Monday, January 26, 2015

At the Movies: Writ Writer



WRIT WRITER tells the story of a self-taught jailhouse lawyer named Fred Arispe Cruz who challenged the constitutionality of prison conditions in Texas in the 1960s, and launched the state’s prisoners’ rights movement. The film uses narration adapted from prison diaries, letters, legal pleadings, and courtroom testimony by writer Dagoberto Gilb (The Flowers, The Last Known Residence of Mickey Acuna, The Magic of Blood, and Gritos) and performed in voice-over by actor Jesse Borrego (24, The New World, Blood In, Blood Out). Archival film footage is drawn from documentary films about Texas prisons and several large collections of still photography complement the motion picture. With recollections from Cruz’s friends and contemporaries - including ex-convicts, prisoners, and former wardens – further personalizing it, the film’s narrative spine and visual history creates an honest, unsentimental portrayal of Cruz. The music in the film was written and performed by Gabe Rhodes (Austin-based musician and producer), with additional compositions by composer and musician Joel Guzman using the traditional accordion sounds of Central and South Texas. WRIT WRITER recalls the prisoners’ rights movement of the Civil Rights era here in the U.S., and the conditions that inspired prisoners like Fred Cruz to speak out.


January 26, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

On the Tube: Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin is a CW comedy with an unusual premise: A young virgin is artificially inseminated by mistake. Does that sound like a telenovela? Well, it's adapted from one.

The show is getting a lot of current attention after its star, Gina Rodriguez, beat out some heavy hitters to win this year's Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy.

Rolling Stone calls the show this season's sleeper hit. The magazine credits Rodriguez, noting: "She does much of the heavy lifting when it comes to making an absurd premise believable, and her everygirl charm is the glue that successfully holds together a mix of romance, melodrama, offbeat humor and fantasy."

The show's creator (as well as writer-producer) Jennie Snyder Urman told Rolling Stone that she has been affected by the support her show has received from Latina viewers:

I'm white, so I see that representation all the time. It has been a moving experience to hear young girls who watch the show explain how important it is for them to see themselves onscreen, and to see a young Latina who is defined by her ambition and dreams.

And now, according to The Hollywood ReporterJane will tackle immigration! Stay tuned.



January 20, 2015 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 17, 2015

On Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


It is Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend and a time for remembrance.  Many Americans no doubt will see the inspiration film Selma.  Many will spend Monday in a Martin Luther King, Jr. day of service to the community.

I have the honor working at a law school housed in a building named after Dr. King.  Years ago, the Black Law Students Association commissioned and installed a statue of Dr. King in the lobby of the main entrance to the law school.

Pipeline Day 2014

On the eve of the weekend, I sent this message out to the greater law school community:

Dear King Hall Community,

As we celebrate our federal holiday honoring the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the King Hall community can take pride in remembering the deep ties between UC Davis School of Law, Dr. King, and his mission.

The connection extends to the School of Law’s earliest years.  After Dr. King was assassinated in April 1968, a group of students, faculty, and staff petitioned UC Davis administrators to name the new law building after him as a way of honoring his memory and dedicating the School of Law to King’s ideals of social justice and public service. On April 12, 1969, the building was officially christened King Hall in a ceremony presided over by Hon. Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the United States, who said, "Even in the naming of the building, one can sense the high purpose to which its facilities are to be dedicated."

In 1981, Dr. King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, visited UC Davis to deliver the Law School’s commencement address, and his son Martin Luther King III visited King Hall in 1986. The following year, a sculpture of Dr. King by artist Lisa Reinertson was placed in the King Hall lobby, thanks to the efforts of students and alumni. The statute still graces the entrance to King Hall, alongside a touch-screen video exhibit devoted to Dr. King, and several famous quotations from the civil rights icon are prominently displayed on the walls upstairs.

Most importantly, UC Davis School of Law has always retained a dedication to the ideals of social justice, equality, and public service espoused by Dr. King.  We can all take pride in the work of our faculty, which so often directly addresses the most compelling social issues of our time, the efforts of our students, who each year contribute thousands of hours to providing access to justice to those in need via our King Hall clinics, and our alumni, so many of whom work in public service or devote a portion of their practice to helping those in need.  Because of all that you do, King Hall is making a difference in our community, our state, and our world.

I hope you will enjoy your Martin Luther King Day holiday, and I look forward to working together to help realize Dr. King’s dream in the years to come.

Kevin R. Johnson







January 17, 2015 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 16, 2015

At the Movies: Spare Parts

Spare parts

In the new film Spare Parts (2015), four Mexican immigrant high school students form a robotics club. With no experience, 800 bucks, used car parts and a dream, this rag tag team goes up against the country's reigning robotics champion, MIT.   George Lopez, Marisa Tomei, and Jamie Lee Curtis are in the film.

While the movie tells an inspirational story reminiscent of David versus Goliath, Joshua Davis in the New York Times tells the heartbreaking real life stories of the four immigrants and their efforts to succeed in college after winning the robotics championship. Davis, who was the author of the book Spare Parts, was recently interviewed on Capital Public Radio.




The real life protagonists of "Spare Parts.  Photo courtesy of Capital Public Radio


UPDATE (Jan. 18):  I saw the film over the Martin Luther KIng Jr. weekend.  Despite being a bit melodramatic at times, it tells an engaging, thought-provoking, and inspiring story that leaves one wondering "How can we treat people like this?"  Spare Parts made me think about many things besides the main story, such as what it would be like to be the parent of an undocumented child (including with a U.S. ciitizen child who may have many more opportunitiues), what it would be like to have your spouse deported (Esai Morales' resorts to alcohol in the movie), and the challenges of mixed immigration status relationships.


January 16, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

More Immigration at the AALS: AALS Academic Symposium on Executive Action

We have worked hard to keep our readers approsed of the immigration programs at the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Law Schools, including posts on the Hart Cellar Act session and the Anti-Poverty session. Below are links to the AALS Academic Symposium on Executive Action. 

Separation of Powers (including Jill Family and Joseph Landau on immigration, moderated by Ming Shu Chen)

Federalism (including Raquel Aldana as moderator and Deep Gulasakarem on immigration)

DACA (including Alina Das as moderator, Shoba Wadhia, Peter Margulies, Geoffrey Heeren, Juliet Stumpf)



January 6, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New on the Tube: Bordertown


Bordertown is an upcoming American adult animated sitcom on Fox created by Family Guy writer Mark Hentemann and executive-produced by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane.  It will premiere in spring 2015.  Bordertown will follow two families living in a Southwest desert town on the United States–Mexico border. pisode first season will premiere in spring 2015.

Bordertown takes place in a fictitious town in Texas.  The two main characters are Bud Buckwald and Ernesto Gonzalez. Bud is a Border Patrol officer living with his wife, Janice Buckwald, and their three children, Becky, Sanford, and Gert. Living next door to him is Ernesto Gonzalez, an ambitious immigrant and family man, who has been in the country less than 10 years and is happy to be with his family in the United States.[

Cartoonist and social commentator Lalo Alcaraz is one of the writers for Bordertown.



December 30, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

At the Movies: A Most Violent Year


A Most Violent Year, which opens December 31, in a nutshell: 

A thriller set in New York City during the winter of 1981, statistically one of the most violent years in the city's history, and centered on a the lives of an immigrant and his family trying to expand their business and capitalize on opportunities as the rampant violence, decay, and corruption of the day drag them in and threaten to destroy all they have built.  The film is one immigrant’s determined climb up a morally crooked ladder, where simmering rivalries and unprovoked attacks threaten his business, family, and––above all––his unwavering belief in the righteousness of his own path.

Here is the official movie website.



December 30, 2014 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 28, 2014

At the Movies: A Comprehensive List of Immigration Movies and Documentaries

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

At the Movies: The Interview to Premiere on Christmas Day

Thursday, December 11, 2014

At the Movies: 14: Dred Scott, Wong Kim Ark & Vanessa Lopez

14 dred scott

A documentary film "14: Dred Scott, Wong Kim Ark & Vanessa Lopez" is finished and available for Educational Use and Public Performance Licensing. The 67-minute documentary is an excellent resource for Constitutional Law courses.

The film explores the recurring question about who has the right to be a U.S. citizen. It examines the citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment through compelling personal stories and expertly-told history. The 14th Amendment provides that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

The film tells the history of the 14th Amendment through the lives of three ordinary and extraordinary American families who changed history by their courageous challenges to the powerful status quo. Descendants of Dred and Harriet Scott and those of Wong Kim Ark tell the stories of how their ancestors fought all the way to the Supreme Court and changed American history. Rosario Lopez and her daughter Vanessa are both activists in the immigrant rights youth movement. Born in the United States and a citizen under the 14th Amendment, Vanessa wants to be “either an artist, a photographer, a lawyer, or a marine biologist” and President of the United States. It is the citizenship of millions of children like Vanessa Lopez, born in the United States to undocumented parents, that is at stake now.  

In United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898), the U.S. Supreme Court held, generally speaking, that a person -- even the child of undocumented immigrants -- born in the United States is a U.S. citizen under the 14th Amendment.  This decision established an important precedent in its interpretation of the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment.



December 11, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Paddington: The Bear Who Humanizes Migration


U.K. immigraiton barrister Colin Yeo has written a terrific review of the Paddington movie. Colin writes: "Paddington is a walking, talking, ursine pin-up for humanising our work." "Paddington’s story is that of the modern migrant. He is in many ways typical of my clients. This is more than a mere subtext to the film and it is, I hope, instructive to consider his tale from a legal perspective." And so he does.

This is one kid's movie I can't wait to see with my boys.


December 3, 2014 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

SNL Takes on President Obama's Executive Action

An excellent video to spark in-class discussion!



November 23, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Professor Michael Olivas: House should be ashamed of its reaction to Obama's executive action


In this op/ed, Professor Michael Olivas criticizes Republicans in the House of Represntatives for the strong negative public reactions to President Obama's latest immigration initiatives.  In so doing, he kicks things off with a wonderful film analogy:

"In `Casablanca,' the greatest immigration movie ever made, the police round up the `usual suspects.' We see Rick meet Ilsa in one of the great `gin joints in all the world,' and Inspector Renault is `shocked … shocked!' at the gambling going on, as he is handed his winnings. Who knew this improbable 1942 wartime movie classic was to be reprised by today's elected officials?"





November 23, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Drawings By Themselves: Portraits of America

Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) is a national nonprofit "working to end the isolation and abuse of men, women, and children in U.S. immigration detention through visitation, independent monitoring, storytelling, and advocacy."

The group recently posted the following video to youtube. It tells the story of Carolina, a 16-year-old girl in U.S. immigration detention.



November 22, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

At the Movies: The Stranger



“The Stranger” is a 40-minute documentary film commissioned by the Evangelical Immigration Table and produced by Emmy-award winning producer Linda Midgett. The Stranger profiles three immigrant stories and includes interviews with local and national Christian leaders. By highlighting biblical teaching related to immigrants, sharing compelling stories of immigrants who are also evangelical Christians, and addressing some common economic and political misconceptions, The Stranger seeks to mobilize evangelical Christians to respond to immigrants and to immigration policy in ways that are consistent with biblical principles.


November 20, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

MIke Nichols RIP


A recent Immigrant of the Day, film director Mike Nichols (Germany), has passed away.  Nichols began his career as an actor in a comedy troupe before making his Tony Award-winning directorial debut with the 1964 Broadway production Barefoot in the Park. Expanding into film, he directed Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and then The Graduate, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Director, in 1967. He is one of only a handful of individuals who have received Emmy, Oscar, Tony and Grammy awards.


November 20, 2014 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Facebook Quote of the Day: "I will accept anti-immigration comments on this page only from people whose ancestors were born here."

MY POLICY: I will accept anti-immigration comments on this page only from people whose ancestors were born here.

November 20, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"Orange is the New Black" Actress Calls for Immigration Reform


During an interview on CNN, actress Diane Guerrero broke down in tears as she recalled that she was only 14 when her parents were deported. In an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times that was published over the weekend, the “Orange Is the New Black” actress used her own story to highlight the need for immigration reform.

Guerrero told CNN host Michaela Pereira that she came home from performing arts school one day at the age of 14, and could not find her parents. “I got home, and their cars were there and dinner was started and the lights were on, but I couldn’t find them,” she said, choking up. “It was really hard.”

Guerrero said that, although she is a U.S. citizen, no one from the government ever spoke to her or checked on her welfare after her parents were detained, and eventually deported to Colombia

Click here for more on this story.



November 18, 2014 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

No Sanctuary: The Big Business of Family Detention


Get your ticket today before they sell out.

Friday, November 21st, 2014, 7 PM to 8:30 PM at the Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC) 600 River Street, Austin, TX 78701

The Texas-made film follows our government's response to refugees and migrants in the creation and expansion of new private prisons for these families in remote and isolated areas of the Southwest. Reversing the progress of the immigrant rights movement and his own previous decisions, President Obama has surpassed the Bush administration in expanding the use of detention centers for refugee families. This history is portrayed and told by the people who live it and shines light on the growing grassroots movement fighting to close these family prisons and welcoming our neighbors with compassion.

The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker, participants in the film and organizers working on solutions and with information on how to get involved.


November 12, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Immigrant of the Day: Milos Forman From Czech Republic | Film Director


Photo courtesy of IMDb

Milos Forman From Czech Republic | Film Director

Famed film director Milos Forman was orphaned at the age of nine when his parents were killed in Nazi concentration camps. Introduced to the theater by his older brother, he studied at the Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in Prague and began working in theater productions. He later began to work in film, both as a writer and director, while struggling against the repressive Communist government. In 1969, he made his first American film, Taking Off, which was a critical success, but it wasn’t until 1975 that he achieved real fame with his adaptation of Ken Kesey’s novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The film won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director—a feat he topped, in 1985, with the film Amadeus, which won eight Oscars. His more recent films include The People vs. Larry Flynt, Man on the Moon, and Goya’s Ghosts. He is also a professor at Columbia University and director of its film division.



November 4, 2014 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)