Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Celebrating Selena


Today, Google premiered their first-ever Selena Quintanilla Google Doodle, an animated singing cartoon of the late Mexican-American singer designed to celebrate the life and legacy of one of Latin music's most formidable stars. October 17, 1989 was the day of Quintanilla's first studio album release, Selena; one that would lead to five more albums, the last of which would be released posthumously and become her first No.1 on the Billboard 200. 





October 17, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 16, 2017

TV dramas and sitcoms are suddenly all about immigration


Travis M. Andrews of the Washington Post writes about President Trump's impact on popular culture. 

A number of television shows revolving around immigration began cropping up as Donald Trump rose to the presidency. Since Trump took office, his administration has ramped up deportations and cracked down on illegal immigration.

Popular shows such as “Superstore,” “Jane the Virgin” and Fresh Off the Boat” recently tackled stories about undocumented immigrants. And several networks announced upcoming new shows focused on immigration.

CBS announced “In the Country We Love,” a drama about a corporate attorney who begins taking on cases for undocumented immigrants. And the CW is developing “Casa,” which focuses on six Latino siblings who struggle when their parents are deported.

The trend also extends to three reboots of favorite television programs that spent years — in one case decades — off the air and never discussed immigration in their original runs.

Norman Lear’s popular sitcom “One Day at a Time,” featuring Mackenzie Phillips, Valerie Bertinelli and Bonnie Franklin, followed a divorced mom as she struggled to raise two teenage daughters on her own. It was a bold show when it premiered in 1975, since television programs centering on a single mother were sill a rarity.

Lear updated it for the reboot, which landed on Netflix in January, to reflect modern America. Like the “Party of Five” reboot, it swapped its white family for a Latino one, specifically the Cuban-American Alvarezes. See the trailer above.  The main character is still a single mother, who lives with her two children. But now she’s joined by her mother, who emigrated from Cuba.

One of the main plotlines running through the 13 new episodes focuses on an undocumented immigrant one of the children befriends. The  family tries to do the right thing, but they’re not sure what that is. Rather than offer an easy, digestible solution, though, the characters — all Cuban — argue about American policies surrounding immigration. Not what most would expect from a sitcom.

Lear often injected his shows with progressive ideals, so his focus on immigration shouldn’t be surprising. Especially given how outspoken he was about the issue throughout the presidential campaign.



October 16, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 15, 2017

When Adoption is Kidnapping


Check out this heartbreaking story from CNN -- Kids for Sale. It follows the story of a young Ugandan girl adopted by a family in the United States. The U.S. family was told that their new daughter was an orphan. She wasn't. She came from a loving home, with a mother who missed her deeply.

It was, as CNN alleges, a "trafficking scheme" affecting "multiple families."

Ugandan parents were told that their children would have "a great educational opportunity," "would one day return," and would remain part of their lives.

Instead, kids were "placed into orphanages even though they aren't orphans, and sold for as much as $15,000 each to unsuspecting American families."

The adoptive family in the U.S. was horrified that the child they'd welcomed wasn't an orphan but had been "made an orphan." Ultimately, they were able to reunite the daughter who can come to them with her birth mother in Uganda.


October 15, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Born Stateless

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Check out this fabulous teaching resource courtesy of the BBC. It's a mini documentary (3:06): Born Stateless.

The film introduces us to Maha Mamo. Her parents are both Syrian, but their marriage was not officially recognized because it was a mixed-marriage: Her mom is Muslim and her dad is Christian. Because of this lack of recognition of the underlying marriage, Maha and her siblings are not considered Syrian by virtue of their parentage.

Maha herself was born in Lebanon. But Lebanon does not follow jus soli. Because her parents were Syrian, Maha could not be Lebanese.

Maha and her siblings sought a new home. They found an unexpected one, Brazil.

This film is 3 minutes well spent. It's a great addition to classroom discussion about jus soli, jus sanguinis, and naturalization (with a side of refugee status).


October 3, 2017 in Film & Television, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 23, 2017

At the Movies: Constructing the Terrorist Threat


Constructing the Terrorist Threat

Deepa Kumar, one of the nation’s foremost scholars on Islamophobia, looks at how Muslims have become the predominant face of terror in U.S. news and entertainment media -- even though terror attacks by white extremists have far outnumbered attacks by Muslim Americans since 9/11.

Arguing that racialized threats have long been used to induce moral panics and advance anti-democratic policies, Kumar explores how ruling elites have been raising the specter of Arab and Islamic terror since the 1970s to justify militarism, war, and curbs on civil liberties. From the Iran-Hostage Crisis in 1979 to the “war on terror” after 9/11 to the rise of ISIS today, she argues that Americans have been taught to fear Muslims out of all proportion to reality, presenting a wealth of eye-opening data about the actual threat level posed by Muslim terrorists in the United States.

Constructing the Terrorist Threat offers a clear-headed assessment of terrorism that couldn’t be more timely and urgent given the politics of fear that now dominate our political landscape.

Duration: 55 min
ISBN: 1-944024-96-4
Date Produced: 2017
Subtitles: English


September 23, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

At the Movies: Global Migration Film Festival Call for Submissions


From July 3 to September 17, professional and emerging filmmakers are invited to submit original films on the Global Migration Film Festival theme: the promise and challenges of migration and the unique contributions migrants make to their new communities. Films that challenge negative perceptions of migrants, defy stereotypes and portray positive and welcoming actions by and toward migrants are encouraged.


September 19, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, September 9, 2017

At The Movies: Forbidden


Here's a new documentary worth checking out:

Two hot-button issues come together in Forbidden: Undocumented and Queer in Rural America. As Donald Trump rails against Mexican immigrants and LGBTQ community, we are introduced to Moises Serrano, who came to America from Mexico when he was 18 months old. Since he was not born in America, Moises is not a legal immigrant. We soon learn that Moises also happens to be gay, and in North Carolina, that presents another set of challenges.

Moises’ larger crusade as an activist is to expand the rights of undocumented people trying to survive in America. An urgent and necessary documentary, Forbidden humanizes the issues, proving eye-opening and inspiring to audiences.

Touching upon relevant issues such as DACA, the DREAM Act, and DOCA, Forbidden highlights the need for advocacy and awareness surrounding immigration reform and LGBTQ rights.


September 9, 2017 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

At the Movies: George and Grace


This new short film, GEORGE AND GRACE, about the National Immigrant Justice Center, highlights meaningful stories about the American immigrant experience and the fight for social justice.

For refugees like George, finding an attorney can be the difference between safety & persecution.  We can ensure immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers, like George & Grace, have an opportunity to live safely seek protection.  After escaping persecution in Uganda, George started a new life in Chicago with help from @NIJC. George escaped persecution & started new life in Chicago with @NIJC's help in a complicated system. Like many refugees, in U.S. immigration system George relived trauma he fled in Uganda.


September 6, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 4, 2017

I Love My Undocumented People

From the LA-based (and undocumented) poet Yosimar Reyes comes this ode to the undocumented.


September 4, 2017 in Film & Television, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Abuse at Privately-Run UK Immigration Facility

Brook House Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) photo G4S

The Brook House Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) is located near the London Gatwick Airport. The IRC is run by G4S (bear with me on the acronyms), a privately-held and publicly-traded corporation that describes itself as a "leading global, integrated security company, specialising in the provision of security services and solutions to customers."

The IRC is a facility for housing migrants - about 500 men - who are being deported from the UK. About half are foreigners who have finished criminal sentences in the UK. The other half are failed asylum seekers.

The BBC went undercover at the IRC and the video footage they obtained showed IRC employees "mocking, abusing and assaulting" those housed in the facility. They've described the conditions as "chaos, incompetence and abuse."

Although the footage has not yet been released (the BBC will air it tomorrow), G4S has already suspended nine staff members. The company has also issued an official statement, which states in part: "There is no place for the type of conduct described in the allegations anywhere in G4S. Such behaviour is not representative of the many G4S colleagues who do a great job, often in difficult and challenging circumstances, across the country."


September 3, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, September 1, 2017

Martin Sheen on Deportation, Immigration, and the Soul of a Country


In Magana Ortiz v. Sessions, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Judges Stephen Reinhardt and Jacqueline Nyuyen) denied an emergency stay of removal pending appeal.  Judge Reinhardt concurred in an opinion that has previously been discussed on this blog (and summarized here) and which received a fair amount of press attention. 

In his opinion, Judge Reinhardt wrote:

"President Trump has claimed that his immigration policies would target the “bad hombres.” The government’s decision to remove Magaña Ortiz shows that even the “good hombres” are not safe. Magaña Ortiz is by all accounts a pillar of his community and a devoted father and husband. It is difficult to see how the government’s decision to expel him is consistent with the President’s promise of an immigration system with “a lot of heart.” I find no such compassion in the government’s choice to deport Magaña Ortiz."

This language jumped out to Martin Sheen and in this interview in The Nation stated that 

"It forces all of us to really consider our vision of what our country is about. The United States of America exists because people were fleeing oppression. That was the basis for constructing this new colossus, if you will, this new country, an experiment in democracy.

And that seems to have been thrown away now, and it’s done with such impunity. I dare say that I don’t know how many of these people that are making these decisions in this administration, particularly in the Justice Department, have any connection whatsoever in their own personal lives to immigration. In their own families, or friends. How far back do they go with their own nationality? "

330px-Sheen _Martin_(2008)


September 1, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Media Analysis of Representations of Immigrants in Popular TV Shows


Join us on Wednesday, Sept. 13th at 2pm EST, when we continue our Road Ahead for Social Justice series with a conversation about the portrayals of immigrants in popular television shows, and the potential that popular culture presents for transformative change.

In this webinar, we will discuss the need for more diverse stories and representation based on findings from our latest research, Power of POP. Guest speakers Bassem Kawar from Take on Hate and Carl Lipscombe from Black Alliance for Just Immigration will provide best practices and recommendations for engaging popular culture based on their own advocacy work.



August 22, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

ICE Has Arrested More Than 400 In Operation Targeting Parents Who Pay Smugglers


According to news reports, the U.S. government is putting immigrant parents in an impossible choice, reminiscent of the situation faced by a parent in the famous Meryl Streep movie Sophie's Choice.

Parents Immigration and Customs Enforcement has arrested more than 400 people in an operation targeting undocumented parents and guardians who allegedly paid smugglers to bring their children to the U.S., putting them in grave danger. An ICE spokesman tells NPR the domestic phase of its Human Smuggling Disruption Initiative concluded on Friday. He said the "surge initiative" will now shift its focus to the transnational smuggling organizations that bring the children to the U.S.-Mexico border.

The operation, which uses immigrant children to target their sponsors in the U.S., has been controversial. Immigrant advocates complain it is hampering efforts to reunite families.  Critics also say it was just another ICE roundup, and didn't have the intended effect of breaking up smuggling rings. The vast majority of those arrested have been hit with civil and criminal immigration violations. Only a handful were charged with federal smuggling crimes.



August 20, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 18, 2017

At the Movies: Human Flow, directed by Ai Weiwei


Human Flow is director and artist, Ai Weiwei's detailed and heartbreaking exploration into the global refugee crisis.  Ai Weiwei's film is set to be released his fall.  “Human Flow” looks at the modern refugee crisis.


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

Mila Kunis on Her Family's Immigration


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

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

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

“A better life for our children.”

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

John Oliver Tackles Border Patrol Hiring

John Oliver recently tackled President Trump's goal of increasing the number of Border Patrol officers in a short period of time.

The segment contains much of the same information as a 2014 article from Politico called The Green Monster. I've been using that reading for two years now to discuss the problems that can occur with surge hiring. It updates that piece and offers some great visuals.

For example, at 14:05-14:25 there's an image of the area where Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez was shot. I, like many of you I'm sure, followed the Rodriguez case. But I hadn't fully appreciated just how far away the 16-year-old was from Border Patrol until I saw that clip. If you're using that case in class, those 30 seconds of tape would be incredibly helpful to discussion.

I also thought that the discussion of boredom as a challenge for Border Patrol agents was very real and something for which students might not have an appreciation. (Check out 6:16-6:32). This phenomenon is one that I've found Border Patrol agents to be very upfront about. A lot of their time is spent waiting at fixed points, serving as a deterrent to unauthorized traffic. That can be hours at a time. And some agents will be sure to spend it in zones where cell reception (and therefore Netflix) is available. Others are able to handle the challenge of boredom and remain focused and alert.

Of course the boredom of the job is punctuated by moments of terror. Agents often work alone. And staffing and terrain may mean that backup is an hour or more out. So terror can spike when a single agent encounters a group of 20 unauthorized men, not immediately knowing if the men are drug smugglers or asylum seekers. (This is not a point made by John Oliver but one I think needs to be added.)

I recommend watching the entire segment. But I'm not sure it can be used as a whole in class. There are far too many sex jokes for my taste. That said, it's provocative and engaging. It would certainly grab students' attention. Though be prepared for conservatives to call it out as one-sided.


August 15, 2017 in Film & Television, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 14, 2017

Immigrant of the Day: Miguel Sanó


Miguel Sanó is the heavy hitting third baseman for the Minnesota Twins - my local team. (Yes, at five hours and another state away, they're still local. You can buy Twins gear at our Target. 'nuf said.)

Dominican-born Sanó is featured on B/R today in an in-depth and very sweet story about Sanó's struggles in the big leagues.

It was hard for Sanó just to get to the United States. Amateur players must be 16 before they can come to the U.S., and there were allegations that Sanó wasn't old enough. After an official investigation that included bone-density and DNA testing, the Twins were allowed to bring Sanó stateside as an amateur free agent. That was in 2009.

There's a documentary you can watch about this period of Sanó's life. It's called Ballplayer: Pelotero.

Sanó made it to the states, but he didn't escape hardship. In 2014, Sanó's first child, a daughter named Angelica, died just a week after her birth. Sanó struggled with suicidal thoughts following her death.

In 2015, Sanó went pro. His first season was a smashing success, but 2016 was less so as Sanó struggled emotionally and physically.

Sanó is now back on track. Last month, he was named an All-Star and competed in his first Home Run Derby, finishing second. Sanó has also welcomed a second child, a son, who is now 10 months old.

Here is Sanó's walk out music. It's a Reggaeton track by Ceky Viciny called “Klok Con Klok.”


August 14, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 11, 2017

Statue of Liberty (and Jennifer Lawrence) Make the Cover of Vogue

Friday, August 4, 2017

A Syrian Refugee's Perilous Journey to Europe -- On Film


The Guardian posted a video on Facebook that went viral.  The Guardian shared the film of a young Syrian woman who filmed her journey from the ruins of Kobane in Syria to Austria. Her footage shows what many refugees face on their perilous journey to Europe

Rania Mustafa Ali, 20, filmed her journey from the ruins of Kobane in Syria to Austria. She is cheated by smugglers, teargassed and beaten at the Macedonian border. She risks drowning in the Mediterranean, travelling in a boat meant to hold 15 people but stuffed with over 50. 

The film was produced and directed by Anders Somme Hammer.  It was edited by Mat Heywood for The Guardian and commissioned and executive produced by Michael Tait.



August 4, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Now on Netflix: Maz Jobrani: Immigrant


A Netflix original:  Maz Jobrani: Immigrant

Comic Maz Jobrani lights up the Kennedy Center with riffs on immigrant life in the Trump era, modern parenting pitfalls and more.  

Here is some background on the special.  A graduate of UC Berkeley, Jobrani fled the Iranian Revolution in the late 1970s at the age of six to move to the U.S. with his family. Filmed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the hour long special covers political humor about being an immigrant in the era of Trump, as well as observations about modern day parenting.

In addition to co-starring on CBS’ new comedy, Superior Donuts, which begins its second season this fall, Jobrani authored the best-selling book I’m Not A Terrorist; But I’ve Played One on TV.

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August 2, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)