Monday, February 20, 2017

Your Playlist: Sarpinto

In 2011, Turkish musician Sarp Yeletaysi released "Schengen Macht Frei" under the pseudonym Sarpinto. It's an alternative rock ode to the visa hurdles facing Turkish citizens attempting European travel.

Give it a listen.

You can find the full lyrics to the song here. And PRI has an interview with Yeletaysi too. It's the perfect accompaniment to discussion of the admissions process.


February 20, 2017 in Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Your Playlist: Chicano Batman

Okay, it's sponsored by Johnnie Walker. But it's still a great rendition of a classic.


January 31, 2017 in Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 30, 2017

Your Playlist: Marvin Gaye

I will be starting class tomorrow with a Marvin Gaye classic - What's Going On.


January 30, 2017 in Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 30, 2016

Your Playlist: Hamilton Mixtape

Immigrants (We Get The Job Done) is a track on the new Hamilton Mixtape. It's inspired by a line in the Hamilton musical uttered by Daveed Diggs as the Marquis de Lafayette and Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton during the number Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down).

The Mixtape song features verses by K'naan, Snow Tha Product, Riz MC, and Residente. It is equal measures hopeful, desperate, and angry.

Check out these K'naan lines: "Man, I was brave, sailing on graves / Don’t think I didn’t notice those tombstones disguised as waves."

And these from Snow Tha Product: "It’s a hard line when you’re an import / Baby boy, it's hard times / When you ain't sent for."

Or these from Riz MC: "Who these fugees what did they do for me / But contribute new dreams / Taxes and tools, swagger and food to eat."

Click here for the full lyrics. It's good to read them while listening to the music.


December 30, 2016 in Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Today Only: Broadway Musical Allegiance on Screens Nationwide

Today, the Broadway musical Allegiance (about Japanese interment) will be aired in movie theaters around the country. Tickets are still on sale.

I'm sure your plans for the evening can be postponed. Take a night to enjoy Broadway.


Happy theatering!


December 13, 2016 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

US Presidential Election 2016

Trump Hillary_Clinton_official_Secretary_of_State_portrait_crop

It has been a "no holds barred" campaign for the US Presidency this year.  As blog readers well know, the two candidates have very different views on immigration.   Stay tuned for the results.


Last night, Bruce Springsteen came out to support Hillary Clinton at a get out the vote rally in Philadelphia the day before the election.  Following a "Thunder Road" that closed with a slight lyric change for the occasion — "Tonight we're pulling out of here to win" — Springsteen spoke to the audience made his case for Hillary Clinton:

Good evening! It's an honor to be here with President and Mrs. Obama, President Clinton and Chelsea, and if we all do our part tomorrow, President-elect Clinton.

The choice tomorrow couldn't be any clearer. Hillary's candidacy is based on intelligence, experience, preparation, and on an actual vision of an America where everyone counts: men and women, white and black, Hispanic and Native, where folks of all faiths and backgrounds can come together to address our problems in a reasonable and thoughtful way.

That vision of America is essential to sustain, no matter how difficult its realization.

Hillary sees an America where the issue of income distribution should be at the forefront of our national conversation, where the progress we've made in reducing our unemployment is not enough — we must do better. She has a vision of universal health care for all that will build on the work of President Obama. She sees an America that needs to be fairer, where our highest courts look to protect the rights of all of our citizens and not just the privileged. She sees an America where the issue of immigration reform is dealt with realistically and compassionately. And she calls for an America that participates in the welfare of our planet — both in world affairs and in global science — and where the unfinished business of protecting the rights of women is not an afterthought, but a priority.

That's the country where we wil indeed be stronger together.

Now, briefly, to address her opponent: this is a man whose vision is limited to little beyond himself, who has a profound lack of decency that would allow him to prioritize his own interests and ego before American democracy itself. Somebody who'd be willing to damage our long-cherished and admired system rather than look to himself for the reasons behind his own epic failure. That's unforgivable. Tomorrow that campaign is going down.

Let's all do our part so we can look back at 2016 and say we stood with Hillary Clinton on the right side of history. That's why I'm standing here with you tonight, for the dream of a better America.

Springsteen introduced "Long Walk Home" as "a prayer for post-election" and closed with "Dancing in the Dark," finally adding, "Let's get out there and vote tomorrow!"

Watch the full performance at


November 8, 2016 in Current Affairs, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 4, 2016

Your Playlist: Neil Diamond

It's Friday and nothing says welcome to the weekend quite like Neil Diamond's hit America. You're welcome.


November 4, 2016 in Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 31, 2016

"Be Aware Brother, Be Aware Sister" -- "Aware Migrants"


 “Be aware brother, be aware sister” is the song that Rokia Traoré has written specially for the Aware Migrants Project.


Malian singer Rokia Traoré has released a new  single – “Be Aware Brother, Be Aware Sister" - as part of the "Aware Migrantscampaign launched by International Organization for Migration and the Italian Ministry of Interior.

The campaign uses the voices of some of the tens of thousands of young West African migrants who leave home to try to find a better life in Libya and Europe to tell their stories and relate their experiences to family and friends left behind. Their testimony aims to inform others – through social media and other channels - about some of the risks and dangers that face them if they also decide to opt for irregular migration and set off across the Sahara.

"For many years, I’ve been meeting migrants who, at the end of my concerts, would tell me about tremendous suffering they faced during their journeys, and would ask me to warn their brothers and sisters back home about how hard and dangerous this type of experience was," says Rokia Traoré.

"There are not enough words, there are not enough notes, to tell the tragedies these people were forced to face. My song is only a small contribution, which should be combined with many other initiatives, to highlight how crucial it is to give a response to this humanitarian emergency. My contribution is a hymn to life."

In “Be Aware Brother, Be Aware Sister," Traoré combines English, French, Arabic and several African languages to warn young people to “Be Aware” before they make a decision that could change their life forever – or end it.

“Our research shows that many migrants still leave their country of origin without a specific destination in mind. Many suffer violence and abuse in Libya at the hands of smugglers and local militias. As a result, many decide to continue their journey to Europe with the smugglers. And many – an estimated 3,453 in 2016 – drown in the Mediterranean between Libya and Italy,” says IOM Rome spokesperson Flavio Di Giacomo.

Listen to “Be Aware Brother, Be Aware Sister” and learn more about the Aware Migrants campaign here.


October 31, 2016 in Current Affairs, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Bob Dylan and Immigration

Bob Dylan | via The Guardian

Days ago, Bob Dylan was awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature for "having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition."

When you think Dylan and immigration, it'd be understandable if your mind jumped right to his song "I Pity the Poor Immigrant." There is something interesting about the first lines of that song: "I pity the poor immigrant / Who wishes he would've stayed home." But the next lines suggest that Dylan isn't really thinking about immigrants in the immprof sense: "Who uses all his power to do evil / But in the end is always left so alone." (Although Trump might get behind that reading). I tend to agree with commentators who see the song as being about "if only" people who are never satisfied rather than migrants. 

The line that I think should resonate with immprofs comes from a different tune altogether: Absolutely Sweet Marie. Near the very end of that song, Dylan sings:

But to live outside the law, you must be honest

That line reminds me of a conversation I had with a federal prosecutor. He told me that it seems unbearably hard to be undocumented in the United States: Since undocumented individuals live outside the law, they can never afford to break any other law. They cannot jaywalk or speed or get into a fight. For any interaction with law enforcement has the potential to lead to discovery of a life outside the law.

It's a lyric that just might kickstart some great conversation about undocumented migrants.

Of course, I cannot talk about music without at least providing you a few links.

Here's the Joan Baez version of I Pity the Immigrant:

And here's Absolutely Sweet Marie:


October 18, 2016 in Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 29, 2016

RIP Juan Gabriel, Mexican Singing Great


330px-Juan_Gabriel_Hollywood_Star Juan_Gabriel_en_Iquique

Juan Gabriel was a Mexican singer and songwriter. Also called El Divo de Juárez, Gabriel was known for his flamboyant style and broke barriers within the Latin music market. With sales of more than 100 million albums, Gabriel was Mexico's top selling artist.[6] Gabriel's album, Recuerdos, Vol. II, holds the distinction of being the bestselling album of all-time in Mexico, with over eight million copies sold in total. During his career he wrote around 1,800 songs.

On August 28, 2016, Gabriel died in Santa Monica, California, while on tour.  Born in Mexico, Gabriel lived most recently in El Paso.


August 29, 2016 in Current Affairs, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 22, 2016

Music Break: Juanes, Tom Morello, and Fher Olvera Black Magic Woman / Oye Como Va Santana Kennedy Center Honors



July 22, 2016 in Current Affairs, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Immigrant of the Day: Luis Enrique, Singer (Nicaragua)


Luis Enriqueis a Nicaraguan-born singer and composer. He attended high School in Whittier, California, near Los Angeles. He started his career in the late 1980s and achieved success in the 1990s earning the title "El Príncipe de la Salsa" (The Prince of Salsa). Enrique was a pioneer in the salsa romántica movement of the 1980s. He received two Grammy Award-nomination for "Best Tropical Latin Performance" for album Luces del Alma and his song Amiga. In 2009, his album, Ciclos, was nominated for numerous Latin Grammy Awards. The album won the Grammy Award for Best Tropical Latin Album.

Enrique immigrated to the United States in 1978  He will be sharing his story as an undocumented immigrant in the United States in an upcoming book, Enrique will tell of his personal journey from Nicaragua to making a home in L.A. He was undocumented for about 10 years. 



July 10, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs, Film & Television, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Your Playlist: Sting

Today is just the day for an 80s throwback. I give you Sting's immigration hit - Englishman in New York.



July 2, 2016 in Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Los Illegals: Seminal Chicano Punk Band's Bassist Slams Non-Confrontational Artists and Activists


Colorlines reports on Los Illegals, which "picked its band name in part as a big middle finger to the xenophobic bias plaguing Chicanos in East Los Angeles. As the historic band's bassist Jesus Velo explained in a new interview, the group's name pissed off many Latinos—but not for the obvious reasons."  "So Los Illegals are [hybrid]–'Los' [in Spanish] and 'Illegals' in English, which the Mexicans gave us shit for," Velo told Remezcla. "'What's with this? You don't like saying it all in Spanish.' It was like, give us like a fucking break!"


June 29, 2016 in Current Affairs, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 25, 2016

An Immigration Anthem? Inesperado Adiós - words and music by Alice Bag


(Female lead)
We didn’t get to say goodbye
They didn’t give you time
You were flying 
like a leaf in the wind
You left home just 
like any other day
I didn’t suspect 
I had already lost you


But this unexpected goodbye
It is a punishment for two
The one who is gone 
and the one who stays behind
And I feel like screaming
I am already tired of enduring
This injustice is killing us


(Male lead)
Under a window with steel bars
I see the stars and tell them my desire
“To return home to the ones I love,
to live without borders like birds in flight”

but this unexpected goodbye …In this place we called home
we were always just shadows in the rubble
with blood and sweat 
we gave what we had

it was right behind our shoulders

I feel like the sun is refusing to shine
and my world is freezing

For this unexpected goodbye …

June 25, 2016 in Current Affairs, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Yusuf / Cat Stevens - He Was Alone #YouAreNotAlone -- A Benefit to Help Child Refugees

Cat stevens


Legendary singer/songwriter Yusuf/Cat Stevens has launched a campaign to help  child refugees in Europe with a charity gig on 14th June at London’s Central Hall, Westminster, and the release of a unique single, He Was Alone.

Watch He Was Alone


You can help our campaign by using the hashtag #youarenotalone on social media, buying a ticket for the concert or simply donating whatever possible towards the appeal at the following charities:

Buy Tickets:

Thanks to Professor Michael Olivas, who has a radio show The Law of Rock and Roll, for this Yusuf/Cat Stevens news.


June 7, 2016 in Current Affairs, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Should I Stay or Should I Go? UK to decide on Brexit or not

Friday, May 20, 2016

Live from the MSU Drum Circle

#immprof2016 wouldn't have been complete without singing. Hiroshi offered fabulous guitar accompaniment - as did Dan Kanstroom who subbed in for This Land Is Your Land. Shoba joined in on the piano and the rest of us lent what voices we had.


In two years, someone needs to be in charge of bringing egg shakers. You know that would take it up a level.


May 20, 2016 in Current Affairs, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Slick Rick Becomes U.S. Citizen


 Rolling Stone reports that Slick Rick, the English-born rapper behind hip-hop classics like "Mona Lisa" and "Children's Story," has been granted his U.S. citizenship after a 23-year legal battle. The influential rapper was sworn in as an American citizen Friday at a ceremony in New York.  The U.S. government had previously sought to deport Slick Rick.

In 1991, Slick Rick pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted murder and eight weapons charges stemming from an incident where the rapper shot his cousin Mark Plummer and a bystander. Sentenced to three-and-a-half to 10 years for the shooting, he was released from prison after six years and completed his parole in 2000. During that time, a judge canceled deportation proceedings against the rapper, granting him a waiver of admissibility. In 2008, then-New York Governor David Paterson officially pardoned Slick Rick, citing how he had become "a symbol of rehabilitation for many young people." "Given these demonstrated rehabilitative efforts, I urge federal immigration officials to once again grant Mr. Walters relief from deportation, so that he is not separated from his many family members who are United States citizens, including his two teenage children," Paterson said in his statement.

Slick Rick will maintain a dual citizenship with the United Kingdom. The rapper's U.S. citizenship will now allow for him to travel to and from the country in order to perform overseas. 


April 17, 2016 in Current Affairs, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 7, 2016

A Love Letter to My Clients and Hamilton by Elizabeth Keyes

UB Law immprof Elizabeth Keyes has penned the following:

Barack, Lin-Manuel, Juan. Seeds in the garden planted so long ago by another man who was young, scrappy and hungry and who then accomplished extraordinary things. The first two you know, and there they were free-styling at the White House last month. One, the child of a Kenyan immigrant and an American who became President. The other, the child of Puerto Rican parents who is, so far, a Tony, Grammy and Macarthur genius award winner. But who is Juan, and can’t we get back to Hamilton? (Please?)

Juan is my client. An undocumented immigrant. And Hamilton is his story. Yes, the musical tells a specific story, about a specific man in a different era. But it is a quintessential story of immigration, hunger, and accomplishment, and that story is Juan’s, too. Almost precisely, but for one important difference. I’ll get to that in a moment. (Wait for it.)

With Hamilton, we all fall in love with the characters and the performers and the music in equal measure. But as an immigration lawyer, I also very powerfully felt my heart soar with gratitude and recognition about something much more specific: Here was the story of an immigrant disdained as a “Creole bastard,” being told with unabashed glory and pride. The love and respect that the Hamilton cast show in their narrative is akin to the love and respect that I feel for Juan and so many of my clients who so seldom feel the love and respect from anyone.

From the first song, asking us to spot Hamilton, “another immigrant comin’ up from the bottom” to the show-stopping moment at the Battle of Yorktown where he and Lafayette reconnect and—with deserved pride—nod their heads and say “immigrants…we get the job done,” Hamilton is an immigrant story, featuring the ambitious young person with little more than a “top-notch brain,” who makes his way here and thrives in a land full of opportunity for anyone bold enough to seize it.

Hamilton’s story is helped by the laws of his day. When he arrived in the United States in 1772 or 1773, there was no immigration law that prevented him from coming. He was a British subject, who could travel freely among all parts of the world that Britain controlled—and much beyond it as well, if he wished. When he and Lafayette came, there was no such thing as being “undocumented” or immigrating illegally because there were no such laws to break and no visas to acquire. States had some rules about who could arrive, and sometimes charged fees on arriving passengers, but that was about it until the late 19th century, when we started excluding Asians, then poor people, then LGBT people, and so on and so on.

In his more open era, Hamilton could and did lay immediate claim to his country, shifting from loyal, royal subject to American as easily as he breathed. Ron Chernow, in the biography that inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda to ultimately create Hamilton, writes:

Few immigrants have renounced their past more unequivocally or adopted their new country more wholeheartedly. ‘I am neither merchant nor farmer,’ he now wrote, just a year and a half after leaving St. Croix. ‘I address you because I wish well to my country.’

“My” country. Hamilton claimed America as his, in 1774. As he could. As he was legally able to do.

By 1777, Hamilton became General George Washington’s chief aide-de-camp, and Chernow evokes the power of his transformation of identity:

Once again, the young immigrant had been transported to another sphere…The high-level service completed Hamilton’s rapid metamorphosis into a full-blooded American. The Continental Army was a national institution and helped make Hamilton the optimal person to articulate a vision of American nationalism, his vision sharpened by the immigrant’s special love for his new country.

How does someone metamorphose into a full-blooded American today? Not through valiant service, although for some, that remains a possibility—Margaret Stock, another Macarthur genius award recipient and a senatorial candidate from Alaska, made that connection to the Pentagon when she rapidly pushed through the idea that some immigrants with legal status could acquire citizenship rapidly in exchange for providing valuable military service to the nation. Hamilton’s heirs, certainly.

But for most, there is no metamorphosis available, and that is where Juan’s story differs from Hamilton’s. But what a story his is. Juan came to the U.S. from a place where he just could not get the education he wanted. He had finished high school, and came here in his late teens, intent on getting further. Literally the day after he arrived, he started loading and unloading trucks at a nearby hardware store, earning the precious dollars he needed to go to school. He hasn’t stopped working since, but he also managed to go to community college, and then transfer to a four-year university. No big deal, but he graduated from that university summa cum laude. While studying in a second language. While working full-time. Young, scrappy, hungry…you see it, right? (I’ve written about him before, so see here if you want to read more.)

Being a non-stop person himself, Juan applied to graduate school, and he now goes to a prestigious one on the scholarship he earned from being so danged studious. Like Hamilton, there are a million things he hasn’t done, but just you wait. I expect him to reinvent the world one day, and when he does, I will be so proud to have known him.

But unlike A.Ham claiming citizenship in his new country, Juan cannot. Paths to legal status in the United States are achingly narrow for all, and treacherously easy to fall off. Nowhere is this more true than for people of color living in communities that are over-policed, for immigrants with limited English skills who accept guilty pleas for crimes they may not have committed, without fully understanding the consequences of those pleas. I could go on. But let it suffice to say that there is a deep, sometimes painful, beauty in the immigrant story being told as passionately and evocatively as it is by the richly diverse case of Hamilton, when our enforcement policies today target so many people who look like that cast.

Juan, like many thousands of young people, is too busy studying to get into trouble—until the day he forgets to replace a headlight on their car, gets pulled over by the police in an immigrant-unfriendly town or county, run through an immigration database that may reveal his lack of status, and placed in removal proceedings. If that happens to Juan, I will be there with him, fighting for him. Most immigrants in removal proceedings are not fortunate enough to have a lawyer. They leave, and with their departures we lose people who could have contributed vibrantly to our nation.

Imagine America if Hamilton had been deported for lacking papers. We make all manner of things deportable offenses these days, and it doesn’t matter if everything is “legal in Jersey” if the federal government says, say, dueling is a deportable offense. We would have lost a man who, by the time of his engagement to Eliza Schuyler in 1780, even his future father-in-law recognized as American. Philip Schuyler told Eliza that Hamilton was “the ornament of his country.”

His country. America. A place where even an orphaned immigrant can make a difference. How do we treat these immigrants today? With contempt (sometimes literally). With jail. With life in the shadows. With hope after hope of political accommodation dashed by a Congress which responds to the worst voices of fear, and not the call of Hamilton’s own legacy.

Juan, too, is an ornament of his country, as are the DREAMers who are reinventing our idea of citizenship by claiming their American-ness so forcefully. In this, and in their project of redefining who America is, and who Americans are, they are Hamilton’s heirs. They are the seeds he planted in a garden 250 years ago when he walked off that boat in New York.

As depicted by the brilliant Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton kept searching for ways to do more for the country he loved, and to take advantage of every opportunity this country gave him. Thankfully, people like George Washington judged him for his talent, and not for his place of birth. Might we do the same for young, scrappy, and hungry Juan, and so many like him. If we could see them as Hamilton’s heirs, that would be enough. And if we could reform our laws to let them be the Americans in law that they already are in their hearts, that would be enough. It’s only a matter of time.

April 7, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs, Immigration Law Clinics, Law Review Articles & Essays, Music | Permalink | Comments (2)