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)

Monday, July 31, 2017

At the Movies: Dolores (2017), a documentary about Dolores Huerta (UFW)


A documentary film, Dolores, will be in theaters in September 2017.  Dolores Huerta is among the most important, yet least known, activists in American history. An equal partner in co-founding the first farm workers unions with Cesar Chavez, her enormous contributions have gone largely unrecognized. Dolores tirelessly led the fight for racial and labor justice alongside Chavez, becoming one of the most defiant feminists of the twentieth century—and she continues the fight to this day, at 87. With intimate and unprecedented access to this intensely private mother to eleven, the film reveals the raw, personal stakes involved in committing one’s life to social change. Directed by Peter Bratt.  

Dolores+Final+Poster Huerta



July 31, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, July 28, 2017

At the Movies: Indivisible, A Film Chronicling Three Undocumented Immigrants’ Fight for Citizenship and the Chance to Reunite with Family


 UnidosUS and Fuse have teamed up for the world premiere of award-winning documentary Indivisible on Saturday July 29 at 10 p.m. ET. Directed by immigration reform advocate Hilary Linder, Indivisible chronicles the lives of three undocumented immigrants as they fight for a pathway to citizenship and a chance to be reunited with their loved ones who have been deported.

As part of the partnership, UnidosUS will serve as a resource for Fuse’s multiplatform audience by providing additional background on the issues highlighted in the documentary. Information provided by UnidosUS will appear during the broadcast and the organization will support tune-in through a variety of strategic social media account activations.

Indivisible tackles the crucial issues of deportation and citizenship, as well as the emotional struggle of families affected by the challenges facing undocumented immigrants living in America. Renata, Evelyn, and Antonio were young children when their parents brought them to the U.S. in search of a better life. They were teenagers when their mothers, fathers, and siblings were deported.  

The documentary is produced and directed by filmmaker Hilary Linder from her production company, Kudzu Films. The fourth release from the ‘We The Dreamers’ series of documentaries, Indivisible was edited by Laura Franco-Velasco. Exclusive multiplatform content, including exclusive interviews and extended scenes, will be available at


July 28, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 27, 2017

At the Movies: Sicario


Okay. I'll admit that headline is a little misleading. Sicario isn't so much "at the movies" as "included with your Prime membership." Still, it's a movie of definite interest to immprofs.

Here's how IMDB summarizes the film: "An idealistic FBI agent is enlisted by a government task force to aid in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico." That's fair. It's a border movie with a strong law enforcement bent.

The film offers beautiful cinematography of the Southern border - unique shots that I haven't seen in other films. It also includes scenes of ports of entry that are unusually authentic. There's even a small nod to mass deportations - with a scene involving busloads of deportees.

The movie is rated R and earns that rating in violence. It's a fast-paced and thoroughly engaging watch.


July 27, 2017 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Immigrant of the Day: Ballerina Michaela DePrince, Sierra Leone


Photo courtesy the official Michaela DePrince website

Born in Sierra Leone, ballet dancer Michaela DePrince was orphaned at the age of three. Born Mabinty Bangura to a Muslim family, she was sent to an orphanage where the "aunties" who cared for the children believed that her skin condition, vitiligo, was a curse and called her the "devil’s child."  In 1999, DePrince was adopted by a U.S. couple. Inspired by a picture of a ballerina she saw on a magazine in Sierra Leone, DePrince trained as a ballet dancer, winning a scholarship for the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at the American Ballet Theatre. In 2013, she joined the Dutch National Ballet.

DePrince tells her story in the book Taking Flight:  From War Orphan to Star Ballerina.





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

Sunday, July 16, 2017

At the Movies: The Big Sick


A Pakistani-American comic falls in love with an American graduate student, but because of cultural pressures from his family, he is forced to keep the relationship a secret. It is only when she becomes mysteriously ill and is put into a medically induced coma that he decides to tell his family about the woman he loves.

That is the plot of the new film The Big Sick, but it is also the story of how the film's co-writers, Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, met and fell in love in real life.  Terry Gross on NPR's Fresh Air interviewed the co-writers and talked about their real life story.


Married co-writers Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani based the romantic comedy The Big Sick on their own love story. Angela Weiss/Getty Images 



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

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Ministering to Immigrants & Refugees

Sister Pat Murphy and Sister JoAnn Persch are passionate advocates for immigrant and refugee rights. DePaul University has created three short films about the sisters' decades of work ministering to those communities. Here's the first:


July 15, 2017 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 8, 2017

At the Movies: Beatriz at Dinner (2017)

It is blazing hot in the Central Valley in California (100 degrees-plus yesterday and today) and a cool theater sounds like the right move.  Here is one new release -- a comedy at that with an immigration subtext -- that may be worth watching.


Beatriz at Dinner (2017)  Beatriz (Salma Hayek), an immigrant from a poor town in Mexico, has drawn on her innate kindness to build a career as a health practitioner in Southern California. Don Strutt (John Lithgow)  is a real estate developer whose cutthroat tactics have made him a self-made, self-satisfied billionaire. When these two polar opposites meet at a dinner party, their worlds collide and neither will ever be the same.


I saw this movie over the weekend and can attest that it is thought provoking and unsettling at the same time.  Watch the ending carefully!



July 8, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)