Wednesday, September 30, 2015

At the Movies: No Más Bebés

Monday, September 28, 2015

At the Movies: 120 Days


120 Days to Say Goodbye: Immigration Gets Personal

The immigration debate gets personal with the debut feature-length documentary for award-winning filmmaker Ted Roach. Mr. Roach follows family man and undocumented immigrant Miguel Cortes who has been ordered to “voluntarily” leave the country within 120 days by an immigration judge. The film crew joined the Cortes family from the first day in court through Miguel's last official day in the United States, revealing a hidden side of an undocumented society that few Americans ever get to see.

The impassioned filmmaker premiered 120 Days at the Austin Film Festival and was subsequently selected for over 20 festivals, winning 10 awards and garnering 4 nominations and counting.  The film will hold its DC Theatrical Premiere the weekend of October 22-25, with featured screenings in the American University’s Human Rights Film Series, and the Greater Washington Immigration Film Festival. The film will also screen at the Napa Valley Film Festival in November.




September 28, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Could the Next House Speaker Do More on Immigration Reform?

Water bill floor speech

Bloomberg reports on the possibilities of immigration reform with a new Speaker of the House of Representatives.  With Speaker John Boehner's imminent retirement, the conventional wisdom is that House Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), will take his place. "

McCarthy would seem to have an interest in moving forward with immigration reform. His district, based in Bakersfield, California, is 35 percent Latino and heavily dependent on migrant labor for agriculture. But McCarthy has voted against the DREAM Act, voted to defund President Obama's deferred action programs, and voted to end "sanctuary cities."  However, at one point, McCarthy reportedly expressed support for a path to legalization for eligible undocumented immigrants.

McCarthy's official House website says the following on immigration:

"As a nation founded by immigrants, we should to continue embrace the individuals who wait in line and come to the United States legally to work hard and contribute to our society. However, we should not provide any amnesty that would benefit those who defy our laws and enter the United States illegally. In order to reduce the number of illegal immigrants in our country, we must enforce the laws that already exist. In order to do this, we must secure our border by using both physical as well as electronic barriers. We should also ensure that illegal immigrants are not receiving any of the benefits that are reserved for American Citizens."

The Washington Post looks at McCarthy's record and chances for ascendancy to the Speaker post here.

 One of the more interesting tidbits about McCarthy is unrelated to immigration.  New York Magazine reports that Kevin Spacey studied McCarthy while preparing for his role in House of Cards. When Spacey was preparing for the first season of House of Cards, his character, Frank Underwood, was still just a lowly House majority whip — as was Kevin McCarthy. So to put himself into the head of a career politician, Spacey followed McCarthy around the Capitol for several days.



September 27, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Only in America: Pope Francis Meets Sophie Cruz


When Pope Francis speaks of being an immigrant, he's referring to his birth in Argentina, to Italian parents. He is the first pope in 1,000 years not born in Europe.  Perhaps that is why immigration has been such a prominent story line in his visit to the United States.  Watch the video above and read this heartwarming story about Sophie Cruz, the child of undocumented immigrants, who traveled from Los Angeles to see the Pope and was greeted by him with open arms.

Cyrus Mehta comments on Sophie's meeting with Pope Francis here.


Photo courtesy of CBS News


September 24, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

American Muslims: Fact versus Fiction

This week one of the leading GOP Presidential candidates, Dr. Ben Carson, announced that all  Muslims should be disqualified from ever becoming President of the United States simply based on their faith. In Texas, a 14-year old student was arrested for inventing a clock that his teacher mistook for a bomb. The student happened to be Muslim. These two unfortunate events are only the most recent examples of a rising tide of suspicion and fear distorting the views of a segment of the general public.

This short film seeks to set the record straight -- American Muslims: Facts vs. Fiction. This eleven-minute film is the result of thousands of conversations with hundreds of different communities over the past several years, in which we have heard our American neighbors ask the same bias-skewed questions about their Muslim neighbors over and over. The assumptions embedded in these questions, assumptions instilled by the mainstream media, don't match up with the facts on the ground‹who American Muslims are, what they represent, and how they live their lives here.



September 23, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015



Photo courtesy of Hispanic Heritage

During National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15), we recognize the contributions made and the important presence of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States and celebrate their heritage and culture.

Hispanics have had a profound and positive influence on our country through their strong commitment to family, faith, hard work, and service. They have enhanced and shaped our national character with centuries-old traditions that reflect the multiethnic and multicultural customs of their community.

Hispanic Heritage Month, whose roots go back to 1968, begins each year on September 15, the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile and Belize also celebrate their independence days during this period and Columbus Day (Día de la Raza) is October 12.

President Obama issued this proclamation yesterday on Hispanic Heritage Month.



September 15, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs, Film & Television, Music, Religion, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 14, 2015

Arnold Schwarzenegger to replace Donald Trump as 'Celebrity Apprentice' host

Azealia Banks Agrees With Donald Trump On Immigration?


It seems that everyone, including Inqusitr, watch the social media posts of celebrities.  Rapper Azealia Banks took to Instagram to express apparent support for the hard-line anti-illegal immigration policy advanced by Donald Trump, the current GOP front-runner for the 2016 presidential nomination.

Banks posted the following Instagram message.

“Do you think it’s bad that I sort of agree with Trump’s stance on immigration? Not for any reason other than black Americans still not having been paid reparations for slavery and the influx [of] INTERNATIONAL immigrants (not just Mexicans), are sucking up state aid, and government money, space in schools, quality of life etc.?? It’s selfish, but America has been really good at convincing me that everyone else’s problems are more important than my own. I want my f*****g money!!…Me first!!!…Thoughts?"


September 14, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

At the Movies: Meet the Undocumented Immigrant Who Works in a Trump Hotel

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Sarah Palin: We Should All "Speak American"

Thursday, September 3, 2015

As Central American Migration Has Risen, Mexico’s New Enforcement Role Is

The United States and Mexico have apprehended nearly 1 million Salvadoran, Guatemalan and Honduran migrants since 2010, deporting more than 800,000 of them, including more than 40,000 children. While the United States led in pace and number of apprehensions of Central Americans in 2010-2014, Mexico has since pulled ahead, apprehending one-third more adults and children than the United States so far this year.

Amid increasingly muscular enforcement by Mexico, U.S. apprehensions of Central Americans for fiscal 2015 to date have fallen by more than half compared to the prior year. Many of those who previously would have made it to the U.S. border and been apprehended by the Border Patrol now are being intercepted by Mexican authorities.

The findings are contained in a new Migration Policy Institute (MPI) report, Migrants Deported from the United States and Mexico to the Northern Triangle: A Statistical and Socioeconomic Profile, which suggests that the increased Mexican enforcement capacity is reshaping regional dynamics and perhaps ushering in changes to long-lasting trends in regional apprehensions.

“The main force at play in the region today with respect to immigration enforcement is the ‘squeezing of the balloon’,” said Doris Meissner, director of MPI’s U.S. immigration policy program and co-director of MPI’s Regional Migration Study Group, which produced the report. “To succeed, responses to regional migration dynamics must move beyond shifting the flows and instead begin deflating the pressures that generate them.”

To achieve a more comprehensive policy, the report suggests that the United States and Mexico, working with Central America, should design migration policies with workable enforcement and humanitarian protection as well as development policies that address poor standards of living, improve citizen security in the Northern Triangle and facilitate the re-integration of deportees.

While the U.S. public and policymakers focused intensely in 2014 on the dramatic increase in unaccompanied minor flows, the MPI researchers find that Mexico has deported nearly 80 percent of the Central American minors apprehended by both countries since 2010. Mexico’s deportations as a share of apprehensions rate also greatly exceeds that of the United States: for every 100 minors apprehended in Mexico in 2014, 77 were deported, compared to three out of 100 for those apprehended in the United States.

The report also offers a profile of deportees to the Northern Triangle, finding that the majority are young males with low educational attainment levels, most having experience in low-skilled jobs but with nearly 40 percent reporting they were unemployed in the 30 days before setting off on their journey.

And contrary to the stereotype that many young Central American migrants are gang members, the MPI researchers report that the majority of deportees do not have a criminal background. Ninety-five percent of child deportees and 61 percent of adult deportees had never been convicted of a crime. For those with a criminal record, 63 percent had been convicted of immigration or traffic offenses or other non-violent crimes. Twenty-nine percent of those with criminal convictions had committed violent offenses and 9 percent drug offenses.

Among the report’s other top findings:

  • More than 60 percent of deportees to Central America are younger than 29, more than 80 percent are male, and more than 53 percent have an  elementary-level education or less. Only 2 percent have university-level education.
  • Among youth younger than 18 who were deported by the United States or Mexico, the majority are boys between ages 12 and 17. However, the surge in overall child inflows since 2013 has also been marked by a sharp increase in the number and proportion of migrants coming from the most vulnerable groups: children under the age of 12 and girls. This increase may be  indicative of deteriorating conditions in the region.
  • Even though the number of child apprehensions tripled in 2010-2014, minors made up a relatively small share of deportations to the Northern Triangle—less than 18,000, or around 8 percent of all deportations in 2014.
  • Apprehensions of Central Americans by the United States and Mexico more than tripled      between 2010 and 2014, rising from approximately 100,000 to more than 340,000. Deportations also increased during the period, although not as rapidly, from 142,000 in 2010 to more than 213,000 in 2014.

MPI’s online journal, the Migration Information Source, has just published a demographic profile of Central American immigrants in the United States, which is available here.


September 3, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 31, 2015

Bobby Jindal: Immigrants must Assimilate!


Republican presidential candidate Bobby Jindal said Sunday the U.S. must insist that immigrants do a better job of assimilating into American culture to avoid problems facing Europe. "We need to insist people that want to come to our country should come legally, should learn English and adopt our values, roll up their sleeves, and get to work," Jindal, the Louisiana governor, said in an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation." "We need to insist on assimilation. You know, in Europe they're not doing that. They've got huge problems. Immigration without assimilation is invasion. That can weaken our country." "Let's forget this politically correct left notion that we're not a melting pot anymore," he added.

Judge for yourself. 


August 31, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Empire Strikes Back? Trump et al. on Immigration: This is the Republican Party

Monday, August 24, 2015

Immigrant of the Day: Jarryd Hayne (Australia), San Francisco 49ers


 Born in Sydney, Jarryd Lee Hayne who plays for the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League. He previously starred playing professional rugby for the Parramatta Eels of the National Rugby League.

ESPN has kept its eyes on Jarryd Hayne, the Australian rugby star attempting to cross over as an NFL player.  In the 49ers preseason game last night against the Dallas Cowboys, Hayne again impressed as a punt returner and running back. The 49ers beat the Cowboys 23-6.  In ESPN's words,

"A surprise player who looks amazing: The Jarryd Hayne Show continued. A week after the Australian rugby star accounted for 120 total yards in Houston, Hayne returned three punts for 84 yards, with each return eliciting more oohs and ahhs. His first punt return, though, was especially epic in that he made like Willie Mays with an over-the-shoulder catch before bringing it back 27 yards. He also had eight carries for 54 yards while flashing his stiff-arm to Cowboys safety Jeff Heath in the open field on a 23-yard run to the left. So, in two preseason games, the Aussie has 258 total yards, averaging 9.0 yards per carry, 21.6 yards per punt return and 33.0 yards per kickoff return."


August 24, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Beat Goes on: Jeb Bush, Donald Trump Unapologetic for 'Anchor Baby' Language

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Immigrant of the Day: Jirayut Latthivongskorn (Thailand), Med Student


Here is a "feel good" story for our readers.  Jirayut Latthivongskorn, now a medical student, left his native country of Thailand at the age of nine with his family to pursue the American dream. “For my parents, moving to America was the best and only choice.” Once they were in America, Latthivongskorn’s parents worked in restaurants to make ends meet and they encouraged him to pursue an education. He graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in molecular and cell biology.  Latthivongskorn was one of the founders of a nonprofit called Pre-Health Dreamers, which helps other undocumented students who were pursuing a higher education in the medical field. Three and a half years later, Pre-Health Dreamers’ network now consists of 450 undocumented students, one third of them in the Bay Area.


August 15, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 8, 2015

6 things Donald Trump doesn’t know about immigration


Market Watch has a nice list of immigration facts for presidential candidate Donald Trump.

1. Myth: Immigrants commit more crime than Americans.

    Fact: Immigrants are less likely to be criminals than native-born Americans.


2. Myth: Immigrants take jobs away from American citizens.

    Fact: Most immigrants don’t compete directly with American citizens for jobs.

3. Myth: Immigrants drive down wages.

    Fact: Immigrant have different education levels and job skills than Americans


4. Myth: Illegal immigrants don't pay taxes.

    Fact: Illegal immigrants in the U.S. paid $11.84 billion in taxes in 2012.


5. Myth: Illegal immigrants exploit the U.S. welfare system.

    Fact: Illegal immigrants aren't eligible for federal benefit programs such as Social Security, Medicaid, and food stamps.

6. Myth: The U.S. doesn't need more immigrants.

    Fact: New immigrants will replenish the workforce as about 77 million baby boomers start reaching retirement age.


August 8, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 6, 2015

POV’s ‘Neuland,’ a Poignant Look at Young Migrants Trying to Make a New Life In Switzerland, Premieres Aug. 17, 2015 on PBS


Far from Home, Young Migrants Learn to Find Their Place in the World with the Help of a Trusted Teacher 

Students Hamidullah and Ehsanullah in Neuland. Credit: Gabriela Betschart.

Meet the young students in Mr. Zingg’s integration class, who came to Switzerland by planes, trains and automobiles—and even by rubber boats. Separated from their families and in many cases traumatized by events in their home countries, these migrants from Afghanistan, Cameroon, Serbia and Venezuela already have long and arduous journeys behind them. Neuland (“New Territory”) follows the adolescents over two years as they struggle to learn a new language, prepare themselves for employment and reveal their innermost hopes and dreams. But as the end of school draws near, each student must face the same difficult question: Is there a place for me in this country?
Anna Thommen’s Neuland has its national broadcast premiere on Monday, Aug. 17, 2015 at 10 p.m. (check local listings) during the 28th season of the PBS series POV (Point of View). POV is American television’s longest-running independent documentary series and the recipient of a 2013 MacArthur Foundation Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. Neuland will stream online from Aug. 18 to Sept. 16, 2015. Watch the trailer here

As part of an effort to preserve its national identity, Switzerland—a country with four official languages and a large number of foreign residents—established a policy of integrating asylum seekers by teaching shared values and tolerance. Those receiving government support are required to take language courses and enroll in job training and professional development. While the country encourages foreigners to find their places, Switzerland also wants these new residents to fit into the existing culture and to succeed as good citizens and workers.
The students in Mr. Zingg's class are all escaping something—war, family problems, poverty. There is Ehsanullah Habibi, who has finally made it from Afghanistan to Switzerland after traveling for a year on borrowed money—a staggering $20,000. His anxious family waits back home for him to send the loan payments—or the lender will take their property. Brother and sister Ismail and Nazlije Aliji left their home country of Serbia after their mother died. Smart, eager and dedicated, Nazlije longs to be a primary school teacher, but she realizes her dream may be out of reach when she hears how many years of education that would require. 

“I was impressed by the trust the pupils placed in their teacher,” said Thommen. "When Mr. Zingg told me some of the unbelievable stories about the fates of his pupils, I knew I wanted to make a film about this. We decided to accompany him and his next class over the two years from the beginning through the end of their schooling. I genuinely hope that it will touch the viewers and sensitize them to the fates of these young migrants and others like them who are stranded on our shores every day.”

About Anna Thommen, Writer/Director:
Anna Thommen was born in Basel, Switzerland, in 1980. After working for two years as a primary school teacher, she decided to study film at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts in 2005. Her graduation film, Second Me, won numerous awards and was shown at more than 20 festivals around the world. Thommen received her master’s degree in film directing in 2013 from the Zurich University of the Arts. Neuland was her graduation film, and it has won a dozen international film prizes, including Best German Language Documentary at the 2013 Zurich Film Festival and the First Steps Award at the 2013 Berlinale and continues to be shown around the world.

Read the full press release here


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

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

At the Movies: Facing Fear


In the documentary Facing Fear, we see a former neo-Nazi skinhead and the gay victim of his hate crime meet by chance 25 years later, reconcile, and collaborate in educational presentations.

In this Academy Award-nominated short documentary, worlds collide when a former neo-Nazi skinhead and the gay victim of his hate crime attack meet by chance 25 years after the incident that dramatically shaped both of their lives. Together, they embark on a journey of forgiveness that challenges both to grapple with their beliefs and fears, eventually leading to an improbable collaboration...and friendship.

FACING FEAR retraces the haunting accounts of the attack and the startling revelation that brought these men together again. Delving deep into their backgrounds, the roots of the ideologies that shape how they handle the reconciliation process are exposed. Self-doubt, anger and fear are just a few of the emotions they struggle through as they come to terms with their unimaginable situation.


August 4, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

At the Movies: Somewhere Between


Somewhere Between

WINNER PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARD, Hot Docs Los Angeles Film Festival JURY PRIZE BEST DOCUMENTARY, Milwaukee Film Festival Vancouver International Film Festival

When China passed its One Child Policy to limit population growth, an unexpected surge of abandoned baby girls started flowing into its orphanages. Since 1991, over 80,000 of those girls have been adopted by American families. While many adoption-focused documentaries give voice to adoptive parents, Somewhere Between explores the emotional and cultural impact of adoption from the point of view of four teenage girls, all adopted from China. This award winning film shares their personal journeys as these adoptees convey the experiences of a generation of young people attempting to reconcile their multiple identities while navigating the already perilous waters of American adolescence.

A recent adoptive parent of her own Chinese baby, filmmaker Linda Goldstein Knowlton opens the film expressing her concerns for her daughter. How will she build a strong sense of identity as she grows older? Will she feel like an “outsider” living in a family with two Caucasian parents? How will she supplement the missing pieces of her early life? Goldstein Knowlton seeks these answers by chronicling the experiences over two years of Haley, Jenna, Ann, and Fang, all struggling to find their place in the world. Each girl approaches her Chinese heritage differently, connecting with her birth culture in varying degrees. And each grapple in different ways with the the discrimination and racism they face, as their identity challenges typical ideas about race and culture for themselves and their communities.

Shedding stereotypes and a one-size-fits-all identity, Somewhere Between poignantly conveys the vulnerability, confusion, and courage of these girls as they wonder, “Who am I?” As Somewhere Between plunges the viewer into their ordinary and sometimes extraordinary experiences, we too, are encouraged to pause and consider who we are —both as individuals and as a nation of immigrants and people from diverse backgrounds.



July 29, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)