Thursday, December 24, 2015

Refugee of the Day: Valentino Achak Deng (South Sudan)


 Valentino Achak Deng, Co-founder of the Valentino Achak Deng (VAD) Foundation

Valentino Deng was born in Marial Bai in present-day South Sudan. He fled in the late 1980s during the second Sudanese civil war, when his village was destroyed by the militia murahaleen. He was among thousands of displaced youth, known as the “Lost Boys” of Sudan. Deng spent nine years in Ethiopian and Kenyan refugee camps, where he worked for the UNHCR as a social advocate and reproductive health educator. In 2001, he was resettled to Atlanta, GA. Deng has toured the U.S. speaking about his life in South Sudan, his experience as a refugee, and his collaboration with author Dave Eggers on What Is the What, the novelized version of Deng’s life story.

Deng and Eggers founded the VAD Foundation in 2006 to help rebuild South Sudanese communities by increasing educational access. 





December 24, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

J.K. Rowling: The Trump is Voldemort!

Monday, December 21, 2015

From the Bookshelves: Refugees from Armed Conflict: The 1951 Refugee Convention and International Humanitarian Law by Vanessa Holzer

Refugees from armed conflict

Refugees from Armed Conflict: The 1951 Refugee Convention and International Humanitarian Law by Vanessa Holzer

Armed conflicts are a major cause of forced displacement, but people displaced by conflict are often not recognized as refugees under the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. They are frequently considered as having fled from generalized violence rather than from persecution. This book determines the international meaning of the refugee definition in Article 1A(2) of the Convention as regards refugee protection claims related to situations of armed conflict in the country of origin. Although the human rights based interpretation of the refugee definition is widely accepted, the interpretation and application of the Convention as regards claims to refugee status that relate to armed conflict is often marred with difficulties. Moreover, contexts of armed conflict pose the question of whether and to what extent the refugee definition should be interpreted in light of international humanitarian law. This book identifies the potential and limits of this interpretative approach. Starting from the history of international refugee law, the book situates the 1951 Convention within the international legal framework for the protection of the individual in armed conflict. It examines the refugee definition in light of human rights, international humanitarian law, and international criminal law, focusing on the elements of the refugee definition that most benefit from this interpretative approach: persecution and the requirement that the refugee claimant's predicament must be causally linked to the race, religion, nationality, and/or membership of a particular social group or political opinion.


December 21, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

From the Bookshelves: The Economics of Immigration: Market-Based Approaches, Social Science, and Public Policy by Benjamin Powell, editor



The Economics of Immigration: Market-Based Approaches, Social Science, and Public Policy by Benjamin Powell, editor, Oxford University Press 2015

The Economics of Immigration summarizes the best social science studying the actual impact of immigration, which is found to be at odds with popular fears. Greater flows of immigration have the potential to substantially increase world income and reduce extreme poverty. Existing evidence indicates that immigration slightly enhances the wealth of natives born in destination countries while doing little to harm the job prospects or reduce the wages of most of the native-born population. Similarly, although a matter of debate, most credible scholarly estimates of the net fiscal impact of current migration find only small positive or negative impacts. Importantly, current generations of immigrants do not appear to be assimilating more slowly than prior waves. Although the range of debate on the consequences of immigration is much narrower in scholarly circles than in the general public, that does not mean that all social scientists agree on what a desirable immigration policy embodies. The second half of this book contains three chapters, each by a social scientist who is knowledgeable of the scholarship summarized in the first half of the book, which argue for very different policy immigration policies. One proposes to significantly cut current levels of immigration. Another suggests an auction market for immigration permits. The third proposes open borders. The final chapter surveys the policy opinions of other immigration experts and explores the factors that lead reasonable social scientists to disagree on matters of immigration policy.

Table of Contents

 1. Introduction  Benjamin Powell


2. The Economic Effects of International Labor Mobility  Peter T. Leeson and Zachary Gochenour

3. The Fiscal Impact of Immigration   Alex Nowrasteh

4. The Civic and Cultural Assimilation of Immigrants to the United States   Jacob Vigdor

5. Employment VISAs: An International Comparison Alexandre Padilla and Nicolás Cachanosky


6. Immigration Reform: A Modest Proposal   Richard K. Vedder

7. Immigration's Future: A Pathway to Legalization and Assimilation  Herbert London

8. A Radical Case for Open Borders   Bryan Caplan and Vipul Naik

9. Conclusion: Alternative Policy Perspectives   Benjamin Powell


December 20, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

From the Bookshelves: Human Rights In Children’s Literature: Imagination And The Narrative Of Law by Jonathan Todres and Sarah Higinbotham


Human Rights In Children’s Literature: Imagination And The Narrative Of Law by Jonathan Todres and Sarah Higinbotham, Oxford University Press 2015

How can children grow to realize their inherent rights and to respect the rights of others? And how are human rights norms disseminated so that they make a difference in children’s lives? In this book, Jonathan Todres and Sarah Higinbotham explore these questions through both human rights law and the texts much close to young people’s lives: children’s literature. Both international and domestic law affirm that children have rights. Human rights education research demonstrates that when children learn about human rights, they exhibit greater self-esteem and respect for the rights of others. The Convention on the Rights of the Child ─ the most widely-ratified human rights treaty ─ not only ensures that children have rights, it also requires that states make those rights "widely known, by appropriate and active means, to adults and children alike." This first-of-its-kind requirement for a human rights treaty indicates that if rights are to be meaningful to the lives of children, then government and civil society must engage with those rights in ways that are relevant to children.

Human Rights in Children's Literature investigates children's rights under international law ─ identity and family rights, the right to be heard, the right to be free from discrimination, and other civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights ─ and considers the way in which those rights are embedded in children's literature from Peter Rabbit to Horton Hears a Who! to Harry Potter. This book traverses children's rights law, literary theory, and human rights education to argue that in order for children to fully realize their human rights, they first have to imagine and understand them.



December 16, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

From the Bookshelves: Making Foreigners: Immigration and Citizenship Law in America, 1600-2000 by Kunal M. Parker


Making Foreigners: Immigration and Citizenship Law in America, 1600-2000 by Kunal M. Parker, cambrige University Press 2015.

This book reconceptualizes the history of U.S. immigration and citizenship law from the colonial period to the beginning of the twenty-first century by joining the histories of immigrants to those of Native Americans, African Americans, women, Asian Americans, Latino/a Americans, and the poor. Kunal Parker argues that during the earliest stages of American history, being legally constructed as a foreigner, along with being subjected to restrictions on presence and movement, was not confined to those who sought to enter the country from the outside, but was also used against those on the inside. Insiders thus shared important legal disabilities with outsiders. It is only over the course of four centuries, with the spread of formal and substantive citizenship among the domestic population, a hardening distinction between citizen and alien, and the rise of a powerful centralized state, that the uniquely disabled legal subject we recognize today as the immigrant has emerged. The book advances new ways of understanding the relationship between foreignness and subordination over the long span of American history.


December 15, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 13, 2015

From the Bookshelves: The El Mozote Massacre: Human Rights and Global Implications (Revised and Expanded Edition Revised Edition) by Dr. Leigh Binford


The El Mozote Massacre: Human Rights and Global Implications Revised and Expanded Edition Revised Edition by Dr. Leigh Binford

 In 1981, more than a thousand civilians around El Mozote, El Salvador, were slaughtered by the country’s U.S.-trained army. The story was covered—and soon forgotten—by the international news media. In the first edition of The El Mozote Massacre, released in 1996, anthropologist Leigh Binford successfully restores a social identity to the massacre victims through his dissection of Third World human rights reporting and a rich ethnographic and personal account of El Mozote–area residents prior to the massacre.

Almost two decades later, the consequences of the massacre continue to reverberate through the country’s legal and socioeconomic systems. The El Mozote Massacre, 2nd Edition, which will be released in March 2016, brings together new evidence to address reconstruction, historical memory, and human rights issues resulting from what may be the largest massacre in modern Latin American history.

With a multitude of additions, including three new chapters, an extended chronology, discussion of the hearing and ruling of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in 2012, and evidence gathered throughout half a dozen field trips made by the author, Binford presents a current perspective on the effects of this tragic moment in history. Thanks to geographically expanded fieldwork, Binford offers critical discussion of postwar social, economic, religious, and social justice in El Mozote, and adds important new regional, national, and global contexts.

The El Mozote Massacre, 2nd Edition maintains the crucial presence of the massacre in human rights discussions for El Salvador, Latin America, and the world.


December 13, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

From the Bookshelves: Lives in Limbo: Undocumented and Coming of Age in America by Roberto G. Gonzales

Lives in Limbo: Undocumented and Coming of Age in America by Roberto G. Gonzales, University of California Press, 2015

Over two million of the nation’s eleven million undocumented immigrants have lived in the United States since childhood. Due to a broken immigration system, they grow up to uncertain futures. In Lives in Limbo, Roberto G. Gonzales introduces us to two groups: the college-goers, like Ricardo, who had good grades and a strong network of community support that propelled him to college and DREAM Act organizing but still landed in a factory job a few short years after graduation, and the early-exiters, like Gabriel, who failed to make meaningful connections in high school and started navigating dead-end jobs, immigration checkpoints, and a world narrowly circumscribed by legal limitations. This vivid ethnography explores why highly educated undocumented youth share similar work and life outcomes with their less-educated peers, despite the fact that higher education is touted as the path to integration and success in America. Mining the results of an extraordinary twelve-year study that followed 150 undocumented young adults in Los Angeles, Lives in Limbo exposes the failures of a system that integrates children into K-12 schools but ultimately denies them the rewards of their labor.



December 10, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 7, 2015

From the Bookshelves: The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail by Jason De León


The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail by Jason De León.   Michæl Wells (Photographer). University of California Press, 2015

In his gripping and provocative debut, anthropologist Jason De León sheds light on one of the most pressing political issues of our time—the human consequences of US immigration policyThe Land of Open Graves reveals the suffering and deaths that occur daily in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona as thousands of undocumented migrants attempt to cross the border from Mexico into the United States.

Drawing on the four major fields of anthropology, De León uses an innovative combination of ethnography, archaeology, linguistics, and forensic science to produce a scathing critique of “Prevention through Deterrence,” the federal border enforcement policy that encourages migrants to cross in areas characterized by extreme environmental conditions and high risk of death. For two decades, this policy has failed to deter border crossers while successfully turning the rugged terrain of southern Arizona into a killing field.

In harrowing detail, De León chronicles the journeys of people who have made dozens of attempts to cross the border and uncovers the stories of the objects and bodies left behind in the desert.

The Land of Open Graves will spark debate and controversy.


December 7, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

From the Bookshelves: Violetta Armour, I'll Always Be With You

Violetta Armour holds family close to her heart, a concept she hopes to share in her new book I’ll Always Be With You.” Drawing from her own experience as a first-generation American with Bulgarian roots, Armour tells the story of Teddy, a young boy who has lost his father and finds comfort in a book his great-grandfather carried with him to America. Through this life-changing book, Teddy embraces his origins and finds the peace of mind he’s been looking for. “I’ll Always Be With You” offers insight into the trials of facing racial tensions and prejudices while encouraging the celebration of culture and traditions.


November 10, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Book Review: Ingrid Eagly on Crimmigration Law by César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández


Book Review: Crimmigration Law by César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, the American Bar Association 2015, 281 pages by Ingrid V. Eagly

Crimmigration Law, published by the American Bar Association earlier this year, is the first text book dedicated to exploring the connection between immigration law and criminal law in the United States. The book’s author, César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, is one of the leading scholars in a growing field that studies the increasing merger of criminal justice and migration control. This new field, sometimes referred to as “crimmigration law,” reflects the on-the-ground reality of changes in law and practice that have blurred the lines between criminal and immigration enforcement. The immigration system is increasingly relying on criminal mechanisms, such as detention in prisons and jails, to enforce the immigration law. At the same time, the criminal system now plays a central role in adjudicating immigration status, including detecting noncitizens subject to deportation and advising defendants on the immigration consequences of criminal convictions.

Crimmigration Law makes a grand entry as a foundational text. The book not only familiarizes readers with some of the key debates about immigration enforcement and the criminalization of migration, but it also provides an on-the-ground primer to the thorny doctrinal law that practitioners of immigration and criminal law must master. On the immigration law side, García Hernández shows his readers how deportation can result from criminal conduct or criminal convictions, and how detention is a tool that is increasingly being used to expand the deportation system. On the criminal law side, García Hernández reveals how immigrants face punitive sanctions in both the state and federal criminal justice systems for conduct such as unlawful entry into the country or possession of false documents. He also has an excellent chapter on the Sixth Amendment obligation of criminal defense counsel to advise noncitizens as to the potential immigration consequences of a guilty plea. Each chapter is supplemented by an informative bibliography of additional reading on the topic.

Readers of Crimmigration Lawwill benefit from the book’s thoughtful inclusion of practice-based problems that require application of the law to a realistic set of facts. For example, after discussing the important topic of how to defend against deportation (known as relief from removal), García Hernández presents readers with a detailed problem asking whether an immigrant convicted of burglary and married to a United States citizen could potentially qualify for adjustment of status (and thereby avoid deportation). Through immediate application, readers have the opportunity to practice what they just learned—and thereby deepen their understanding. These practical problems are further supplemented by helpful “practice pointers” that highlight the ways in which a practitioner should think about applying the book’s lessons in advising clients and litigating cases.

In sum, Crimmigration Law is a must-read for law students and practitioners seeking an introduction to the complex legal doctrine and practice challenges at the merger of immigration and criminal law. The text offers in one concise volume an overview of the most critical topics in both civil and criminal enforcement of immigration law. Thank you to García Hernández for this important contribution, which provides a valuable training tool for defenders of immigrant rights.

Ingrid Eagly is a Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law and Faculty Director of the David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law & Policy.



October 22, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 19, 2015

From the Bookshelves: We Too Sing America South Asian, Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future by Deepa Iyer


We Too Sing America South Asian, Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future by Deepa Iyer (The New Press, 2015)

The nationally renowned racial justice advocate shines a light on an unexplored consequence of modern-day terrorism: the ongoing, state-sanctioned persecution of a range of American minorities.

Many of us can recall the targeting of South Asian, Arab, Muslim, and Sikh people in the wake of 9/11. We may be less aware, however, of the ongoing racism directed against these groups in the past decade and a half.

In We Too Sing America, nationally renowned activist Deepa Iyer catalogs recent racial flash points, from the 2012 massacre at the Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, to the violent opposition to the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and to the Park 51 Community Center in Lower Manhattan.

Iyer asks whether hate crimes should be considered domestic terrorism and explores the role of the state in perpetuating racism through detentions, national registration programs, police profiling, and constant surveillance. She looks at topics including Islamophobia in the Bible Belt; the “Bermuda Triangle” of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim hysteria; and the energy of new reform movements, including those of “undocumented and unafraid” youth and Black Lives Matter.

In a book that reframes the discussion of race in America, a brilliant young activist provides ideas from the front lines of post-9/11 America.


October 19, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 18, 2015

From the Bookshelves: The Economics of Immigration Market-Based Approaches, Social Science, and Public Policy by Benjamin W. Powell


The Economics of Immigration Market-Based Approaches, Social Science, and Public Policy by Benjamin W. Powell

Few topics in current affairs are as contentious as immigration. Yet despite the controversies, social scientists who study immigration largely agree about its effects, whatever differences they may have about how a nation should change its policies. Their findings, however, have been buried in academic journals accessible only to other scholars—until now.

With the publication of The Economics of Immigration: Market-Based Approaches, Social Science, and Public Policy, edited by Benjamin Powell, readers can now easily access the substance of the vast scholarly literature about a subject that touches millions of lives.

Combining rigor and readability, The Economics of Immigration offers important findings and bold ideas that will appeal to a variety of readers. General readers who absorb its lessons will be well equipped to dispel widespread myths about the effects of immigration. Policymakers and pundits will be struck by its non-partisan tone, and its clear-headed proposals capable of bridging the political divide. And scholars will appreciate the book’s reviews of numerous studies, all in one volume.

Part I summarizes and evaluates the literature on immigration and wages, employment, economic growth, government spending and revenues, cultural and civic assimilation, and work visas, with each chapter assessing the strengths and weaknesses of various studies, highlighting the best scholarship currently available, and discerning the overall scholarly consensus on each topic.

Part II features policy recommendations. These include a “market-based” approach designed to improve efficiency, fairness, and economic growth; a “pro-assimilation” approach that would reduce immigration but legalize immigrants who are in the United States illegally; and a “radical” case for an open borders, which draws on moral principles of various philosophical traditions as well as empirical research. The book concludes with the editor’s assessments of proposals put forth by six influential scholars.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
Benjamin Powell

Part I: Social Science

2. The Economic Effects of International Labor Mobility
Peter Leeson and Zachary Gochenour
3. The Fiscal Impact of Immigration
Alex Nowrasteh
4. The Civic and Cultural Assimilation of Immigrants to the United States
Jacob Vigdor
5. Employment VISAs: An International Comparison
Alexandre Padilla and Nicolás Cachanosky

Part II: Public Policy

6. Immigration Reform: A Modest Proposal
Richard Vedder
7. Immigration’s Future: A Pathway to Legalization and Assimilation
Herbert London
8. A Radical Case for Open Borders
Bryan Caplan and Vipul Naik
9. Conclusion: Alternative Policy Perspectives
Benjamin Powell


October 18, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 12, 2015

From the Bookshelves: Buying a Bride: An Engaging History of Mail-Order Matches by Marcia A. Zug

Buying a bride

Buying a Bride:  An Engaging History of Mail-Order Matches by Marcia A. Zug, NYU Press 2015 

There have always been mail-order brides in America—but we haven’t always thought about them in the same ways. In Buying a Bride, Marcia A. Zug starts with the so-called “Tobacco Wives” of the Jamestown colony and moves all the way forward to today’s modern same-sex mail-order grooms to explore the advantages and disadvantages of mail-order marriage. It’s a history of deception, physical abuse, and failed unions. It’s also the story of how mail-order marriage can offer women surprising and empowering opportunities.

Drawing on a forgotten trove of colorful mail-order marriage court cases, Zug explores the many troubling legal issues that arise in mail-order marriage: domestic abuse and murder, breach of contract, fraud (especially relating to immigration), and human trafficking and prostitution. She tells the story of how mail-order marriage lost the benign reputation it enjoyed in the Civil War era to become more and more reviled over time, and she argues compellingly that it does not entirely deserve its current reputation. While it is a common misperception that women turn to mail-order marriage as a desperate last resort, most mail-order brides are enticed rather than coerced. Since the first mail-order brides arrived on American shores in 1619, mail-order marriage has enabled women to improve both their marital prospects and their legal, political, and social freedoms. Buying A Bride uncovers this history and shows us how mail-order marriage empowers women and should be protected and even encouraged.

Here is my review:

Buying a Bride is a history book like few others, a carefully-documented critical analysis of mail order marriages from the days of the Jamestown colony to modern times. The reader learns that mail order brides once were viewed positively -- and as an preferred alternative to colonists marrying Indian women. Later, mail order brides from the East helped settle the Western frontier, with mail order bride "expeditions" bringing women to California Marcia Zug persuasively and carefully demonstrates how throughout American history, conceptions of larger national imperatives, namely settlement of the frontier, marriage, and race deeply influenced American society's views of mail order brides. The changes have resulted in the radical transformation of the generally positive public opinion of such marital arrangements before the Civil War and increasingly negative views of the practice through to today. The public perception of the mail order brides changed, from the courageous woman embarking on a new life of opportunity to the modern conception of a mail order bride as an abused woman living in misery. Not coincidentally, today's modern mail order bride, especially immigrants from nations in Asia and the developing world, are viewed in very different ways than those of previous historical eras.

From a feminist perspective, Zug concludes that, despite significant risks, mail order marriages are typically beneficial and even liberating for women. Buying a Bride offers fresh new insights to anyone interested in love and marriage, race and immigration, and the fundamental transformation of American social life over the last 300 years.


October 12, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Refugees at Our Door

In the New York Times, author of the award winning book Enrique's Journey, Sonia Nazario, writes about how the United States is paying Mexico to keep Central Americans fleeing violence from reaching our border: 

"In the past 15 months, at the request of President Obama, Mexico has carried out a ferocious crackdown on refugees fleeing violence in Central America. The United States has given Mexico tens of millions of dollars for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 to stop these migrants from reaching the United States border to claim asylum.

Essentially the United States has outsourced a refugee problem to Mexico that is similar to the refugee crisis now roiling Europe. . . .

I went to Mexico last month to see the effects of the crackdown against migrants, who are being hunted down on a scale never seen before and sent back to countries where gangs and drug traffickers have taken control of whole sections of territory."


Photo by Kate Orlinsky courtesy of the New York Times


October 12, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

From the Bookshelves: Terrorizing Latina/o Immigrants Race, Gender, and Immigration Politics in the Age of Security by Anna Sampaio


Terrorizing Latina/o Immigrants Race, Gender, and Immigration Politics in the Age of Security by Anna Sampaio

Immigration politics has been significantly altered by the advent of America’s war on terror and the proliferation of security measures. In her cogent study, Terrorizing Latina/o Immigrants, Anna Sampaio examines how these processes are racialized and gendered and how they impose inequitable burdens on Latina/o immigrants. She interrogates the rise of securitization, restrictive legislation, and the return of large-scale immigration raids and describes how these re-articulate and re-inscribe forms of racial and gender hierarchy.

Terrorizing Latina/o Immigrants demonstrates how the ascendance of America as a security state serves as a template to scrutinize, harass, and encumber immigrants while also reconfiguring citizenship. Sampaio uses intersectional analysis coupled with theoretical and empirical approaches to develop a critical framework for analyzing current immigration politics.

Sampaio provides a sustained and systematic examination of policy and enforcement shifts impacting Latinas/os. Her book concludes with an examination of immigration reform under the Obama administration, contrasting the promise of hope and change with the reality of increased detentions, deportations, and continued marginalization.


1. Reconfiguring Race and Gender in the War on Terrorism

2. Masculinist Protectionism, Racialized Demonization, and the Formation of the Contemporary Security Regime

3. Racialization of Latinas/os within American Immigration Law and Policy

4. Securitizing Immigration Legislation

5. Terrorizing Immigrants: The Return of Large-Scale Raids and Roundups and Their Impact on Latina/o Communities

6. Security and Citizenship: “Enemy Combatants” and the Cases of John Walker Lindh, Yaser Hamdi, and José Padilla

7. The End of Terror? A New Administration and a New Chapter in Immigration Politics


October 10, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Professor Karima Bennoune Appointed as United Nations Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights


I am pleased to report that the United Nations Human Rights Council has appointed my colleague Professor Karima Bennoune as its Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights. In her role as Special Rapporteur, Professor Bennoune will make official visits to countries; observe and report on the promotion and protection of cultural rights at the local, national, regional and international levels; identify possible obstacles to the promotion and protection of cultural rights and make recommendations to the Council on possible actions; and present reports to the Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly.

Professor Bennoune's book, Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here, won the 2014 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for nonfiction. Released in August 2013, the book addresses resistance to fundamentalism in Muslim majority contexts. The field research for this book took Karima to many countries, including Afghanistan, Egypt, Israel/Palestine, Mali, Niger and Russia.  The TED talk based on the book, “When people of Muslim heritage challenge fundamentalism,” has received more than 1.3 million views.


October 8, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Book Review: Dream Chasers: Immigration and the American Backlash by John Tirman

Dream chasers

Dream Chasers: Immigration and the American Backlash
by John Tirman, The MIT Press 2015, 230 pages

In eight tight chapters, John Tirman’s Dream Chasers sparks a fresh look at an issue that continues to dominate the airwaves and print media. Anyone struggling to come to grips with immigration reform will gain insight from this thoughtful book, which sheds light on the nuances about immigration that hide behind the headlines.

The title of the book plays on what John Tirman sees as the competing “dreams” of America: immigrant dreams of opportunity and freedom; and the vision of many Americans who demand immigrant linguistic, cultural, and other assimilation. As the contrasting dreams suggest, the book views the immigration debate as part of “an epic culture clash.” : “The rejectionists who are particularly vociferous about the cultural wounds they think illegal immigration visits upon the United States, are the same rejectionists on health-care reform, measures to deal with climate change, financial sector reform, economic stimulus, and so on.”

Ably capturing the national divide over immigration in the modern United States, Dream Chasers demonstrates that the issue goes well beyond law and race. Over the course of eight concise chapters, Tirman, executive director of MIT’s Center for International Studies, summarizes the economic, cultural, legal, and political considerations implicated in the modern debate over immigration.

The book opens by comparing the “Great Migration” (1910 to 1970) of African Americans from the South to the Northeast, Midwest, and West to today’s “Second Great Migration” of Mexican and Central American immigrants to the United States. A later chapter provides an overview of the history that has shaped outmigration from Mexico and Guatemala. Economic opportunity in the United States (combined with limited avenues for lawful immigration), poverty in their homelands, and violence (especially brutal and widespread for decades in Guatemala) have fueled migration from those countries. In addition, U.S. foreign policy, from political support for anti-communist leaders to the promotion of global capitalism (and the United Fruit Company), played an important role in creating the political, economic, and social circumstances contributing to the pressures for migration from Latin America.

Dream Chasers also looks at Arizona’s toxic political climate surrounding immigration, with the state starting a national trend with its extreme immigration enforcement law known as SB 1070. Tirman views the battle over ethnic studies in the Tucson public schools as a “culture clash …, at root, about the enormous flow of immigrants across the US-Mexico border.” Put simply, the ethnic studies controversy is a minor skirmish in the war over Latino immigration.

Tirman then reviews immigration enforcement through the examination of the U.S. government’s immigration raid of a textile factory in New Bedford, Massachusetts, “a struggling … city of immigrants.” (p. 68). In the raid, federal authorities arrested hundreds of workers—the majority who were women from Guatemala—and created a humanitarian crisis when many of their children who were U.S.-born citizens, returned from school or day care to find homes without a parent. Activists, lawyers, a Catholic Church (Our Lady of Guadalupe), and state and local governments responded to the aftermath of the raid, which was followed with the detention of those arrested out of state where many had no access to lawyers.

After describing the excesses of contemporary immigration enforcement, Dream Chasers considers the possibilities for reform. Chapter 4 offers fresh analysis of the coming of age of the DREAMers, college students brought to this country by their parents, and their creation of a cohesive, independent, and powerful political movement. They became the “poster children ... high school valedictorians, star athletes, and soldiers” for immigration reform, pushing for passage of the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act. They “make visible the hidden, make appeals for justice, plead that the raids and deportations stop, advocate for plausible solutions.” They have become nothing less than the nation’s immigration conscience. The DREAMers’ political movement helped bring about a major reform measure implemented by President Obama, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in 2012 (as well as its proposed expansion in 2014).

In analyzing the contemporary politics of immigration reform, Tirman observes that “reform has focused resolutely on the racial characteristics of those seeking entry.” Most reform proposals call for increased immigration enforcement (despite record numbers of removals), expanded legal immigration, and a path to legalization (and perhaps citizenship) for undocumented immigrants. The last component of most comprehensive reform proposals—the much-maligned “amnesty”—is the most contested.

Tirman also examines legal terminology (including “alien” and “illegal alien”), and the English language as “cultural weapons” in the immigration debate. He critically analyzes Samuel P. Huntington’s 2004 book Who Are We?, which identifies Hispanic immigration as a cultural threat to the United States and avoids the expressly race-based claims recently voiced by, among others, Ann Coulter and Donald Trump.

The concluding chapter is refreshingly optimistic, mentioning hopeful signs for immigration reform. Immigrants today are a part of popular culture in the United States, featured in music, books, and television shows. Public opinion at times appears to be open to possible reforms sympathetic to immigrants. In fact, some major cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City have embraced pro-immigrant policies.  However, as the United States has seen in recent months, major events, such as the controversy last summer over the release of an undocumented immigrant by the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office who later allegedly killed a woman, the public at various historical moments supports vigorous immigration enforcement measures.   

Lawyers might want to see more discussion of the law, justice, and fairness in Dream Chasers, all which are important to the debates over immigration reform. Although I might quibble some with parts of the analysis, such as the parallel drawn between Spanish use among Latinos and Ebonics among African Amercans, Tirman generally thoughtfully analyzes in a sober, balanced fashion the contemporary debates over immigration reform.

Review by Kevin R. Johnson

October 7, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Should Immigration Require Assimilation?


Image from Wikipedia (The Melting Pot)

In Should Immigration Require Assimilation? in The Atlantic,  Tom Gjelten excerpts part of his new book, A Nation of Nations: A Great American Immigration Story dealing with immigrant assimilation.  He  poses the question as follows:  Every year, unique people—each with their own cultural history—become new citizens of the United States. Must they leave their own heritage behind?

The alleged failure of assimilation of immigrants has often been offered at various times in U.S. history as a rationale for restricting immigration.  Samuel Huntington in his controversial book Who Are We?  The Challenges to America's National Identity (2005)  contends that the large wave of immigration has not fully assimilated into American social life but behaves as a separatist bloc of sorts -- maintaining a separate language, culture, religion, work ethic, etc.  Click here for criticism of that kind of approach to immigration through the lens of Latino Americans.


October 5, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

America’s Potential: The Next 50 Years of the 1965 Immigration Act


America’s Potential: The Next 50 Years of the 1965 Immigration Act

To mark 50 years since the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 became law, the National Immigration Forum held a conversation with distinguished speakers to discuss the law’s continuing impact and what the future holds. For those that were unable to join us live, watch and share the event video.

Panelists: Tom Gjelten, National Public Radio correspondent and Author, A Nation of Nations: A Great American Immigration Story

Mary C. Waters, M.E. Zukerman Professor of Sociology, Harvard University

Mee Moua, President and Executive Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC)

Fernand Amandi, Principal, Bendixen and Amandi International

Moderator: Maria Teresa Kumar, President and CEO, Voto Latino

Opening remarks: Ali Noorani, Executive Director, National Immigration Forum


September 29, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)