Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Your Playlist: Toby Keith

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.



October 27, 2015 in Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 9, 2015

Los Lobos Nominated for Rock Hall of Fame


Los Lobos, the Mexican-American band from East Los Angeles, has been nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of FameOne observer refers to Los Lobos as "immigrant voices in America."

Here is a link to five videos that the Los Angeles Times claims demonstrates that Los Lobos deserves the Hall of Fame nomination.

Los Lobos ("The Wolves") have won multiple Grammy Awards. Their music is influenced by rock and roll, Tex-Mex, country, folk, R&B, blues, soul, and traditional music such as cumbia, boleros and norteños. They gained international stardom in 1987 when their cover version of Ritchie Valens' "La Bamba" topped the charts.

I am looking forward to seeing Los Lobos tonight at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts in Davis.


October 9, 2015 in Current Affairs, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Your Playlist: Emilio Estefan

Emilio Estefan has assembled quite the star-studded cast for his new video "We're all Mexican." Watch and look for Pitbull, Thalia, Carlos Santana, Rita Moreno, Luis Coronel, Carlos Vives, Banda El Recodo, Eva Longoria, and Perez Hilton, among others. 


Estefan, who is Cuban, produced the song to celebrate Latino accomplishments and respond to  anti-Hispanic sentiment. He told Billboard: "There’s a message being sent out to the world where people are giving opinions that are plain wrong ... We need to lift up our pride and show the world what we’re doing."


September 21, 2015 in Current Affairs, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Lessons from 1994

This morning, NPR's Ina Jaffee takes us back to 1994 and Governor Pete Wilson's anti-immigration attack ad.


Jaffee connects the Wilson campaign, and the anti-immigrant Prop 187 of the same year, to the steady decline in Republican registrations within the state of California. Political scientist David Damore, of Latino Decisions, makes the connection explicit:

"The moment when the Latino population is about ready to explode in California and have an impact on politics, the Republicans were pushing a very, very hostile agenda," said Damore. "The end result is, it's no longer a competitive state."

The question is, what does the "California example" mean for the national Republican party?

Following the lead of presidential hopeful Donald Trump, immigration, and, specifically, unauthorized migration, is taking center stage. And it's meeting a hard line set by Republican hopefuls. In response, Latino attitudes toward Republican nominees are "shifting," and not in the party's favor.

All this talk of 1994 calls for a little Jason Aldean to round out your afternoon.



September 15, 2015 in Current Affairs, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)



Photo courtesy of Hispanic Heritage Month.gov

During National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15), we recognize the contributions made and the important presence of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States and celebrate their heritage and culture.

Hispanics have had a profound and positive influence on our country through their strong commitment to family, faith, hard work, and service. They have enhanced and shaped our national character with centuries-old traditions that reflect the multiethnic and multicultural customs of their community.

Hispanic Heritage Month, whose roots go back to 1968, begins each year on September 15, the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile and Belize also celebrate their independence days during this period and Columbus Day (Día de la Raza) is October 12.

President Obama issued this proclamation yesterday on Hispanic Heritage Month.



September 15, 2015 in Books, Current Affairs, Film & Television, Music, Religion, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 14, 2015

Azealia Banks Agrees With Donald Trump On Immigration?


It seems that everyone, including Inqusitr, watch the social media posts of celebrities.  Rapper Azealia Banks took to Instagram to express apparent support for the hard-line anti-illegal immigration policy advanced by Donald Trump, the current GOP front-runner for the 2016 presidential nomination.

Banks posted the following Instagram message.

“Do you think it’s bad that I sort of agree with Trump’s stance on immigration? Not for any reason other than black Americans still not having been paid reparations for slavery and the influx [of] INTERNATIONAL immigrants (not just Mexicans), are sucking up state aid, and government money, space in schools, quality of life etc.?? It’s selfish, but America has been really good at convincing me that everyone else’s problems are more important than my own. I want my f*****g money!!…Me first!!!…Thoughts?"


September 14, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 11, 2015

Your Playlist: Manu Chao

Clandestino by Manu Chao would be a great entree into discussion of undocumented migrants.


He sings:

Correr es mi destino
Por no llevar papel


September 11, 2015 in Music, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Hurricane Katrina Ten Years After: Latino Immigrant Workers Helped Rebuild New Orleans


Satellite image of Hurricane Katrina on August 28, 2005



The SuperDome housed local citizens who fled the flooding

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast and literally destroyed large parts of the Southeast, including New Orleans.  The ten year anniversary of this natural disaster has received considerable attention.

The government's response to Hurricane Katrina, including the response of President George W. Bush and the federal government, was harshly criticized.  Criticism focused on mismanagement and lack of leadership in the relief efforts in response to the storm and its aftermath. More specifically, the criticism focused on the delayed response to the flooding of New Orleans, and the subsequent state of chaos in the city.

Hurricane Katrina also had immigration consequences, many of which were addressed in my lecture at the Houston University Law Center in 2007.  The lecture was published in the Houston Law Review.   (Raquel Aldana and Anna Shavers offered commentary on the lecture.).  Here is an abstract of my lecture:

In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina crippled the Gulf Coast. National and international television networks televised the widespread destruction virtually non-stop for days. Many observers identified failures by all levels of government, beginning with the failure to take adequate steps to prevent the flooding to the painfully slow reconstruction of the gulf region.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, race soon emerged at the center of a heated – and often over-heated – controversy. African Americans comprised a substantial number of the flood victims seen on television screens around the world. As the federal government slowly responded and nothing less than anarchy reigned on the streets of New Orleans, critics forcefully contended that the race of many of the victims contributed to the slowness and ineptitude of the response. Rap star Kanye West put it most bluntly: George Bush doesn't care about black people, a position with which nearly three-quarters of African Americans polled in September 2005 agreed. Evidently feeling it necessary to squarely address the charge, President Bush vigorously denied that the race of the victims in any way influenced the federal government's emergency response to the devastation wrought by the hurricane.

Another group – an often invisible group – suffered in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Immigrants, including many from Latin America, were the silent victims of the deadly hurricane. Thousands of immigrants were displaced by Hurricane Katrina. However, most reports, while critical of the governmental response to the hurricane, failed to even mention, much less criticize, the widespread indifference to the plight of the many noncitizens displaced by the mass disaster.

The general public did not look sympathetically upon immigrants. Government's failure to provide relief failed to generate much of a public response, much less trigger any general expression of outrage. The denial of disaster relief to noncitizens, as well as aggressive enforcement of the immigration laws in the wake of the hurricane, was consistent with the times, which were filled with calls for increased immigration enforcement and the popular perception that immigrants – especially undocumented ones – constituted a serious social problem that must be addressed.

As the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast began, immigrant workers responded. Workers were in short supply; as efforts to return to some semblance of normalcy began, many businesses were hard-pressed to field a workforce. Rather than applaud the assistance of noncitizens in the resettlement and rebuilding efforts, politicians and the public expressed fear and apprehension about the possibility that new immigrants transform the racial identity of New Orleans as well as hurt the job prospects of U.S. – especially African American – citizens. Unlike others willing to help, immigrants were criticized and feared, not welcomed and lauded.

Indeed, local citizens and public officials demanded action to halt immigrants from taking American jobs and changing the racial identity of a major southern city. The African American mayor of New Orleans expressed fear about the city being overrun by Mexican workers. He later stated that it was nothing less than God's will for New Orleans to be a chocolate – not a Mexican – city, presumably expressing the hope that it would be reconstructed as the African American enclave that it had been. In the public discussion of the impact of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans, race was considered central to the city's past and future identity.

Although a fascinating story in and of itself, the plight of immigrants in the Hurricane Katrina disaster teaches deeper lessons about society's views of immigration and immigrants in the modern United States. First, despite their many contributions to U.S. society, immigrants generally, as a historical matter, have been deemed unworthy of public benefits whatever their personal circumstances. Welfare assumes an even worse name for immigrants than it does for citizens. The failure of government to provide relief to immigrants after Hurricane Katrina thus fits comfortably into a deep and enduring American tradition.

Second, immigrants – especially undocumented ones – who seek gainful employment in the United States often are characterized as economic parasites who take jobs from U.S. citizens. Throughout its history, this nation at various times has narrowed the immigration laws, ratcheted up border enforcement, and engaged in mass deportation campaigns, based on the unproven claim that immigrants from displacing American workers, which is a special concern in poor economic times. Time and time again, commentators and activists have contended that immigrant labor adversely affects African Americans in the job market.

Public opinion in the United States poses a most unfair Catch 22 to undocumented immigrants, who are characterized as both abusers of public benefit programs and as job takers who hurt U.S. citizens. Put simply, they either do not work and consume welfare or work and steal jobs. Much of this, of course, is old news to the most casual student of this nation's immigration history. However, even though a plethora of scholarship exists on the problems that riddle the immigration bureaucracy, there has been precious little analysis of the theoretical underpinnings of the regulation of immigration by administrative agencies. This is surprising given the great power, including the authority to remove noncitizens from the country, which such agencies possess over the lives and destinies of immigrants. Rather, immigration law, although administered and enforced through a complex and powerful administrative bureaucracy, is considered to be a specialty area outside the mainstream of administrative law.

A problem that has arisen in the U.S. government's response to immigrants in the Hurricane Katrina disaster is symptomatic of a more general failure of American democracy – the lack of political accountability of the immigration bureaucracy to all persons affected by its actions. This Article critically considers the reasons for the lack of responsiveness of that bureaucracy to the needs of immigrant communities and analyzes a glaring political process defect. By so doing, I hope to encourage a sustained examination of the issue, which deeply afflicts the administration and enforcement of the U.S. immigration laws, a complex regulatory body of law filled with vast delegations of discretion to the bureaucracy.

Most generally, the frequent failure of the agencies that administer the immigration laws to fully consider the impacts of laws and regulations on noncitizens suggests a fundamental flaw in the conventional rationale for deference to administrative agencies. The Supreme Court, in perhaps the leading administrative law decision of the post-World War II period, Chevron USA v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., has emphasized that reviewing courts ordinarily should defer to the interpretations of statutes by administrative agencies because the Executive Branch, through election of the President, is politically accountable to the voters and that decisions properly delegated to agencies are necessarily political ones. The administration of the immigration laws thus poses a fundamental problem for the democratic rationale for deference: if we entrust agencies with making and enforcing the laws because of their political accountability, what should we do if a specific agency is only accountable to part of the people affected, directly or indirectly, by its decisions?

Both lawful and undocumented immigrants, barred from having any formal political input – namely, the vote – into the administrative state, are frequently injured by decisions of the bureaucracy. Citizens, whose interests often diverge from those of noncitizens, are indirectly affected by the decisions of the immigration bureaucracy but, whatever its limitations, have a full voice in the national political system through election of the President. Some citizens, of course, have family members and friends affected by immigration law and its enforcement and may advocate politically for pro-immigrant laws and policies. Still, immigrants lack the political capital of the ordinary citizen constituency of an administrative agency.

The lack of balance in political input between the affected communities can be expected to result in agency rulings and decisions on immigration matters that fail to fully consider the interests of immigrants. This fact helps explain why, especially in times of social stress, the rights of immigrants have been marginalized by the immigration agencies, as well as by Congress, throughout U.S. history. The politically powerful dominate, while the weak – noncitizens – have their interests under-valued and often suffer punishment.

Part I of this Article summarizes the context surrounding the Hurricane Katrina disaster and how the stage was set for a racially-charged debate over the government's actions in response to the disaster as well as the mistreatment of immigrants. Part II critically analyzes how government harshly treated immigrants in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and how political failure within administrative agencies contributed to this treatment, just as it has throughout U.S. history. This structural flaw further helps explain why we know so little about the silent suffering of immigrants in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and, more generally, in American social life. It also suggests deep problems with the lack of political accountability of the immigration bureaucracy to noncitizens.

As it turns out, Hurricane Katrina is symptomatic of a more general problem in the governance of the United States. A shadow population of millions of undocumented immigrants who are abused and exploited, live in the United States and lack any formal input into the political process. They, along with many lawful immigrants, hold second class status in U.S. social life and, more specifically, are part of a low wage caste of color. Although more diluted than the old racial caste in place in the days of Jim Crow, it is a racial caste no less, marked by a subordinated status and subject to exploitation. To make matters worse, the democratic problem identified in this article is not limited to the immigration bureaucracy, but is a more general problem of U.S. government.


As this news story reports, Latino immigrants who came to the New Orleans and the Southeast to assist in rebuilding efforts are establishing more permanent roots in the region.  Many of those workers claim that they still have not been paid for their rebuilding work.




August 29, 2015 in Current Affairs, Food and Drinks, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Your Playlist: Malinda Kathleen Reese

For those who discuss translation issues in immigration court, have I got the song for you. Malina Kathleen Reese sings the anthem "Let it Go" from the movie Frozen, after running the lyrics through Google Translate (several times). The result is incredibly charming with lyrics like "Give up! Give up! Tune in and slam the door!"


The song is an excellent jumping off point for discussing:

  • Quality problems for esoteric languages
  • Quality problems for fluent speakers with agendas (e.g. a Tutsi translating for a Hutu)What it might be like for clients to not have other witnesses testimony translated for them, nor exchanges between the IJ and counsel

I learned of this great song from television personality John Oliver. In October 2014, John Oliver ran a scathing report on the U.S. treatment of military translators from Afghanistan and Iraq. It's really a must watch, if you missed it.


The interview with Mohammad toward the end of the program is a particularly excellent teaching tool as it provides a venue for class discussion on how we expect people to relay stories of intense horror (his father was murdered and his baby brother was kidnapped for ransom - facts he relays with little visible emotion) and the problems with judging veracity by way of demeanor in court.


July 14, 2015 in Music, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Born to Run: Chris Christie for President?!?!?



I can't help it.  Presidential elections are just a lot of fun.  As they say, truth is stranger than fiction.  Who would have guessed that Donald Trump, Bobby Jindal, Ted Cruz, and a fully array of characters would declare that they were candidates for the GOP nomination?  Now, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, with a personality that is larger than life, has made it official.  He is running for the Republican nomination for President of the United States.

An avowed fan of New Jersey native son Bruce Springsteen, Christie once supported a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants but publicly changed his view a few weeks ago as he readied his presidential run.  A International Business Times article observes that

"Christie has spent much of his time in office avoiding the issue of immigration. . . . Initially, Christie backed a pathway to citizenship. But that view has become untenable among many Republicans, who call it amnesty as they make an effort to stamp out any of its supporters in the party. In May, Christie shifted his position, saying he no longer backs that pathway. . . . There are still a lot of blanks for Christie to fill in on the issue of immigration. And, since it will be such a hotly contested issue during primary season, there will be many waiting to hear a more lengthy explanation of his views."'


June 30, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Your Playlist: Timbalive

It's Tuesday afternoon. Maybe you're sitting around the office trying to muster up the energy to proofread the current draft of your school's ABA site visit questionnaire. You know you could do it, if only you had a great background beat.

Ladies and gentlemen, enter Timbalive with their exceptionally catchy tune Llego mi pasaporte. And, bonus, it's a great classroom song for covering citizenship or defenses to deportation. After all, the opening lyrics are: "Ya llego, ya llego mi pasaporte, soy Americano y no hay quien me deporte...!!!"

Do watch the video. President Obama shows up. Sort of.



June 23, 2015 in Music, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Chris Christie Flip Flops Right on Immigration, Now Opposes Path to Citizenship


The flip flops on immigration by Republican presidential hopefuls continues.  Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was just the first. 

CNN reports that likely Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie said that he has changed his position on a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, becoming the latest Republican to recast their stance on the issue. Christie said Monday that he does not support possible citizenship for the immigrants, calling it an "extreme way to go." In 2010, the newly-elected Republican encouraged leaders in Washington to secure the border but also to "put forward a common sense path to citizenship for people."


One can only wonder what Bruce Springsteen, Chris Christie's musical idol, would say about Christie's new anti-legalization position.




May 20, 2015 in Current Affairs, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Your Playlist: REO Speedwagon

REO Speedwagon's Take It On The Run offers the perfect musical introduction to a discussion on the use of hearsay in removal proceedings. Listen to Kevin Cronin croon:

Heard it from a friend who
Heard it from a friend who
Heard it from another you been messin' around

The song is also an acoustic companion to Mary Halper's Confronting Cops in Immigration Court. Enjoy.



May 14, 2015 in Music, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Immigrant of the Day: Joey Alexander, Jazz Pianist


Our Immigrant of the Day comes from the pages of the New York Times.  Discovered in Jakarta, Indonesia, about three years ago, Joey Alexander moved with his parents to New York last year, with the help of jazz luminaries like the trumpeter Wynton Marsalis.

"Joey may be the most talked-about one that jazz has seen in a while, though he is hardly alone. There’s José André Montaño, a 10-year-old blind pianist from Bolivia; Kojo Roney, a 10-year-old drummer who had a concert residency last month in Brooklyn; and Grace Kelly, 22, an alto saxophonist who made her first album at 12. The list goes on, with some prodigies developing major careers and others falling short of their early promise."

Grossman Law LLP represents Joey.

Hat tip to Dan Kowalski.


May 13, 2015 in Current Affairs, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Your Podcast: Coast to Coast

Coast to Coast Immigration Law & Perspectives is a podcast hosted by immigration attorneys Matthew Archambeault (of Philadelphia, PA) and Stephen Robbins (of Yakima, WA). You can subscribe on iTunes. 

This week's podcast features crImmigration prof César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, who spoke about European immigration. César pops up around minute 12:04 and he signs off around 33:00.

The show manages to maintain a slightly irreverent and jovial tone while tackling serious and topical immigration issues. Here's a sample question from Stephen: "Now, if you listen to our politicians here in the United States, you'll know that the solution to our immigration problem is more fencing. Probably a taller one. Probably one that is longer and maybe even electrified ... so ... has Europe considered putting a fence in the Mediterranean sea. If so, how tall?"

I also can't resist noting Stephen's musing on whether Europeans, in arguing that their immigration policies aren't racist, might say: "We're also concerned with protecting the Baltic Sea." Touché.


April 29, 2015 in Current Affairs, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Your Playlist: Kristina Karo

Your playlist today needs to include Kristina Karo's Give Me Green Card.


You may be wondering, who on earth is Kirstina Karo? I wondered that myself. She claims to be a childhood friend of Mila Kunis - the actress, former immigrant of the day, and a far more famous Ukrainian. Karo recently sued Kunis for stealing a chicken some 25 years ago.

A specious lawsuit and a hot new youtube video? Seems like Karo is living the American dream now.


April 24, 2015 in Music | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Your Playlist: 38 Special

Here's a great ditty to accompany your class on cancellation of removal: 38 Special's Second Chance.



April 13, 2015 in Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Selena: Twenty Years Ago Today, The Queen of Tejano




Twenty years ago today, on March 31 1995, Latino superstar Selena was shot and killed by a devoted fan and former employee. The Grammy-winning singer was just 23 years old at the time.

Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, known by as Selena, was an American singer. Called the Queen of Tejano music, her contributions to music and fashion made her one of the most celebrated Mexican American entertainers of the end of the 20th century. She was named the "top Latin artist of the '90s" and "Best selling Latin artist of the decade" by Billboard magazine.



March 31, 2015 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Your Playlist: Los Jornaleros del Norte

We've covered Los Jornaleros del Norte before, noting their participation in a new form of protest: singing in front of immigration detention facilities.

Check out their music video for Serenta a un indocumentado. It's an excellent song to accompany your class on detention, deportation, or unauthorized migration.



March 26, 2015 in Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Bad Boy Justin Bieber's Latest Legal Troubles


CNN reports the latest in a pop icon's legal troubles, which could ultimately lead to his removal from the United States

"Two former neighbors of Justin Bieber have filed a lawsuit against the pop star, claiming he and his bodyguards repeatedly harassed them and their family, vandalized their house with eggs and threatened them with anti-Semitic remarks. . . .  In the lawsuit Jeffrey and Suzanne Schwartz say Bieber hosted frequent loud parties and spat in Jeffrey Schwartz' face after he complained about the pop star driving his Ferrari at dangerous speeds down the street of their gated community in Calabasas, California. . . .  The suit, filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, also alleges Bieber's bodyguards dismissed Jeffrey Schwartz's complaints by taunting him repeatedly with `what are you going to do about it, Jew boy?' The suit seeks unspecified damages and a jury trial."

Bieber was a previous Immigrant of the Day.


March 20, 2015 in Current Affairs, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)