Thursday, July 24, 2014

Immigrant America in the Dairy Industry: They Steal Our Jobs?


In "Immigrant America: They Steal Our Jobs?," Vice News reports on immigrants in the dairy industry:  "Milking cows is a dirty, monotonous job, and as we found out in our latest episode of Immigrant America, it's not a job many unemployed Americans are willing to do. But for some reason the government doesn't give dairy farms a way to recruit foreign workers legally, so most feel forced to hire illegal immigrants. This makes the farms and their workers easy targets for immigration authorities looking to fill deportation quotas. We went to upstate New York to try to understand the cat and mouse game going on between dairy farms and immigration authorities. We found a lot of wasted taxpayer money, racial profiling, and a broken system that unnecessarily treats family farmers and hardworking immigrants like criminals."


July 24, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Immigrant of the Day: Sara Ramirez (Mexico)


Sara Ramirez, a film and theater actress, was born in 1975 in Mazatlan, Mexico. Best known for her role as Dr. Callie Torres, on the popular television hospital drama Grey’s Anatomy, she has also appeared in films including You’ve Got Mail and Spiderman. She has won numerous awards for her stage work, including the 2005 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical, for her performance in the Broadway show Spamalot.

Ramirez's father was Mexican and her mother was of half Mexican and half Irish-American descent. When Ramirez was eight years old, her mother took her to Tierrasanta, in San Diego, California, where they settled. After completing the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts in San Diego, California, Ramirez attended and graduated from the Juilliard School (B.F.A. '97, drama) in New York City, where she refined her skills as an actress. Ramirez speaks both Spanish and English fluently.


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

Monday, July 7, 2014

At the Movies: Enemy of the Reich: The Noor Inayat Khan Story


Throughout the 1930′s, an unimaginable evil tore through Europe, as Hitler’s Third Reich terrorized its way to domination. During these tumultuous times, a young Muslim woman living in Paris found her calling. Noor Inayat Khan grew up in a home that fostered faith and hope. Leading with her heart, she overcame her quiet nature and joined Winston Churchill’s covert operation to give the Allies a new chance at victory. This is her story.

This fall, millions of viewers will learn the riveting story of how an unlikely Muslim woman of mixed Indian and American parentage came to serve as a British spy in Paris during World War II, as PBS brings to television the exciting true story of Noor Inayat Khan on Tuesday, September 9. This remarkable story is being brought to the screen in the docudrama “Enemy of the Reich: The Noor Inayat Khan Story.”

In August of 1943, the last surviving clandestine radio operator in Paris desperately signaled London for additional weapons and supplies for the French underground. The Gestapo was closing in and she knew her time was limited. Everything depended on her. How did a Sorbonne educated musician, a student of child psychology, and an author of a book of fairy tales become a daring spy who died fighting the Nazis?

There are countless stories of heroism from World War II, with seemingly every angle and every point of view represented. What has rarely been told, however, are the stories about the contributions of Muslims of all nationalities. Noor Inayat Khan, a proud Muslim woman whose faith guided her in her journey, is the type of role model that young women across the world, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, have long sought out – a woman whose heroism was not defined by any other person but herself.

With an American mother and Indian Muslim father who was the founder of the Sufi Order in the West, Noor Inayat Khan was an extremely unusual British agent, and her life spent growing up in a Sufi center of learning in Paris seemed an unlikely preparation for the dangerous work to come. Yet, it was in this place of universal peace and contemplation that her remarkable courage was forged.

When the Nazis invaded France in 1940, she fled to England with her widowed mother and three younger siblings and could have waited out the war in relative safety. But, she felt compelled by the lessons of tolerance and inclusiveness of her upbringing and religion to take an active role in opposing the Nazis. She joined Britain’s Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, and was recruited as a wireless operator into Winston Churchill's Special Operations Executive (SOE), secretly returning to Paris to support the French Underground as England prepared for the D-Day invasions.

After the penetration and arrest of her entire network by the Gestapo, Noor became the only surviving radio operator in Paris during four crucial months of the war, coordinating the air-drop of weapons, supplies and agents, and supporting the rescue of downed allied fliers. She was ultimately betrayed by a French collaborator and interrogated for months by the Gestapo. She never gave up any information, not even her real name, and she organized two breakouts from Gestapo headquarters. For this and the damage she did to the Nazi’s war efforts, she was executed in Dachau. 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of her birth. Narrated by Academy Award winning actress Helen Mirren, the film’s Executive Producers Alex Kronemer and Michael Wolfe continue Unity Productions Foundation’s series of award-winning documentaries aimed at bringing less-known stories from the Muslim world to the greater public. The film was produced and directed by three-time Emmy Award winner and Academy Award nominee Rob Gardner. With a team of international scholars and two of her surviving family members, the documentary is produced as docudrama in a cinematic style.

July 7, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 31, 2014

At the Movies: The Stranger


“The Stranger” is a 45-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.

The film will be released on June 4, 2014.

May 31, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

At the Movies: Detroit Unleaded


Detroit Unleaded.  A fresh take on boy-meets-girl comedy set in Detroit. Sami (E.J. Assi) runs his immigrant family's gas station with his cousin Mike (Mike Batayeh, “Breaking Bad”), a charismatic hustler with dreams of expanding into an unleaded empire. More than just a pit stop for late-night gas and rolling papers, their station is where a steady stream of unforgettable and often hilarious customers flow through. When a gorgeous "up-do girl" named Najlah (Nada Shouhayib) comes to deliver cheap long-distance phone cards, Sami quickly falls for her from behind the bulletproof glass. Afraid her overprotective brother Fadi (Steven Soro) will disapprove, Najlah begins an under-the-counter romance with Sami, making his shift anything but routine. ​ ​Made and cast in Detroit, the film stars first-time feature actors EJ Assi and Nada Shouhayib, along with Actor/Comedian Mike Batayeh (Breaking Bad, You Don't Mess with the Zohan), Mary Assel, Steven Soro, and Lebanese film and television Star Akram El-Ahmar.



May 24, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Film of the Day: How Democracy Works Now

During lunch at the Immigration Law Teachers Workshop 2014 today, where I am live blogging, there was  a discussion with documentary filmmakers Michael Camerini & Shari Robertson. Camerini and Robertson, who are known for their documentary, Well-Founded Fear, featured clips of their 2010 decomentary, How Democracy Works Now.

How Democracy Works Now tells the story of the fight for immigration reform between 2001 and 2007. It tells twelve stories - from the August 2001 negotiations for immigration reform pre-9/11 to Spring 2007 when Senator Ted Kennedy was advocating for reform - that seek to depict the struggles, compromises and strategies for changing immigration law. 


May 23, 2014 in Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

At the Movies: Cesar's Last Fast


Cesar's Last Fast

 In 1988, Cesar Chavez embarked on what would be his last act of protest in his remarkable life. Driven in part to pay penance for feeling he had not done enough, Chavez began his "Fast for Life," a 36-day water-only hunger strike, to draw attention to the horrific effects of unfettered pesticide use on farm workers, their families, and their communities. Using never-before-seen footage of Chavez during his fast and testimony from those closest to him, directors Richard Ray Perez and Lorena Parlee weave together the larger story of Chavez's life, vision, and legacy. A deeply religious man, Chavez's moral clarity in organizing and standing with farmworkers at risk of his own life humbled his family, friends, and the world.


May 8, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

At the Movies: La jaula de oro


La jaula de oro

The startling debut film from Diego Quemada-Díez presents a stark and unsentimental look at the realities of migration. Centering on the story of three young Guatemalans attempting to cross the U.S. border from Mexico, La jaula de oro compels viewers to contemplate the harsh circumstances that many migrants must face. Juan, Samuel, and Sara (who is forced to disguise herself as a boy) embark on a journey that they believe will culminate in a life of ease and comfort once they arrive in the United States. Hitching rides on cargo trains, they cross paths with Chauk, an adolescent boy from Chiapas who does not speak Spanish. As the four youngsters travel together, they encounter barrier after barrier, leading them to wonder whether the "good life" will remain forever elusive and out of reach.


May 6, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

VIDEO: Exposing Operation Streamline


Students at the University of Arizona produced this video "Exposing Operation Streamline."

Operation Streamline was initially implemented along the U.S./Mexico border by the Bush Administration in 2005.  The program charges criminally persons who crosses the border without authorization. In other words, it is a “zero tolerance” border enforcement program that targets even first time undocumented border-crossers. Instead of routing non-violent individuals caught crossing the border into civil deportation proceedings, Operation Streamline forces undocumented migrants through the federal criminal justice system and into U.S. prisons. Those who are caught making a first entry are prosecuted for misdemeanors, and those who reenter after deportation may be prosecuted for felonies punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Under this fast-track program, a federal criminal case with prison and deportation consequences is generally resolved in 2 days or less.


May 1, 2014 in Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 28, 2014

Si Se Puede: Cesar Chavez, The Man Vs.The Movie


This episode of NPR's Alt.Latino focuses on Cesar Chavez, the recent biopic about the civil-rights activist and labor leader and the movement to unionize farm workers. The film has been credited as an example of a Latino filmmaker telling the kinds of stories often ignored by mainstream cinema. It's also been taken to task for glossing over the contributions of Filipino organizers to the creation of the United Farm Workers union, while also minimizing Dolores Huerta's role in the movement during the time depicted in the film.  Gustavo Arellano, author of the column Ask A Mexican, and film critic Anne Hoyt discuss the conflicting views that the film has generated since its March release.



April 28, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Immigrant of the Day Lupita Nyong'o named People's most beautiful person of 2014

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

One View of the Obama Administration's Immigration Record



April 23, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

"El Voto Hispano" documentary - Official Kickstarter video


"El Voto Hispano" is a documentary about the emerging power of the Hispanic vote in national elections and what it means for America.


April 23, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Border Checkpoint Video: Is This How It Works? NOT

Monday, March 31, 2014

At the Movies: The Grand Budapest Hotel


The Grand Budapest Hotel chronicles the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend.  There is an immigration angle, with Lobby Boy Zero a refugee and vulnerable to the Nazis becaus eof his uncertain immigration status.

For reviews, click here.


Grand budapest



March 31, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Remembering the Delano Manongs on Cesar Chavez Day

As Dean Kevin Johnson blogged earlier, today is Cesar Chavez day in California. It is wonderful that students in California (and other states) learn about the advocacy work that Cesar Chavez did to help create better working conditions for farm workers and other immigrant workers. 

To me, this day is also a call to remember the other unsung heroes of the farm labor movement.  There were other advocates who worked alongside Cesar Chavez.  Some of them were Filipino farmer workers known as "Delano Manongs." One of these manongs was Larry Itliong, who was a labor organizer who led a group of 1,500 Filipinos to strike, like Cesar Chavez and other Mexican American workers, against the grape growers of Delano, California. 

Although I have yet to see the new Cesar Chavez movie , my 5th grader saw it today with her classmates and she explained that the movie showed the collaboration between the Delano Manongs and Cesar Chavez and other farm workers.  A new documentary, "Delano Manongs," provides a more in-depth account of the advocacy work of these Filipino farm workers in improving the working and life conditions of immigrant workers.  

Moreover, through a bill (AB 123) that was sponsored by Assembly Member Rob Bonta and signed by Governor Jerry Brown in October 2013, students in California will learn about the contributions of Filipino farm workers to the California labor movement.

So on this Cesar Chavez Day, let us honor not only Cesar Chavez  but also Larry Itliong and the Mexican American and Filipino American workers (and others) who worked alongside to help improve the lives of farm workers in California and the United States. 



March 28, 2014 in Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 24, 2014


Kino Lorber presents the U.S. theatrical premiere WHO IS DAYANI CRISTAL?, the piercing new film about the human side of the U.S. immigration crisis by Gael García Bernal (Y Tu Mamá También, No) and Marc Silver. The film will open on April 25th in New York, followed by a release to select U.S. cities nationwide.

Winner of the Sundance 2013 World Cinema Cinematography Award and an official selection at the 51st New York Film Festival, WHO IS DAYANI CRISTAL? adds critical perspective to the intense immigration reform debate in the United States. In this piercing documentary that pushes the edges of the non-fiction form, acclaimed Mexican actor and activist Gael García Bernal tells the story of one of the many migrant workers who lost their lives in the stretch of Arizona desert known as “the corridor of death.” As Mr. Bernal retraces this man’s steps along the migrant trail in Central America, he and director Marc Silver show how one life can become a powerful testimony to the tragic results of the U.S. war on immigration.

With contributions from the dedicated forensic examiners of the Pima County Morgue in Arizona, the film seeks to answer questions surrounding the death of this yet-unidentified man. As the investigation unfolds, Mr. Bernal embeds himself among migrant travelers on their own mission to cross the border. He witnesses first-hand the dangers that these men, women and children face on their way to the United States, offering new insight into the sacrifices made in the search for a better life.

Gael García Bernal and director Marc Silver have created an unique experiential documentary that illuminates the urgent issue of immigration. The film brings viewers intimately close to the often-invisible lives that have been affected by a broken immigration policy.


March 24, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

From the Bookshelves: The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography


The Crusades of Cesar Chavez by Miriam Pawel

Cesar Chavez founded a labor union, launched a movement, and inspired a generation. He rose from migrant worker to national icon, becoming one of the great charismatic leaders of the 20th century. Two decades after his death, Chavez remains the most significant Latino leader in US history. Yet his life story has been told only in hagiography—until now.

In the first comprehensive biography of Chavez, Miriam Pawel offers a searching yet empathetic portrayal. Chavez emerges here as a visionary figure with tragic flaws; a brilliant strategist who sometimes stumbled; and a canny, streetwise organizer whose pragmatism was often at odds with his elusive, soaring dreams. He was an experimental thinker with eclectic passions—an avid, self-educated historian and a disciple of Gandhian non-violent protest.

Drawing on thousands of documents and scores of interviews, this superbly written life deepens our understanding of one of Chavez’s most salient qualities: his profound humanity. Pawel traces Chavez’s remarkable career as he conceived strategies that empowered the poor and vanquished California’s powerful agriculture industry, and his later shift from inspirational leadership to a cult of personality, with tragic consequences for the union he had built. The Crusades of Cesar Chavez reveals how this most unlikely American hero ignited one of the great social movements of our time.

Miriam Pawel is an award-winning reporter and editor who spent twenty-five years working for Newsday and the Los Angeles Times. 

This book review in the Los Angeles Times highlights the book's look at Chavez's treatment of undocumented immigrants:

"Pawel does not shy away from the more disturbing sides of Chavez and the UFW. Chavez railed against illegal immigration, encouraging deportations — even though in parts of California most farm workers were undocumented, and many were willing to organize and become part of the UFW.

Cesar's cousin, Manuel Chavez, working for Chavez and the UFW, hired thugs to beat up migrants at the border in Arizona and bribed local police to let the vigilantes do their work, a project, as Pawel notes, decidedly at odds with Cesar's `steadfast commitment to nonviolence.'"

The Crusades of Cesar Chavez is likely to contrast sharply with the soon-to-be-released film Cesar Chavez.


March 22, 2014 in Books, Current Affairs, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Borderland on Al Jazeera



A new documentary series hopes to change the way Americans think and talk about immigration reform. It’s called “Borderland” and it premiers nationwide on Al Jazeera America on Sunday, April 13th. Six Americans, from different walks of life and armed with strong viewpoints, are dropped into situations that transform the way they look at immigration reform. Before anyone makes up their mind on the immigration debate, they should watch this thought-provoking series.


March 20, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

At the Movies: The Tinaja Trail


The World Premiere of The Tinaja Trail, a documentary by Bryce Newell (a graduate of UC Davis School of Law) about the migrant deaths along the U.S./Mexico border, is slated for March 22 in Tampa, Florida as part of the Gasparilla International Film Festival.  The film also will be shown in April at the Arizona International Film Festival.  


March 18, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)