Friday, February 27, 2015

A View from Texas' Death Valley

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player 

Texas’ Death Valley   

Matthew Campanella, a graduate of Loyola Marymount University, says he wanted to help make a documentary about the conditions faced by immigrants in Texas because of what he learned about being “a man for others” as a member of a service organization.  He walked the migrant trail across the U>S./Mexico border in Texas, where people die daily.


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

Monday, February 23, 2015

At the Movies: Refuge: Caring for Survivors of Torture


Refuge: Caring for Survivors of Torture

Refugees, asylees and caregivers share their stories to help professionals and volunteers understand the needs of the more than a million survivors of torture rebuilding lives in the US.

It's estimated that more than a million refugees, asylum-seekers and other immigrants to the United States have been victims of politically motivated torture. They come here from all parts of the world -- some legally, some undocumented, some with families and some very much alone. They live in major American cities and in small towns. Some survivors bear visible scars, but many more have been wounded in ways that remain hidden.

Advocates for torture survivors, dedicated healthcare and social service professionals, and hundreds of citizen volunteers have united to create programs throughout the country that provide care and support to survivors who have come here to make new lives.

This documentary highlights five treatment and support programs in Minneapolis, Atlanta, the Boston Area, and Washington, DC. Based on interviews with dozens of survivors and with the professionals and volunteers who are helping them to heal, this film is a tribute to their courage and dedication, and a call to action.


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

Oscars Wrap Up: Immprof Edition


We've already covered Sean Penn's attempt at immigration humor, but there was much more to the Oscars this year.

Mexican-born director Alejandro González Iñárritu won three Oscars for his film Birdman: Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Picture for Birdman.

In accepting his award for Best Picture, Iñárritu said: "I want to dedicate this award for my fellow Mexicans, the ones who live in Mexico. I pray that we can build the government that we deserve. And the ones living in this country who are part of the latest generation of immigrants in this country, I just pray that they can be treated with the same dignity and respect of the ones who came before and built this incredible nation."

Interestingly, last year's winner for Best Director was also Mexican: Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity).

One of the highlights of the show was the performance of Glory, an original song composed for the movie Selma, by John Legend and Common, backed by a huge chorus. English-born David Oyelowo who played Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the movie was moved to tears by the performance. You will be, too.


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

Sean Penn Makes Immigration Status a "Joke" on the Academy Awards


For many Americans, watching the Academy Awards with family and friends is a pleasant way to spend a Sunday night.  This year, a joke by Hollywood bad boy Sean Penn in giving the "Best Picture" Award for Birdman ended the show on a controversial note.

As described by the Associated Press, "Sean Penn's remark about Mexican-born Oscar-winner Alejandro Inarritu's immigration status at the end of Sunday's Academy Awards telecast struck many as an insult, but the director says it was nothing more than a brutal joke between old friends. In announcing the win for `Birdman,' Penn asked, `Who gave this son of a bitch his green card? Birdman.' The term `green card' refers to a document that confers permanent residency to immigrants in the United States."

Inarritu directed Penn in his 2003 film "21 Grams," and the pair are friends. The director won three Oscars.

Was Penn's jibe a joke between friends or a racist insult?  Check out the judgments on Twitter here.


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

Friday, February 20, 2015

At the Movies: McFarland, USA



Inspired by the 1987 true story, “McFarland, USA” follows novice runners from McFarland, an economically-depressed town in California’s agricultural Central Valley, as they give their all to build a cross-country team under the direction of Coach Jim White (Kevin Costner), a newcomer to their predominantly Latino high school. Coach White and the McFarland students have a lot to learn about each other but when White starts to realize the boys’ exceptional running ability, things begin to change. Soon something beyond their physical gifts becomes apparent—the power of family relationships, their unwavering commitment to one another and their incredible work ethic. With grit and determination, the unlikely band of runners eventually overcomes the odds to forge not only a championship cross-country team but an enduring legacy as well. Along the way, Coach White realizes that his family finally found a place to call home and both he and his team achieve their own kind of American dream.

Thanks to film guru Michael Olivas for pointing out the New York Times review of McFarland, USA.


February 20, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

ABA Question of the Week: Have you met any lawyers like Saul Goodman?


The cable television series Better Call Saul premiered just a few weeks ago but it has lawyers talking about the "ethics" of Saul Goodman, a/k/a Jimmy McGill, the attorney who later hits it big in more ways than you can count in the cult classic Breaking BadImmigrationProf recounted advocacy lessons from Goodman for immigration lawyers.  Even the American Bar Association has joined in, with this ABA Journal's Question of the Week:  "Have you met any lawyers like Saul Goodman?"   You might be surprised by the responses.


February 20, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Movita Castaneda dies at 98; film actress was Marlon Brando's second wife


The Los Angeles Times reports that Movita Castaneda, a movie actress who married Marlon Brando in 1960 and had two children with him, has died in a Los Angeles. She was believed to be 98. Her death Thursday came after hospitalization for a neck injury. One of Castaneda's first films was "Mutiny on the Bounty", a 1935 classic with Clark Gable and Charles Laughton.

Born to Mexican parents on a train crossing the border into Nogales, Ariz., Maria Luisa Castaneda grew up in Los Angeles. Movita was a name coined for her by MGM executives who thought it sounded Polynesian.

Hat tip to Michael Olivas.



February 19, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 16, 2015

SNL at 40: Immigrant Tale (Justin Timberlake)

Sunday, February 15, 2015

ImmigrationProf Will Miss Jon Stewart on the Daily Show

Friday, February 13, 2015

Prediction: District Court to Rule TODAY on the Lawfulness of Obama's New Deferred Action Programn

As everyone knows, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of Brownsville, Texas, is expected to issue a ruling soon on an injunction requested by 26 states to prevent the Obama administration from going forward with recent executive actions on immigration as their lawsuit goes through the courts.

My prediction is that we receive a ruling today.  Why do I say that?  The new DAPA program is slated to go into effect on February 18 so we can expect a ruling before then.  And, if one wanted to maximize the talk of a ruling, it makes sense to issue a ruling on Friday before a long three day weekend. It would make for interesting talk on Sunday on Face the Nation, Meet the Press, and many other news shows.


February 13, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Lessons for Immigration Lawyers -- From Saul Goodman of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul

Better call saul

Robert Fojo, Principal at Fojo Dell'Orfano, P.L.L.C., and Co-founder and CEO of LSAT Freedom Follow, has a great article on 12 Things Every Lawyer Should Learn From Saul Goodman.  Goodman (a/k/a Jimmy McGill) was the lawyer for meth manufacturer Walter White in the amazingly popular television series Breaking Bad.  The prequel, Better Call Saul, premiered earlier this week to rave reviews. 

Here are lawyering lessons from Saul Goodman:  


1. Be a Zealous Advocate

SAUL GOODMAN:  “I fight for YOU, Albuquerque!”


 2.  Plan ahead

SAUL GOODMAN:  “Did you not plan for this contingency? I mean the Starship Enterprise had a self-destruct button. I’m just saying.”


3.  Provide comfort

SAUL GOODMAN:  “You’re now officially the cute one of the group. Paul, meet Ringo. Ringo, meet Paul.”


4.  Be creative

Skyler White: “Do you even know Walt? I mean, how would he of all people buy a laser tag business? It doesn’t add up.”

Saul Goodman: “It adds up perfectly. Walt’s a scientist. Scientists love lasers. Plus, they got bumper boats, so . . .”


5.  Provide value

SAUL GOODMAN:  “Don’t drink and drive. But if you do, call me.”


6.  Tell a compelling story

SAUL GOODMAN:  “If you’re committed enough, you can make any story work. I once told a woman I was Kevin Costner, and it worked because I believed it.”


7.   Get to know your client

SAUL GOODMAN [Talking to Skyler after Walt introduced his wife to Saul]:   “Hello. Welcome. What a pleasure it is to have you. Just gonna call you Skyler if that’s OK. It’s a lovely name. It reminds me of the big, beautiful sky. Walter always told me how lucky he was, prior to recent unfortunate events. Clearly his taste in women is the same as his taste in lawyers: only the very best with just the right amount of dirty.”


8.  Be candidly honest

SAUL GOODMAN:  “Look, let’s start with some tough love, alright? Ready for this? Here it goes: you two suck at peddling meth. Period.”


9.  Take on your client’s problems and solve them

SAUL GOODMAN:  “As to your dead guy, occupational hazard. Drug dealer getting shot? I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say it’s been known to happen.”


10.  Don’t be afraid to encourage your clients to do better

SAUL GOODMAN:  “Alright, $16,000 laundered at 75 cents on the dollar, minus my fee, which is 17%, comes out to $9,960. Congratulations. You’ve just left your family a second hand Subaru.”


11.  Incorporate flat fees into your business model

SAUL GOODMAN:  [To a client who has been arrested] “I’m gonna get you a second phone call, OK? You’re gonna call your mommy or your daddy or your parish priest or your boy scout leader, and they’re gonna deliver me a check for $4,650. I’m gonna write that down on the back of my business card. Four, Six, Five, Zero. OK? And I need that in a cashiers check or a money order, doesn’t matter. Actually, ah, I want it in a money order and, ah, make it out to ‘Ice Station Zebra Associates.’ That’s my loan out. It’s totally legit. It’s done just for tax purposes. After that, we can discuss Visa or Mastercard, but definitely not American Express, so don’t even ask, alright? Any questions?”


12.  Get out there and network

SAUL GOODMAN:  “Better call Saul!” 






February 11, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Paddington: The Unaccompanied Minor

Photo via Fandango

We've written about Paddington before, noting that he's a "model immigrant" who humanizes the migrant experience.

I took my boys to see Paddington this weekend, and I can report that Paddington is something more. He is a child. And he doesn't travel to London because he wants to. He travels to London because he has to. In short, Paddington is an unaccompanied minor.

SPOILER ALERT - the next two paragraphs contains plot points from the first part of the movie.

Paddington is an orphan. The uncle who cared for him is dead, and his last remaining relative, an aunt, is too old to care for him anymore.

But it's the parting words of his aunt, sending him onwards to London because she can't think of how else to provide for him, that really hit home the UMC angle of this movie:

Long ago, people in England sent their children by train with labels around their necks, so they could be taken care of by complete strangers in the country side where it was safe. They will not have forgotten how to treat strangers.

It's that last bit that really gets me: They will not have forgotten how to treat strangers. I think, unfortunately, we have.


February 10, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Grammys Lifetime Achievement Award to Flaco Jímenez


The Grammys have been covered here on ImmigrationProf. Kanye West made international  news with a much-publicized attack on Beck or publicity stunt, depending on how one looks at it.

One musician award winner should not get lost in the shuffle.  The Recording Academy also honored recipients of the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award, including Flaco Jiménez.  Jiménez is a Conjunto, Norteño and Tejano music accordionist from San Antonio, Texas.

Jiménez began performing, at the age of seven, with his father, Santiago Jiménez Sr, who was a pioneer of conjunto music and began recording at age fifteen as a member of Los Caporales. He played in the San Antonio area for several years, and then began working with Douglas Sahm in the 1960s. Sahm, better known as the founding member of the Sir Douglas Quintet, played with Jiménez for some time.

Flaco then went on to New York City and worked with Dr. John, David Lindley, Peter Rowan, Ry Cooder and Bob Dylan. He appeared on Cooder's world music album Chicken Skin Music and on the Rolling Stones' Voodoo Lounge. This led to greater awareness of his music outside America and, after touring Europe with Ry Cooder, he returned to tour in America with his own band, and on a joint bill with Peter Rowan.Jiménez, Peter Rowan and Wally Drogos were the original members of a band called The Free Mexican Airforce.

Jiménez won a Grammy Award in 1986 for Ay Te Dejo en San Antonio, one of his father's songs. He was also a member of the Tejano fusion group Texas Tornados, with Augie Meyers, Doug Sahm and Freddy Fender. The Texas Tornados won a Grammy Award in 1990, and Jiménez earned one on his own in 1996, when his self-titled album Flaco Jiménez won the Grammy Award for Best Mexican-American Performance. In 1999, Flaco earned another Grammy Award for Best Tejano Performance for Said and Done and one for Best Mexican-American Performance as a part of supergroup Los Super Seven.

Jiménez has also won a Best Video award at the Tejano Music Awards and earned a Lifetime Achievement Award from Billboard Latin Magazine for "Streets of Bakersfield" with Dwight Yoakam and Buck Owens.


February 10, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

On the Tube: Fresh Off the Boat


Last night was the premiere of Fresh Off the Boat, the ABC sitcom based on celebrity chef' Eddie Huang's memoir and the first network primetime show to feature an Asian-American family in 20 years.  The special double episode premiere on Wednesday received solid ratings.

Here was the synopsis of the premiere episode:

It’s 1995 and 11-year-old hip-hop loving Eddie Huang (Hudson Yang) has just moved with his family from Chinatown in Washington D.C. to suburban Orlando. They quickly discover things are very different there. Orlando doesn’t even have a Chinatown—unless you count the Huang house. Eddie’s dad, Louis (Randall Park), has dragged the family to the ‘burbs to pursue his version of the American dream, opening Cattleman’s Ranch Steakhouse, a struggling western-themed restaurant. Louis thinks that the best way to get customers in the door is to hire a white host to greet them and make them feel comfortable. Eddie’s mom, Jessica (Constance Wu), has agreed to the move, but she finds Orlando a strange place—from the rollerblading stay-at-home moms, to the hospital-like grocery stores, to the fact that the humidity has ruined her hair.

February 5, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 30, 2015

At the Movies: Please Don't Bury Me Alive! (1976)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Citizenship Exams in the Classroom

Could your students pass the citizenship exam? I quiz my Immigration Law students every year. I find that naturalized USCs and government majors tend to ace it. Others struggle. (Admit it, did you realize Publius was one of the writers of the U.S. Constitution? Check out question 67.)

The NYT reports that several states are now requiring high school students to pass the citizenship exam before they can graduate. Passing is defined as 60%, which is the score immigrants need for naturalization.

Arizona was the first state to pass such a law, which it did earlier this month. And other states are following suit:

North Dakota’s House of Representatives has passed a comparable bill, and its Senate approved it Tuesday; legislators in Indiana, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and seven other states have recently introduced similar initiatives.

For those high school students looking for a little extra motivation (or for profs looking for a nice video for class), check out late-night personality Craig Ferguson on his citizenship test.



January 29, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

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)