Tuesday, October 18, 2016
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:
Monday, August 29, 2016
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. 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.
Friday, July 22, 2016
Music Break: Juanes, Tom Morello, and Fher Olvera Black Magic Woman / Oye Como Va Santana Kennedy Center Honors
Sunday, July 10, 2016
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.
Saturday, July 2, 2016
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
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!"
Saturday, June 25, 2016
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
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 …
Tuesday, June 7, 2016
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: http://buff.ly/1VKsaNz
Sunday, June 5, 2016
As ImmigrationProf readers know, there is a campaign in the United Kingdom on a vote on its possible departure from the European Union. Will Britain exit (Brexit) the EU? A friend vacationing in London sent me message and picture that gives me hope "So far have only seen `remain' signs for Brexit!"
Click here for up to date news on the Brexit referendum campaign.
Friday, May 20, 2016
#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.
Sunday, April 17, 2016
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.
Thursday, April 7, 2016
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.
Friday, February 19, 2016
It's been far too long since "your playlist" has offered a lyrical suggestion to accompany your immigration class. Since it's a Friday afternoon that's begging for a strong beat, I give you Americano by Lady Gaga.
The song is about falling in love with a "girl in east L.A." Gaga belts:
Don't you try to catch me, don't you try to catch me
No, no, no, no I'm living on the edge of
Living on the edge of the law, law, law, law
Gaga herself describes the song as "a big mariachi techno-house record, where I am singing about immigration law and gay marriage and all sorts of things that have to do with disenfranchised communities in America."
It might just be the perfect pairing to Adams v. Howerton, for those still teaching that case.
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
The Grammys were Monday night and, as promised, the cast of Hamilton performed their opening number. Didn't catch it live? No worries, we've got the clip.
Hamilton ended up taking home the Grammy for Best Musical Theater album. No surprise there.
Other highlights of the night included a solid performance by Canadian singer The Weekend, a technically-challenged performance by English singer Adele (a mic fell into the piano ruining the sound), and a cross-the-pond duet featuring Brit star Ellie Goulding and American Andra Day.
Let's give it up for the Os and Ps making it all happen.
Sunday, February 14, 2016
Tomorrow. Monday. 8 Eastern (and delayed Pacific), 7 Central. CBS. The Grammys.
This is your chance to see the cast of the hit Broadway show Hamilton perform live. Do not throw away your shot.
Hamilton is one of the most influential musicals of our day. And it's all about immigration, tracing the life of Alexander Hamilton, Caribbean immigrant and founding father. Can't wait til Monday? An enterprising youtuber has compiled all of the clips of Hamilton that have appeared on TV to date.
Be sure to check out the anthem Yorktown, when Layfayette and Hamilton meet up with this fabulous line:
Thursday, January 7, 2016
I'm back in my hotel room after a night on the town with my mom seeing Allegiance. It's WONDERFUL. And there's still time to catch a show tomorrow or Saturday night.
Here's a clip to whet your appetite. It's called Paradise, and it's a satire about the benefits of living in the Heart Mountain internment camp and the gall of being asked to complete questionnaires designed to suss out the residents' true allegiances.
If you watch the clip, you'll hear them mention Tule Lake (around 1:20). It's where they sent detainees who were determined to be national security threats. Do read the Maurice Roberts piece on his work as a post-war Tule Lake adjudicator. It will really frame the musical for you.
Friday, December 25, 2015
Friday, December 18, 2015
David Noriega on Buzzfeed tells an unlikely love story that he calls "Love in a Time of Deportation." Here is the teaser: "He was an inmate, facing deportation over a minor arrest. She was a guard, fed up with her job at a for-profit prison. They fell in love, but living happily ever after was not going to happen." Click the link above to read more.
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Living in Oklahoma, I get a lot of exposure to country superstar Toby Keith. Every time I drive into OKC, I pass a large water tower dedicated to the singer by his hometown of Moore. (Though, according to People magazine, he actually lives in my neck of the woods these days.)
If you're not familiar with his music, you may have seen a Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill in Las Vegas or somewhere else around the nation. Perhaps you've enjoyed their signature meatloaf.
His music is also perfect for the generating classroom conversation. Take the opening stanza to "American Ride":
Winters getting colder, Summer gettin warmer
Tidal wave comin cross the Mexican border
I mean, wow. That's bold. For you Torts profs out there, a later stanza in the same song includes:
Plasma gettin bigger, Jesus gettin smaller.
Spill a cup of coffee, make a million dollars.
Now, Toby Keith does not shy away from controversial lyrics. His post-9/11 anthem "Courtesy of The Red, While, and Blue (The Angry American)" is an unabashedly pro-war with the memorable lyrics:
`Cause we`ll put a boot in your ass
It`s the American way
But it's Toby Keith's 2011 song "Made in America" that I think is really of interest to immprofs. It's an ode to a man, born and raised in the United States, who only buys American-made goods that he can fix himself.
The idea of being "made" in America is interesting, particularly in light of the dominant DREAMer narrative of children who've been raised in the United States and know nowhere else as home. Are they not "made" in America? And why should the randomness of birth geography as opposed to years of nurturing make a difference? Put differently, what about the difference between being randomly "made" American and choosing to be American?
All-in-all, a great musical accompaniment to your discussion of citizenship, naturalization, or issues surrounding undocumented migrants.