Monday, March 24, 2014


Kino Lorber presents the U.S. theatrical premiere WHO IS DAYANI CRISTAL?, the piercing new film about the human side of the U.S. immigration crisis by Gael García Bernal (Y Tu Mamá También, No) and Marc Silver. The film will open on April 25th in New York, followed by a release to select U.S. cities nationwide.

Winner of the Sundance 2013 World Cinema Cinematography Award and an official selection at the 51st New York Film Festival, WHO IS DAYANI CRISTAL? adds critical perspective to the intense immigration reform debate in the United States. In this piercing documentary that pushes the edges of the non-fiction form, acclaimed Mexican actor and activist Gael García Bernal tells the story of one of the many migrant workers who lost their lives in the stretch of Arizona desert known as “the corridor of death.” As Mr. Bernal retraces this man’s steps along the migrant trail in Central America, he and director Marc Silver show how one life can become a powerful testimony to the tragic results of the U.S. war on immigration.

With contributions from the dedicated forensic examiners of the Pima County Morgue in Arizona, the film seeks to answer questions surrounding the death of this yet-unidentified man. As the investigation unfolds, Mr. Bernal embeds himself among migrant travelers on their own mission to cross the border. He witnesses first-hand the dangers that these men, women and children face on their way to the United States, offering new insight into the sacrifices made in the search for a better life.

Gael García Bernal and director Marc Silver have created an unique experiential documentary that illuminates the urgent issue of immigration. The film brings viewers intimately close to the often-invisible lives that have been affected by a broken immigration policy.


March 24, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Jewish Leaders Pressure Eric Cantor on Immigration Reform

From Bend the Arc:

Jewish voters are ratcheting up the pressure on Majority Leader Eric Cantor to move comprehensive immigration reform through the House. On Monday, Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice launched a petition calling on Rep. Cantor to bring immigration reform to a vote. The effort, spearheaded by Bend the Arc, is a collaboration of many of the nation’s leading Jewish organizations.
The petition (at makes clear that immigration reform is a priority issue for the Jewish community:
“As American Jews, we believe in a nation that grants today's immigrants access to the same basic freedoms and opportunities that drew our ancestors and yours.”
The Jewish community’s petition comes as House Democratic leaders plan to file a discharge petition to move the immigration bill to a floor vote. Even though Rep. Cantor has acknowledged that immigration reform would boost the economy, he has offered only excuses for the long obstruction of a floor vote on immigration reform.
“Leader Cantor, like all of us in the American Jewish community, owes his place in this nation to previous generations who were welcomed by our country’s immigration system,” said Stosh Cotler, CEO of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice. “This petition is meant to remind him of that shared history and of the responsibility we have as American Jews to show compassion and fairness to the hard-working families seeking to build a better life in America.”
Over the past year, Bend the Arc has organized around the issue of immigration, arranging meetings between Jewish leaders and congressional staff, hosting immigration-themed Shabbats, organizing petitions and participating in marches, vigils and town halls to deliver the message that immigration reform is a top priority for Jewish voters. In October, Bend the Arc’s rabbi-in-residence was arrested at a national demonstration for immigration reform alongside members of Congress during an act of civil disobedience on the National Mall.
“Many American Jews are only one, two or three generations removed from our families’ first days in this country,” said Ms. Cotler. “We believe in an America that strives to fulfill the ideals of fairness and opportunity it stands for. That’s why we’re dedicated to making sure that today’s immigrants are given the same opportunities that enabled us to thrive.”


March 24, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Report Examines Changes in State and Local Immigration Laws

Today, the Center for American Progress released a new analysis that looks at the evolution of immigration laws in states around the country. The report examines the significant role that states and localities play in regulating the lives of immigrant residents.

In the past decade, state and local governments have produced a flurry of legislation related to immigrants and immigration. Much of the legislation between 2004 and 2012 was restrictive in nature, making it more difficult for immigrants to reside in communities, work, and live their daily lives. In the past few years, the tide has largely turned, and a growing number of states are passing more-welcoming laws aimed at integrating immigrant residents and mitigating some of the harsh consequences of immigration enforcement. These laws have taken a range of forms, from providing driver’s licenses and in-state tuition to limiting cooperation with federal immigration authorities. Importantly, states and localities are enacting these welcoming laws even as Congress has failed to pass immigration reform.

Conventional wisdom on the rise of anti-immigrant state laws argues that the movement of immigrants into new places, such as Kansas, North Carolina, Georgia, and beyond, sparked fears of cultural and economic threats, concerns over crime, and local challenges such as overcrowded housing. Today’s report finds that these factors fail to explain why many states passed such harsh and restrictive laws. Changing demographics alone did not make the rise of anti-immigrant legislation inevitable, nor were they the main factor in the growth of these laws. CAP’s analysis identifies other causes, including local political considerations, national political polarization, and inaction at the federal level as the forces behind anti-immigrant policies on the state level.

The report also identifies two major factors influencing the shift from these restrictive laws toward more pro-integration policies: the Supreme Court struck down much of Arizona’s S.B. 1070 in 2012, and the 2012 presidential election provided a turning point away from attrition-through-enforcement laws as a political strategy. Pro-immigrant integration laws also benefitted from a broader coalition of supporters, states’ focus on serious criminals for their enforcement efforts, and executive action in the form of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. Read the report: Understanding Immigration Federalism in the United States by Karthick Ramakrishnan and Pratheepan Gulasekaram

March 24, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Technology Use Surges in Border Enforcement, Private Sector Cashes in on Border Fears

Julia Preston of the New York Times reports on the growing preference of technology in border enforcement.  Merchants of various new age security technologies from robots to drones showed their wares to interested governmental officials and others at the Border Security Expo last week in Phoenix, Arizona.  According to its website, the "Border Security Expo is an important world class event that is the premier border security conference in the world." Jayson P. Ahern Principal, The Chertoff Group and Former Acting Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection.



March 24, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: GBTI Migrants in Immigration Detention: A Global Perspective by Shana Tabak and Rachel Levitan



LGBTI Migrants in Immigration Detention: A Global Perspective by Shana Tabak (American University - Washington College of Law) and Rachel Levitan (HIAS - Refugees and Migration) February 26, 2014 Harvard Journal of Law and Gender, Vol. 37, No. 1, 2014 American University, WCL Research Paper No. 2014-13

Abstract: Among the thousands of migrants who are detained by states each year, those who are perhaps most vulnerable to human rights violations are oftentimes invisible within the immigration systems: LGBTI detainees. Human rights violations perpetrated against these individuals, who may be targeted during their detention as a result of their sexual orientation or gender identity, are made all the more egregious since many LGBTI detainees in immigration detention chose to migrate from their countries of origin as a result of persecution faced specifically due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. This Article aims to highlight protections available under international law for LGBTI detainees, to call attention to the invisibility of the unique challenges that LGBTI individuals may face in detention, and to call for more specific guidance and compliance from states in order to sufficiently address this global human rights concern.


March 24, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Immigrant of the Day: Jose Beteta, Costa Rica

Our Immigrant of the Day has been in the news:  "He owns a small business. He is president of the Boulder, Colo. Latino Chamber of Commerce. And now, he is the newly appointed member of the Boulder City Council Human Relations Commission. What makes Jose Beteta’s milestones all the more significant is that the 34-year-old Costa Rican is in the United States illegally – and it’s no secret."  Beteta has lived in the United States for 20 years and, through the assistance of an attorney, has tried to regularize his immigration status.


March 23, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Icon Elvira Arrellano Back in United States!

Fox News Latino reports that Mexican activist Elvira Arellano, who holed up in a Chicago church for more than a year to avoid deportation, was released in San Diego two days after giving herself up to U.S. immigration authorities.  She has been paroled into the country and will have a hearing in immigration court.

Arellano was TIME magazine's Person of the Year in 2006.  She  rejoin her loved ones.

Arellano was deported from the United States in August 2007, shortly after she left the Chicago church that sheltered her from immigration authorities seeking to enforce a deportation order.


March 23, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: The Price of Rights: Regulating International Labor Migration by Martin Ruhs


The Price of Rights: Regulating International Labor Migration by Martin Ruhs

Many low-income countries and development organizations are calling for greater liberalization of labor immigration policies in high-income countries. At the same time, human rights organizations and migrant rights advocates demand more equal rights for migrant workers. The Price of Rights shows why you cannot always have both.

Examining labor immigration policies in over forty countries, as well as policy drivers in major migrant-receiving and migrant-sending states, Martin Ruhs finds that there are trade-offs in the policies of high-income countries between openness to admitting migrant workers and some of the rights granted to migrants after admission. Insisting on greater equality of rights for migrant workers can come at the price of more restrictive admission policies, especially for lower-skilled workers. Ruhs advocates the liberalization of international labor migration through temporary migration programs that protect a universal set of core rights and account for the interests of nation-states by restricting a few specific rights that create net costs for receiving countries.

The Price of Rights analyzes how high-income countries restrict the rights of migrant workers as part of their labor immigration policies and discusses the implications for global debates about regulating labor migration and protecting migrants. It comprehensively looks at the tensions between human rights and citizenship rights, the agency and interests of migrants and states, and the determinants and ethics of labor immigration policy.

 For a thoughtful review of the book by Susan Gzesh, click here.


March 23, 2014 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

U.S. Government Complicit in Mistreatment of Chinese Immigrants

Here is another thoughtful response to a New York Times article on "asylum abuse."  Allegations of asylum abuse in high profile media outlets deserve reponse.  Rcall that a 60 Minutes story on asylum abuse, including by Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, contributed to the political push for expedited removal in the 1996 immigration reforms.


March 22, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Death on the Border: The Danger of Throwing Rocks

This McClatchy news story is all-too-familiar:  "Sixteen-year-old Jose Antonio Elena got the kind of punishment that those who toss rocks at Border Patrol agents receive with startling frequency: He was shot with a .40-caliber round from an agent’s service weapon."   CNN reported on this general phenomenon last month.


March 22, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Death on the Border: The Danger of Throwing Rocks

This McClatchy news story is all-too-familiar:  "Sixteen-year-old Jose Antonio Elena got the kind of punishment that those who toss rocks at Border Patrol agents receive with startling frequency: He was shot with a .40-caliber round from an agent’s service weapon."   CNN reported on this general phenomenon last month.


March 22, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography


The Crusades of Cesar Chavez by Miriam Pawel

Cesar Chavez founded a labor union, launched a movement, and inspired a generation. He rose from migrant worker to national icon, becoming one of the great charismatic leaders of the 20th century. Two decades after his death, Chavez remains the most significant Latino leader in US history. Yet his life story has been told only in hagiography—until now.

In the first comprehensive biography of Chavez, Miriam Pawel offers a searching yet empathetic portrayal. Chavez emerges here as a visionary figure with tragic flaws; a brilliant strategist who sometimes stumbled; and a canny, streetwise organizer whose pragmatism was often at odds with his elusive, soaring dreams. He was an experimental thinker with eclectic passions—an avid, self-educated historian and a disciple of Gandhian non-violent protest.

Drawing on thousands of documents and scores of interviews, this superbly written life deepens our understanding of one of Chavez’s most salient qualities: his profound humanity. Pawel traces Chavez’s remarkable career as he conceived strategies that empowered the poor and vanquished California’s powerful agriculture industry, and his later shift from inspirational leadership to a cult of personality, with tragic consequences for the union he had built. The Crusades of Cesar Chavez reveals how this most unlikely American hero ignited one of the great social movements of our time.

Miriam Pawel is an award-winning reporter and editor who spent twenty-five years working for Newsday and the Los Angeles Times. 

This book review in the Los Angeles Times highlights the book's look at Chavez's treatment of undocumented immigrants:

"Pawel does not shy away from the more disturbing sides of Chavez and the UFW. Chavez railed against illegal immigration, encouraging deportations — even though in parts of California most farm workers were undocumented, and many were willing to organize and become part of the UFW.

Cesar's cousin, Manuel Chavez, working for Chavez and the UFW, hired thugs to beat up migrants at the border in Arizona and bribed local police to let the vigilantes do their work, a project, as Pawel notes, decidedly at odds with Cesar's `steadfast commitment to nonviolence.'"

The Crusades of Cesar Chavez is likely to contrast sharply with the soon-to-be-released film Cesar Chavez.


March 22, 2014 in Books, Current Affairs, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 21, 2014

From the Bookshelves: Living the Dream: New Immigration Policies and the Lives of Undocumented Latino Youth

Living the Dream: New Immigration Policies and the Lives of Undocumented Latino Youth by Maria Chavez, Jessica L. Lavariega Monforti, Melissa R. Michelson, available September 2014

In 2012, President Obama deferred the deportation of qualified undocumented youth, forever changing the lives of the approximately five million DREAMers currently in the US. Formerly “illegal,” a generation of Latino youth have begun to build new lives based on their newfound “legitimacy.” In this book, the first to examine the lives of DREAMers in the wake of Obama’s action, the authors relay the real life stories of more than 100 DREAMers from four states. They assess the life circumstances in which undocumented Latino youth find themselves, the racializing effects generated by current immigration public discourse, and the permanent impact of this policy environment on DREAMers in America.


March 21, 2014 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Country Profile -- Morocco: Setting the Stage for Becoming a Migration Transition Country?



Since the 1960s, Morocco has evolved into one of the world's leading emigration countries. Immigration restrictions in Europe did not stop migration, but rather pushed Moroccan migrants into permanent settlement, prompting large-scale family reunification. Morocco is also becoming a destination country for migrants from sub-Saharan Africa and, to some extent, crisis-hit European countries. The growing presence of immigrants confronts Moroccan society with an entirely new set of social and legal issues typical for immigration countries, which do not yet resonate with Morocco's self-image as an emigration country. These changing realities prompted the Moroccan government to announce a new migration policy in 2013, as this country profile from the Migration Policy Institute explores.


March 21, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hot Sauce Embroiled in Local Controversy in SoCal



Law Professor Ernesto Hernandez-Lopez comments on a "hot" dispute in Southern California.  Local politics in California has ignited fear for fans of Sriracha, an extremely popular hot sauce, created for pho, a Vietnamese soup, and now fancied for Asian, taco and fusion dishes, sushi and street food. Celebrities, home chefs, even workers from the mailroom to the top offices are fans. Sriracha lovers around the globe are closely monitoring the actions of a small Los Angeles suburb that recently went to court to stop its production. The small city of Irwindale, east of Los Angeles, argues that Huy Fong Foods, maker of Sriracha, a hot chili sauce, emits harmful odors from a new plant within the city boundaries.  Click the link above to read more about the dispute.

By the way, David Tran, the founder of Huy Fong Foods, which manufactures Sriracha, has an amazing refugee story. See here, here, here.



March 21, 2014 in Current Affairs, Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (2)

Pope to Weigh In on Immigration Reform?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Borderland on Al Jazeera



A new documentary series hopes to change the way Americans think and talk about immigration reform. It’s called “Borderland” and it premiers nationwide on Al Jazeera America on Sunday, April 13th. Six Americans, from different walks of life and armed with strong viewpoints, are dropped into situations that transform the way they look at immigration reform. Before anyone makes up their mind on the immigration debate, they should watch this thought-provoking series.


March 20, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immigration Article of the Day: Climate Change Refugees by Matthew J. Lister


Climate Change Refugees by Matthew J. Lister, University of Denver Sturm College of Law February 26, 2014 Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, Forthcoming

Abstract: Under the UNHCR definition of a refugee, set out in the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, people fleeing their homes because of natural disasters or other environmental problems do not qualify for refugee status and the protection that come from such status. In a recent paper, "Who Are Refugees?", I defended the essentials of the UNHCR definition on the grounds that refugee status and protection is best reserved for people who can only be helped by granting them refuge in a safe state for an indefinite period of time, and argued that this does not include most people fleeing from natural disasters. This claim is most strongly challenged by possibility of displacement from climate change. In this paper I will explore to what degree the logic of the refugee convention, as set out in my earlier paper, can and should be extended to those fleeing the results of climate change, and will argue that the logic of the refugee convention tells in favor of extending refugee protection to a portion of those who must flee their homes because of climate-change related environmental problems.


March 20, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Jorge Ramos on Immigration

Watch Jorge Ramos on Immigration Reform: Fences Are Not the Solution:  "Everything starts at the border but ends up in Washington." On the debut of “AMERICA” in its new weekly newsmagazine format, Jorge Ramos traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border to find out why many people think more fences are the solution for the problem of illegal immigration. What he did find is that as long as people in Mexico and Central America are unemployed, or making $5 dollars a day when they can make the same amount in the United States in an hour, immigrants are going to find a way to come in. Ramos says, "Fences are not the solution. Not right now."

Meanwhile in Washington, President Obama is reaching record deportation numbers. He says he can't use his executive order to stop them, but many Latinos believe he can. On the other hand, Republicans and Speaker John Boehner are stalling on comprehensive reform, something Ramos believes will hurt them in 2016.

Watch Jorge Ramos Reports: Border Crossings Are Down But Deaths Remain the Same – Border crossings are at an all-time low but the number of recorded deaths remain the same. Since President Barack Obama took office, he's overseen at least 1.8 million deportations, a figure that has likely reached 2 million today. Fusion's Jorge Ramos went to the border of Nogales, Arizona, to find out why so many people are still dying in the desert.


March 20, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Human Rights, Climate Change, Environmental Degradation and Migration: A New Paradigm

Climate change and environmental degradation are projected to displace millions of people around the world in the coming years, either directly or indirectly. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, a leading organization in the monitoring and analysis of displacement, estimates that in 2012 alone more than 32 million people were displaced by extreme weather events or the risk of rapid-onset disasters associated with natural hazards.

While today’s international legal framework provides a degree of protection to certain environmental migrants, there is little consensus on the definition of such migrants, in large part because it is difficult to ascertain with greater precision the relationship between environmental factors and migration. A precise definition is needed to promote recognition of environmental migrants’ vulnerability, identify gaps in the existing legal framework, and move forward in the conversation about their protection.

The issue brief, the latest in a joint series launched by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) and the International Organization for Migration’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, evaluates the current human-rights framework and its implementation.

The brief, Human Rights, Climate Change, Environmental Degradation and Migration: A New Paradigm, also reviews legal options available to the international community to protect environmental migrants and recommends approaches for strengthening the current “soft law” approach.

It also touches upon the situation in Asia and the Pacific, looking specifically at the legal challenges posed by the submergence of small island states and effects on other climate-vulnerable countries, such as Bangladesh.


March 20, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)