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!  

-KitJ

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

Health

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. 

KJ

 

 

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

Saturday, July 1, 2017

From the Bookshelves: LET ME BE A REFUGEE: ADMINISTRATIVE JUSTICE AND THE POLITICS OF ASYLUM IN THE UNITED STATES, CANADA, AND AUSTRALIA by Rebecca Hamlin

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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.

KJ

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)

Islamaphobia

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. 

KJ

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

Wings

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.

KJ

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

Frost

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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KJ

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

Friday, June 2, 2017

THE RETURN OF WORKPLACE IMMIGRATION RAIDS BY David Bacon

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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."

KJ

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

From the Bookshelves: Sivaprasad Wadhia, Beyond Deportation: The Role of Prosecutorial Discretion in Immigration Cases, 2017 Honorable Mention by the Eric Hoffer Awards in the Legacy Nonfiction

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Good news from Penn State.  Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar and Clinical Professor of Law Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia’s book, Beyond Deportation: The Role of Prosecutorial Discretion in Immigration Cases, was named a 2017 Honorable Mention by the Eric Hoffer Awards in the Legacy Nonfiction category.

The Eric Hoffer Book Awards honor exceptional independent books in memory of Eric Hoffer, an American philosopher and author. 

Originally published in 2015, Wadhia’s book describes the history, theory, and application of prosecutorial discretion in U.S. immigration law.

In addition to her role as professor, she is the founder and director of Penn State Law’s Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, where she advises students as they provide community outreach and legal support in immigration cases.

KJ

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

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Immigration Article of the Day: The Chronicles of Immigration Law by Steven W. Bender

Benders

The Chronicles of Immigration Law by Steven W. Bender, Seattle University School of Law

A book chapter in Law Professor and Accidental Historian: The Scholarship of Michael A. Olivas (Ediberto Román ed.), Carolina Academic Press (2017)

Abstract

In early 2017, Carolina Academic Press published an anthology of excerpts of the scholarship of Michael Olivas, along with accompanying essays from about 20 notable U.S. legal scholars, titled Law Professor and Accidental Historian: The Scholarship of Michael A. Olivas (ed. Ediberto Román). Given Michael's influence in the field of immigration law and policy, I reflected on his article The Chronicles, My Grandfather’s Stories, and Immigration Law: The Slave Traders Chronicle as Racial History,” St. Louis University L.J. 34 (1990). As one of the first legal writers on the Latina/o experience, Olivas in that article responded to Derrick Bell’s much-discussed chronicle of the space traders. As Olivas posited, Derrick Bell’s seemingly “fantastic” vision of a trade for the once-enslaved U.S. black population was neither fantastic nor unlikely to occur. Rather, it had already occurred throughout our sorry racial history with targets across the color line. In my essay, I examine and suggest a number of current groups the U.S. might readily bargain away, some even without the demand for valuable consideration in return. Sadly, should Bell’s alien spaceships arrive on U.S shores today, no doubt they might have several vulnerable groups to barter for their undisclosed needs for mass deportation. And perhaps a U.S. leader anxious to make that despicable bargain.

KJ

May 23, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

From the Bookshelves: Testimony by Scott Turow

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Testimony by Scott Turow

At the age of fifty, former prosecutor Bill ten Boom has walked out on everything he thought was important to him: his law career, his wife, Kindle County, even his country. Still, when he is tapped by the International Criminal Court--an organization charged with prosecuting crimes against humanity--he feels drawn to what will become the most elusive case of his career. Over ten years ago, in the apocalyptic chaos following the Bosnian war, an entire Roma refugee camp vanished. Now for the first time, a witness has stepped forward: Ferko Rincic claims that armed men marched the camp's Gypsy residents to a cave in the middle of the night--and then with a hand grenade set off an avalanche, burying 400 people alive. Only Ferko survived.

Boom's task is to examine Ferko's claims and determine who might have massacred the Roma. His investigation takes him from the International Criminal Court's base in Holland to the cities and villages of Bosnia and secret meetings in Washington, DC, as Boom sorts through a host of suspects, ranging from Serb paramilitaries, to organized crime gangs, to the US government itself, while also maneuvering among the alliances and treacheries of those connected to the case: Layton Merriwell, a disgraced US major general desperate to salvage his reputation; Sergeant Major Atilla Doby,a vital cog in American military operations near the camp at the time of the Roma's disappearance; Laza Kajevic, the brutal former leader of the Bosnian Serbs; Esma Czarni, Ferko's alluring barrister; and of course, Ferko himself, on whose testimony the entire case rests-and who may know more than he's telling.

KJ

A master of the legal thriller, Scott Turow has returned with his most irresistibly confounding and satisfying novel yet.

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

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

From the Bookshelves: Porous Borders Multiracial Migrations and the Law in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands by Julian Lim

Porous borders

Porous Borders Multiracial Migrations and the Law in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands by Julian Lim (University of North Carolina Press, November 2017)

With the railroad’s arrival in the late nineteenth century, immigrants of all colors rushed to the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, transforming the region into a booming international hub of economic and human activity. Following the stream of Mexican, Chinese, and African American migration, Julian Lim presents a fresh study of the multiracial intersections of the borderlands, where diverse peoples crossed multiple boundaries in search of new economic opportunities and social relations. However, as these migrants came together in ways that blurred and confounded elite expectations of racial order, both the United States and Mexico resorted to increasingly exclusionary immigration policies in order to make the multiracial populations of the borderlands less visible within the body politic, and to remove them from the boundaries of national identity altogether.

Using a variety of English- and Spanish-language primary sources from both sides of the border, Lim reveals how a borderlands region that has traditionally been defined by Mexican-Anglo relations was in fact shaped by a diverse population that came together dynamically through work and play, in the streets and in homes, through war and marriage, and in the very act of crossing the border.

KJ

 

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

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

From the Bookshelves: Milena, or The Most Beautiful Femur in the World By Jorge Zepeda Patterson

MILENA

Milena, or The Most Beautiful Femur in the World by Jorge Zepeda Patterson (Translated from the Spanish by Adrian Nathan West) (Published May 2, 2017)

After Milena’s lover and protector Rosendo Franco dies in her arms, she must go on the run from the human-trafficking ring that once kidnapped her from her Croatian village and forced her into prostitution. Soon, three old friends from Mexico City are after her as well—but for different reasons. Newspaper columnist Tomás Arizmendi seeks to retrieve Milena’s little black book that could bring down the media empire he inherited from Franco, while dubious intelligence expert Jaime Lemus wants to use the sensitive information it contains about the crimes of the world’s power elite to further his political puppeteering. The noblest of the trio, politician Amelia Navarro simply wants to carry out her mission to protect women and children from the abuses of men in power.

Told with a sly humor and journalistic detail, Milena, or The Most Beautiful Femur in the World traces in its romp across Europe and the Americas the vast networks of capital, information, and crime that bind together today’s globalized world. In the beautiful and mysterious Milena we encounter an unforgettable woman who reminds us that the survivors of modernity’s ills are not mere statistics but living, breathing, tenacious individuals.

Author:  Economist and sociologist Jorge Zepeda Patterson was born in Mazatlán, México, in 1952. He received a masters degree from the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales and a doctorate in political science from The Sorbonne. After his journalistic training at El País, he was the founding editor of the newspapers Siglo 21 and Público in Guadalajara, and was later editor-in-chief of El Universal. He has authored numerous books on political analysis, and his weekly column appears in over twenty newspapers in Mexico. He currently edits the news website SinEmbargo.mx.

KJ

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

Monday, April 24, 2017

From the Bookshelves: Somalis in the Twin Cities and Columbus: Immigrant Incorporation in New Destinations by Stefanie Chambers

Solamis

Somalis in the Twin Cities and Columbus:  Immigrant Incorporation in New Destinations by Stefanie Chambers

n the early 1990s, Somali refugees arrived in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. Later in the decade, an additional influx of immigrants arrived in a second destination of Columbus, Ohio. These refugees found low-skill jobs in warehouses and food processing plants and struggled as social "outsiders," often facing discrimination based on their religious traditions, dress, and misconceptions that they are terrorists. The immigrant youth also lacked access to quality educational opportunities.

In Somalis in the Twin Cities and Columbus, Stefanie Chambers provides a cogent analysis of these refugees in Midwestern cities where new immigrant communities are growing. Her comparative study uses qualitative and quantitative data to assess the political, economic, and social variations between these urban areas. Chambers examines how culture and history influenced the incorporation of Somali immigrants in the U.S., and recommends policy changes that can advance rather than impede incorporation.

Her robust investigation provides a better understanding of the reasons these refugees establish roots in these areas, as well as how these resettled immigrants struggle to thrive.

KJ

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

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

From the Bookshelves: In the Fields of the North / En los Campos del Norte Photographs and text by David Bacon

Bacon book

In the Fields of the North / En los Campos del Norte Photographs and text by David Bacon University of California Press / Colegio de la Frontera Norte Publication date:  May 1, 2017 302 photographs, 450pp, 9”x9” paperback

In the Fields of the North is an intensive look at farm workers, documenting work life, living conditions, culture and migration through over 300 photographs and many narratives of workers themselves, in both English and Spanish. The conditions of farm workers have deteriorated greatly since the 1970s and 80s. At the same time, over half of the farm workers of today come from towns in Mexico where people speak indigenous languages like Mixteco and Triqui.

In the Fields of the North shows that these conditions are provoking a new wave of organizing efforts. It does so visually, and in the words of farm workers themselves.

KJ
 

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

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

From the Bookshelves: Human Trafficking by Cheryl Taylor Page, Robert William Piatt, Jr.

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Human Trafficking by Cheryl Taylor Page, Robert William Piatt, Jr.

Slavery has not been eradicated.  Human Trafficking explores the legal, moral, and political attempts to contain sex and labor trafficking.  The authors bring unique perspectives to these topics. Professor Page, an African-American woman all too familiar with the vestiges of slavery, has written and lectured internationally on trafficking.  Professor Piatt, a Hispanic law professor and former law school dean, brings his international experience as an educator, author, and advocate regarding immigration and human rights matters to bear.  The book considers efforts at containment, including controversial topics such as whether prostitution should be legalized.  It concludes with specific approaches to eliminate trafficking. 

KJ

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

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

This American Life: Line in the Sand -- A Border Patrol Agent Story

Listen to this "This American Life"  podcast.  A Border Patrol agent takes us deep inside his experience patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border. Read by Francisco Cantu, and excerpted from his upcoming memoir, “The Line Becomes A River.”  Here is a description of the book:

Every day, a ceaseless flow of men, women and children push their way north, in scorched summer heat, across raw desert terrain and man-made boundaries into the domain of the United States Border Patrol.

The Border Patrol acts as the last link in a long chain from political rhetoric to policy to practice. Guarding desert and mountain passes, the agents detain the lost, the dehydrated, and the unlucky, sending them back across the line, where many of them will try their luck again and again, their desperate hope much stronger than fear of imprisonment or death.

Francisco Cantú grew up on the border. His mother, a park ranger and second generation Mexican-American, raised him in the national parks and deserts of southern Arizona. Forever intrigued by the landscape of his childhood, Francisco decided to pursue a master’s degree, focusing on border relations. Yearning for an understanding academia can’t give, Francisco takes a leap of faith and joins the Border Patrol, committing himself to this unnaturally divided space and the people who cross it.

Training first as a field agent, Cantú learns to track humans through signs in the desert dirt and detect movement with thermal sensors. He makes arrests- people young and old, despondent and defiant, alone or clinging to the fallen bodies of family members who have lost their battle to the elements. After three years in the field, nerves fraying, Cantú is promoted to intelligence, a desk job that takes him out of the physical brutality of the field but mires him in a world of drug cartels and violence.As horrific nightmares haunt him, he suffers from jaw-clenching pain and becomes increasingly paranoid, eventually deciding to leave the job behind. But even with patrol life behind him, Cantú’s search for peace of mind is fraught. Working as a barista, he bonds with José, the café’s maintenance man, a proud husband and father who has lived in the United States for over 30 years.When José returns to Michoacán to pay his respects to his dying mother, he is detained trying to cross the border, and Cantú is forced to once again confront his demons.

THE LINE BECOMES A RIVER presents a personal examination into the structural violence that has become US-Mexico border’s defining characteristic. Attention to the border has never been more pronounced than it is today. The images called up by politicians and the media loom in our collective consciousness- the intractable corruption, the violence, “The Wall.” As Cantú wrestles with his sense of responsibility and hopelessness, he opens up a nuanced, transformative conversation and exposes the realities of the deep human struggles of those who defend and those who cross.

Francisco Cantú is a recent MFA graduate in nonfiction from the University Arizona. His essays and translations have appeared in Guernica, Ploughshares, Orion, and Public Books, where he serves as a contributing editor. After serving as Border Patrol Agent for the States Border Patrol from 2008-2012, Cantú conducted research on Dutch asylum issues as part of a Fulbright Fellowship. An excerpt from THE LINE BECOMES A RIVER is forthcoming in Best American Essays 2016.
 
KJ

 

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

Friday, March 24, 2017

From the Bookshelves: States, the Law and Access to Refugee Protection Fortresses and Fairness, Editors: Maria O'Sullivan and Dallal Stevens

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States, the Law and Access to Refugee Protection Fortresses and Fairness, Editors: Maria O'Sullivan and Dallal Stevens

This timely volume seeks to examine two of the most pertinent current challenges faced by asylum seekers in gaining access to international refugee protection: first, the obstacles to physical access to territory and, second, the barriers to accessing a quality asylum procedure – which the editors have termed 'access to justice'.To address these aims, the book brings together leading commentators from a range of backgrounds, including law, sociology and political science. It also includes contributions from NGO practitioners. This allows the collection to offer interdisciplinary analysis and to incorporate both theoretical and practical perspectives on questions of immense contemporary significance. While the examination offers a strong focus on European legal and policy developments, the book also addresses the issues in different regions (Europe, North America, the Middle East, Africa and Australia). Given the currency of the questions under debate, this book will be essential reading for all scholars in the field of asylum law.

KJ

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

Remembering Oscar Romero (1917-1980)

 

From the University of California Press blog:

Remembering Oscar Romero

by Matt Eisenbrandt, author of Assassination of a Saint: The Plot to Murder Óscar Romero and the Quest to Bring His Killers to Justice

Thirty-seven years ago today, a gunman fired a single bullet that took Archbishop Óscar Romero’s life as he said mass inside a small chapel. We just observed the fortieth anniversary of another notorious crime from that era, the murder of Romero’s friend, Rutilio Grande. The 1977 ambush of Father Grande began a string of death-squad attacks on priests and other religious figures in El Salvador, a bloody campaign that lasted more than a decade. The diabolical logic of the killers was summarized in the slogan, “Be a patriot, kill a priest.”

Despite years of slander in some sectors, legacies of Romero and Grande are now being honored. Pope Francis is likely to name Romero a saint of the Catholic Church by the end of the 2017. Religious leaders in El Salvador recently sent the Vatican evidence of a miracle they believe is attributable to Romero’s intercession, the last requirement on the road to sainthood. Rutilio Grande is now being considered for beatification as a martyr, the same hurdle that Romero’s cause cleared in 2015.

My new book, Assassination of a Saint: The Plot to Murder Óscar Romero and the Quest to Bring His Killers to Justice, examines the people who executed Romero and how they did so. Equally important, however, the book explains why the conspirators felt the almost incomprehensible need to target priests, nuns, and lay people who were merely practicing their faith. The answer to that question is found in part in Romero’s own homilies. Despite the danger, Romero regularly criticized the repressive power structure in El Salvador, including the small group of wealthy landowners and businesspeople whose interests were protected by a succession of military governments. Romero referred to them as people “who pile up spoils and plunder in their palaces, who crush the poor, who bring on a reign of violence while reclining on beds of ivory.” Organizations that represented their interests responded by defaming Romero and others, branding them as Communists and traitors. One tabloid, in a 1970s version of fake news, carried the headline “Monseñor Romero Directs Terrorist Group,” with the subtitle, “Archbishop Great Ally of Agents of Subversion.”

The day before his death, Romero delivered his most forceful sermon, calling on Salvadoran soldiers to disobey the orders of their tyrannical commanders. He instead implored them, in the name of God, to “stop the repression.” Father Bill Wipfler, an Episcopalian priest who attended the mass that day in San Salvador and later testified about it in our trial against one of Romero’s killers, turned to a colleague after hearing Romero’s plea and said, “I don’t think that the military is going to let this one pass by.” A day later, Romero was dead.

Despite the devastating impact of Romero’s murder in 1980, today his memory is a source of hope and inspiration to millions in El Salvador and around the world. His canonization will be a historic moment for the country and a validation of his courageous and unflinching message.

KJ

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

Thursday, March 23, 2017

From the Bookshelves: U.S. Central Americans: Reconstructing Memories, Struggles, and Communities of Resistance by Karina Oliva Alvarado

Us central americans

U.S. Central Americans: Reconstructing Memories, Struggles, and Communities of Resistance by Karina Oliva Alvarado editor, University of Arizona Press 2017

In summer 2014, a surge of unaccompanied child migrants from Central America to the United States gained mainstream visibility—yet migration from Central America has been happening for decades. U.S. Central Americans explores the shared yet distinctive experiences, histories, and cultures of 1.5-and second-generation Central Americans in the United States.

While much has been written about U.S. and Central American military, economic, and political relations, this is the first book to articulate the rich and dynamic cultures, stories, and historical memories of Central American communities in the United States. Contributors to this anthology—often writing from their own experiences as members of this community—articulate U.S. Central Americans’ unique identities as they also explore the contradictions found within this multivocal group.

Working from within Guatemalan, Salvadoran, and Maya communities, contributors to this critical study engage histories and transnational memories of Central Americans in public and intimate spaces through ethnographic, in-depth, semistructured, qualitative interviews, as well as literary and cultural analysis. The volume’s generational, spatial, urban, indigenous, women’s, migrant, and public and cultural memory foci contribute to the development of U.S. Central American thought, theory, and methods. Woven throughout the analysis, migrants’ own oral histories offer witness to the struggles of displacement, travel, navigation, and settlement of new terrain. This timely work addresses demographic changes both at universities and in cities throughout the United States.

U.S. Central Americans draws connections to fields of study such as history, political science, anthropology, ethnic studies, sociology, cultural studies, and literature, as well as diaspora and border studies. The volume is also accessible in size, scope, and language to educators and community and service workers wanting to know about their U.S. Central American families, neighbors, friends, students, employees, and clients.

Contributors:

Leisy Abrego
Karina O. Alvarado
Maritza E. Cárdenas
Alicia Ivonne Estrada
Ester E. Hernández
Floridalma Boj Lopez
Steven Osuna
Yajaira Padilla
Ana Patricia Rodríguez

KJ

March 23, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)