Friday, October 31, 2014

Immigrant of the Day: Djimon Hounsou From Benin | Actor


Djimon Hounsou From Benin | Actor

After spending a year homeless in Paris, actor Djimon Hounsou was noticed by a stranger and fell into the world of fashion as a model. Starting in 1990, he played a few roles in television and film, but it was in 1997 that he came to international attention and was nominated for a Golden Globe for his role as Cinque in Spielberg’s Amistad, a film based the true story of a mutiny aboard a slave ship of prisoners from Mende. Since then, Hounsou has appeared in other major films and was nominated twice for an Oscar for his roles in In America and Blood Diamond.



October 31, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Democalypse 2014: MexTex

Monday, October 20, 2014

Today in Attack Ads: Dan Patrick of Texas

Dan Patrick is running for Liutenant Governor of Texas. And he wants you to know that "ISIS terrorists threaten to cross our border and kill Americans." The only thing standing in their way? "The Texas Rangers and National Guard." Which is why, if elected Lt. Governor, Patrick will make "border security" his "top priority."


Patrick's opponent is Leticia Van de Putte.


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

Immigrant of the Day: Mike Nichols From Germany | Film and Theater Director


Photo courtesy of IMDb

Mike Nichols From Germany | Film and Theater Director

Born in Berlin in 1931, the renowned film and theater director Mike 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.



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

RIP Elizabeth Pena (1959-2014)


We recently learned of the loss of Elizabeth Peña, a Cuban-American actress who appeared in such major studio pictures as “Rush Hour” and La Bamba, independent films including John Sayles’ generational drama “Lone Star,” and a host of television shows (most recently Modern Family), died Tuesday at 55 in Los Angeles.

As Pilar Cruz, a history teacher who rekindles a romance with a small-town Texas sheriff near the border with Mexico in “Lone Star” (1996), she won an Independent Spirit Award for best supporting actress. “The sultry Peña gives an especially vivid performance as the character who is most unsettled by the shadows of the past,” Janet Maslin wrote.



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

Saturday, October 18, 2014

TV Break -- Cristela: Law and the Mexican American Experience


A new television sitcom, Cristela, starring Cristela Alonzo, touches on immigration and the Mexican-American experience. 

Here is a plot summary.  In law school (SMU Dedman School of Law), Cristela, whose family immigrated from Mexico, is on the brink of landing her first big (unpaid) internship at a prestigious law firm. Her pursuit of success is more ambitious than her traditional Mexican-American family thinks is appropriate. She straddles the old culture she's trying to modernize at home with her working-class family and the modern world she's trying to embrace in her professional career. Breakout comedian Cristela Alonzo stars in this comedy about the path to the new American dream.





October 18, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Undocumented Chinese Migrants & The Restaurant Industry

This week's New Yorker has a fascinating new article entitled The Kitchen Network: America's underground Chinese restaurant workers. (Thanks owed once again to immprof Michael Olivas for pointing out this great piece.)

The article follows the life of "Rain." Rain's journey to the United States started in a rural Chinese village and took him through Fuzhou, Beijing, France, and Mexico, across the Rio Grande, and into the United States.

Rain's work in the United States, currently as a chef for Chinese restaurants, has taken him to locations up and down the East Coast. He has gone from restaurant to restaurant - working to pay off the snakehead who got him to the United States, paying off the lawyer (since arrested) who processed his asylum application, and sending money back to his mother in China.

If you find the New Yorker article interesting, allow me to recommend the movie Take Out. As the fimmakers describe it:

Take Out is a day-in-the-life of Ming Ding (Charles Jang), an illegal Chinese immigrant working as a deliveryman for a Chinese take-out shop in New York City. Ming is behind with payments on his huge debt to the smugglers who brought him to the United States. The collectors have given him until the end of the day to deliver the money that is due. After borrowing most of the money from friends and relatives, Ming realizes that the remainder must come from the day's delivery tips. In order to do so, he must make more than double his average daily income.

In a social-realist style, the camera follows Ming on his deliveries throughout the upper Manhattan neighborhood where social and economic extremes exist side by side. Intercutting between Ming's deliveries and the daily routine of the restaurant, Take Out presents a harshly real look at the daily lives of illegal Chinese immigrants in New York City.



October 8, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (1)

Immigrant of the Day: Alan Cumming (United Kingdom)



Born in Scotland, Alan Cumming is an actor who has appeared in numerous films, television shows and plays. His London stage appearances include Hamlet, the Maniac in Accidental Death of an Anarchist (for which he received an Olivier Award), the lead in Bent, and the National Theatre of Scotland's The Bacchae. On Broadway, he has appeared in The Threepenny Opera, the master of ceremonies in Cabaret (for which he won a Tony Award), and Design for Living. His best-known film roles include his performances in Goldeneye, Spy Kids, and X2. Cumming also introduces Masterpiece Mystery! for PBS.

Cumming currently plays Eli Gold on the CBS television show The Good Wife. For that role, he has been nominated for two Primetime Emmy Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and Satellite Award for his performance.

Cuming recently published a book Not My Father's Son, a memoir about his complicated relationship with his father and the family secrets that deeply affected him.


While retaining his British citizenship, Cumming became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2008.

Michael Schulman of the New York Times has a nice profile of Cumming last week.

Hat tip to Kit Johnson for the suggestion of Alan Cumming as Immigrant of the Day.


October 8, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Immigrant of the Day: Rachel Weisz (United Kingdom)


Rachel Weisz is an actress. Weisz began her acting career at Trinity Hall, Cambridge in the early 1990s, then started working in television. She made her film debut in the film Death Machine (1994), but her breakthrough role came in the film Chain Reaction (1996), leading to a high-profile role in the films The Mummy (1999) and The Mummy Returns (2001). Other notable films featuring Weisz are Enemy at the Gates, About a Boy, Constantine and The Fountain. For her supporting role in The Constant Gardener, she received an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors' Guild award. Weisz recently played Evanora in Oz the Great and Powerful. Weisz also works in theatre. Her stage breakthrough was the 1994 revival of Noël Coward's play Design for Living, which earned her the London Critics Circle Award for the most promising newcomer. Weisz's performances also include the 1999 Donmar Warehouse production of Tennessee Williams' Suddenly, Last Summer, and their 2009 revival of A Streetcar Named Desire. Her portrayal of Blanche DuBois in the latter play earned her the Critics' Circle Theatre Award for Best Actress.

Weisz is a naturalized U.S. citizen.



October 7, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Immigrant of the Day: Mischa Barton (United Kingdom)


Actress and model Mischa Barton played poor-little-rich-girl Marissa Cooper in the popular television series The O.C., from 2003 to 2006. Barton was born in the United Kingdom, moved to New York as a child and began acting and modeling before she was in her teens. In the late '90s she began getting TV and movie roles, including a small role (as the poisoned girl) in M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense (1999, starring Bruce Willis). She had the lead role in the adolescent love story Lost and Delirious (2001) and appeared in several episodes of TV's Once and Again, but it was The O.C. that made her a star. While she worked on the series, Barton also worked as a model for clothing and cosmetics companies.

Barton's character, Marissa, was killed in a car accident at the end of the third season -- a plot point the actress inadvertently revealed prior to the episode's airing. Since leaving the series, she has focused on modeling and a career in films, with the occasional arrest for driving while intoxicated. Her other work includes the films Homecoming (2009) and You and I (2011), and a recurring guest spot on the Ashton Kutcher TV production, The Beautiful Life: TBL (2009).

Barton is a dual U.S. and British citizen.


October 6, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Immigrant of the Day: Craig Ferguson From Scotland | Television Host


Photo courtesy of IMDb

Craig Ferguson From Scotland | Television Host

Actor Craig Ferguson is the host of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. After finding some success in television London, he immigrated to the U.S. in 1994 and soon landed his American breakout role as the title character’s obnoxious boss in The Drew Carey Show. Ferguson has also written and starred in three films and written two books, the novel Between the Bridge and the River and the memoir American on Purpose. The later book details various experiences over several decades in Ferguson's life from his days in Scotland through his migration to the United States; the rise of his performing career in the United Kingdom, then Hollywood, and eventual acquisition of US citizenship in early 2008.  In 2010, he won a Peabody Award for the Late Late Show. 



October 5, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Women allege sexual abuse at Texas immigrant detention center

CNN reports that women detained at an immigration detention facility in Texas allege that employees there have sexually abused them, including by removing them from their cells at night for sex as well as fondling them in front of others, lawyers wrote in a letter to federal officials this week.

The allegations were detailed in a letter from several immigrant advocacy groups to officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security, which had hired one of America's for-private prison operators to run the facility. Zoe Carpenter in the Nation has an insightful story on the private detention companies and how they benefit for increases in immigrant detention.

"We call for an immediate investigation into these serious allegations of sexual abuse and the immediate protection of all women and children forced to reside in the facility," the letter, sent by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) on behalf of all the advocacy groups, reads.  ImmigrationProf reported on this letter earlier this week.

In a September 25 letter, the immigration clinic at the University of Texas School of Law asked federal immigration officials to investigate numerous complaints from detainees, including that children didn't have access to a variety of nutritious snacks between meals, that messages from attorneys weren't getting to their clients in a timely manner, and that -- although they had access to a nurse -- no doctor was on staff to handle significant medical issues such as respiratory infections and chronic illnesses.


October 5, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Immigration Law Clinics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 3, 2014

At the Movies: The Good Lie (Opens Today)


They were known simply as “The Lost Boys.” Orphaned by the brutal Civil war in Sudan that began in 1983, these young victims traveled as many as a thousand miles on foot in search of safety. Fifteen years later, a humanitarian effort would bring 3600 lost boys and girls to America.

In “The Good Lie,” Philippe Falardeau, (writer and director of the Oscar®- nominated Foreign Language film “Monsieur Lazhar”) brings the story of their survival and triumph to life. Academy Award® winner Reese Witherspoon (“Walk the Line”) stars alongside Sudanese actors Arnold Oceng, Ger Duany, Emmanuel Jal, and newcomer Nyakuoth Weil, many of whom were also children of war.

Click here for a review of The Good Lie by Emily Arnold-Fernandez of Asylum Access.


October 3, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Real Housewives of New Jersey Sentenced to Prison, Joe Guidice may be Deported


The married stars of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” face prison time. Teresa Giudice was sentenced yesterday in federal court to 15 months in prison on conspiracy and bankruptcy charges while her husband, Giuseppe “Joe” Giudice, was sentenced to 41 months. Having come to fame with a hit television show, the couple was ordered to pay $414,000 in restitution.   The court agreed to stagger the Giudices’ sentences so one parent can be home with their four children while the other is in prison. Teresa Giudice will serve her sentence first because, as has been reported, Joe Giudice is not a U.S. citizen -- he is an immigrant from Italy -- and faces possible deportation to Italy when he’s released from prison.

Last March, Joe's lawyer told Us Weekly that deportation is a possible punishment for Joe. "Joe could be deported," says Joe's attorney. "I think it would be a tremendous injustice, given that he's been here since he was one year old. His parents and brothers have been naturalized, and Teresa and the children are citizens. Joe not getting U.S. citizenship, just slipped through the cracks." So why isn't Joe a U.S. citizen? "He could have gotten it easily," says his lawyer. "He thought he was a citizen, as did everyone else. The fact that he wasn't, was brought up in the state case. He didn’t know up until then."


October 3, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

America's Brain Gain


The Vilcek Foundation Fall 2014 newsletter spotlights "America’s Brain Gain: Immigrants at the Frontier of Neuroscience."

The Vilcek Foundation aims to raise public awareness of the contributions of immigrants to the sciences, arts, and culture in the United States. The Foundation was established in 2000 by Jan and Marica Vilcek, immigrants from the former Czechoslovakia. The mission of the Foundation was inspired by the couple’s respective careers in biomedical science and art history, as well as their personal experiences and appreciation for the opportunities offered them as newcomers to the United States. The Foundation achieves its mission through hosting immigrant artists and performers at their gallery space in New York City, awarding the annual Vilcek Prizes in the biomedical sciences and the arts and humanities, and sponsoring programs such as the Hawaii International Film Festival.


October 3, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Immigrant of the Day: Bai Ling From China | Actor


Photo Courtesy of IMDb

Bai Ling From China | Actor

Born in Chengdu, China, actor Bai Ling was a major star in her country by the time she left for the U.S. Learning English while she attended film school at New York University, she soon won the lead in Terence Malik’s play Sansho the Bailiff. Not long after, she landed her breakout role in the 1997 film Red Corner, which won her a National Board of Review award for a Breakthrough Performance. Later, she garnered acclaim for her role in Anna and the King.



October 2, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

How a Reluctance to Deport Pop Stars Strengthens US Immigration Policy


After calls to deport Justin Bieber, Professor Lenni Benson discusses the leniency often afforded to foreign celebrities and how that can create a problematic double standard within immigration policy.

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

At the Movies: San Francisco Immigrant Film Festival 2014


Check out the SF Immigrant Film Festival 2014.  Sit back and enjoy 3 Short Movie Marathons:

Saturday, Oct.4 at La Peña Cultural Center - Berkeley

Sun. Oct. 5 at Mission Cultural Center, MCCLA-San Francisco

Thursday, Oct. 9 at City College of San Francisco, Mission Campus


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

Friday, September 5, 2014

Former ImmigrationProf Blogger Visiting at Harvard Law


Congratulations to ImmigrationProf blogger emeritus Jennifer Chacón, who is visiting at Harvard Law School for the  2014-15 academic year.   She is teaching Criminal Law this fall and Criminal Investigations/Police Practices: Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments and Immigration Law, in the spring.   Chacón is Professor of Law at the University of California, Irvine School of Law.

I must say that it is hard to see Professor Chacón teaching Criminal Law in a manner akin to the legendary Professor Kingsfield of the Paper Chase fame:

"Mister Hart, here is a dime. Call your mother. Tell her there is serious doubt about your becoming a lawyer." 


Still, she should know that the favorite place in Harvard Square for HLS students to eat an inexpensive (and filling) meal, with refreshments (of course), is Charlie's Kitchen.  Informed law students (and professors) know to stay away from the signature drinks (and popcorn) at the Hong Kong on Mass Ave.

  Paper chase


September 5, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Comedy Break: Family Guy Season 6 Episode 6 Padre de Familia



Courtesy of

Family Guy Season 6 Episode 6 Padre de Familia

Peter starts an anti-immigration group; however, he quickly changes his mind when he finds out that he was born in Mexico. Unable to prove his citizenship, pass the naturalization test or convince investigators that his marriage to Lois is for real, he ends up working for Carter as a landscaper, all the while fighting for immigration rights.

Watch here.



August 27, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)