal norms to secure the uniform treatment of asylum claims in the United States, anecdotal and empirical evidence suggest that strategic and economic interests also influence asylum outcomes. Previous research has demonstrated considerable variation in how immigration judges decide seemingly similar cases, which implies a host of legal concerns—not the least of which is whether judicial bias is more determinative of the decision to admit those fleeing persecution to the United States than is the merit of the claim. These disparities also raise important policy considerations about how to fix what many perceive to be a broken adjudication system.

With theoretical sophistication and empirical rigor, Immigration Judges and U.S. Asylum Policy investigates more than 500,000 asylum cases that were decided by U.S. immigration judges between 1990 and 2010. The authors find that judges treat certain facts about an asylum applicant more objectively than others: facts determined to be legally relevant tend to be treated similarly by judges of different political ideologies, while facts considered extralegal are treated subjectively. Furthermore, the authors examine how local economic and political conditions as well as congressional reforms have affected outcomes in asylum cases, concluding with a series of policy recommendations aimed at improving the quality of immigration law decision making rather than trying to reduce disparities between decision makers.

Here is a review of the book, which concludes that it is an important contribution to the literature.


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

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Immigration Article of the Day: The U Visa's Failed Promise for Survivors of Domestic Violence by Natalie Nanasi


The U Visa's Failed Promise for Survivors of Domestic Violence by

Natalie Nanasi

Southern Methodist University - Dedman School of Law
November 19, 2016


Recognizing the unique vulnerabilities of immigrants who become victims of crime in the United States, Congress enacted the U visa, a form of immigration relief that provides victims, including survivors of domestic violence, a path to legal status. Along with this humanitarian aim, the U visa was intended to aid law enforcement in efforts to investigate and prosecute crime, based on the notion that victims without legal status might otherwise be too fearful to “come out of the shadows” by reporting offenses to the police. Although these two goals were purportedly coequal, in practice, by requiring survivors to cooperate with law enforcement in order to obtain U nonimmigrant status, the benefits to police and prosecutors are achieved at the expense of the victims Congress sought to protect, exacerbating the very vulnerabilities the U visa was intended to address.

This article posits that this marginalization of immigrant victims’ interest should have been foreseen, as U visa requirements are analogous to other mandatory interventions in cases of domestic violence that have disempowered and destabilized survivors, particularly poor women of color. In tracing the history of the public response to domestic violence, from the time when spousal abuse was ignored or condoned to the overcorrection that has led to compulsory state involvement in women’s lives, it becomes clear that the U visa has perpetuated the swing of the pendulum away from victim autonomy and toward an aggressive criminal justice response to domestic violence. This article details why such a shift is particularly damaging for immigrant survivors – due to language barriers, complicated relationships with police, familial ties and economic constraints – and proposes novel solutions that mitigate the harmful effects of the U visa certification requirement and break away from ineffective conventions surrounding assistance for survivors of domestic violence.


December 3, 2016 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: Undocumented Immigrants in an Era of Arbitrary Law:  The Flight and the Plight of People Deemed 'Illegal' by Robert F. Barsky


Undocumented Immigrants in an Era of Arbitrary Law:  The Flight and the Plight of People Deemed 'Illegal' by Robert F. Barsky

This book describes the experiences of undocumented migrants, all around the world, bringing to life the challenges they face from the moment they consider leaving their country of origin, until the time they are deported back to it. Drawing on a broad array of academic studies, including law, interpretation and translation studies, border studies, human rights, communication, critical discourse analysis and sociology, Robert Barsky argues that the arrays of actions that are taken against undocumented migrants are often arbitrary, and exercised by an array of officials who can and do exercise considerable discretion, both positive and negative.

Employing insights from a decade-long research project, Barsky also finds that every stop along the migrant’s pathway into, and inside of, the host country is strewn with language issues, relating to intercultural communication, interpretation, gossip, hearsay, and the challenges of peddling of linguistic wares in the social discourse marketplace. These language issues are almost always impediments to anodyne or productive interactions with host country officials, particularly on the "front-lines" where migrants encounter border patrol and law enforcement officers without adequate means of communicating their situation or understanding their rights. Since undocumented people are categorized as ‘illegal’, they can be subjected to abuse and exploitation by host country officials, who can choose to either tolerate or punish them on the basis of unpredictable, changeable, and even illusory or "arbitrary" laws and regulations.

Citing experts at every level of the undocumented immigrant apparatuses worldwide, from public defenders to interpreters, Barsky concludes that the only viable policy to address prevailing abuses and inequalities is to move towards open borders, an approach that would address prevailing issues and, surprisingly, provide security and economic benefits to both host and home countries.


December 3, 2016 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)