Monday, August 10, 2020
From the Bookshelves: Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, and the White Nationalist Agenda by Jean Guerrero
Interested in the background and mindset behind the mastermind of the Trump administration's immigration policies? If so, here is a book for you.
Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, and the White Nationalist Agenda by Jean Guerrero is available tomorrow. The publisher describes the book as follows:
"Stephen Miller is one of the most influential advisors in the White House. He has crafted Donald Trump’s speeches, designed immigration policies that ban Muslims and separate families, and outlasted such Trump stalwarts as Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions. But he’s remained an enigma.
Until now. Emmy- and PEN-winning investigative journalist and author Jean Guerrero charts the thirty-four-year-old’s astonishing rise to power, drawing from more than one hundred interviews with his family, friends, adversaries and government officials.
Radicalized as a teenager, Miller relished provocation at his high school in liberal Santa Monica, California. He clashed with administrators and antagonized dark-skinned classmates with invectives against bilingualism and multiculturalism. At Duke University, he cloaked racist and classist ideas in the language of patriotism and heritage to get them airtime amid controversies. On Capitol Hill, he served Tea Party congresswoman Michele Bachmann and nativist Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions.
Recruited to Trump’s campaign, Miller met his idol. Having dreamed of Trump’s presidency before he even announced his decision to run, Miller became his senior policy advisor and speechwriter. Together, they stoked dystopian fears about the Democrats, `Deep State' and `American Carnage,' painting migrants and their supporters as an existential threat to America. Through backroom machinations and sheer force of will, Miller survived dozens of resignations and encouraged Trump’s harshest impulses, in conflict with the president’s own family. While Trump railed against illegal immigration, Miller crusaded against legal immigration. He targeted refugees, asylum seekers and their children, engineering an ethical crisis for a nation that once saw itself as the conscience of the world. Miller rallied support for this agenda, even as federal judges tried to stop it, by courting the white rage that found violent expression in tragedies from El Paso to Charlottesville.
Hatemonger unveils the man driving some of the most divisive confrontations over what it means to be American––and what America will become.'
Vanity Fair published an excerpt of the book. I found this paragraph from the excerpt revealing and not surprising:
"Stephen Miller was into mobster movies. Growing up, the walls of his bedroom were decorated with framed posters of Casino and Goodfellas—two of his favorite films. The characters in the Martin Scorsese films are largely amoral, but they live by a code. In Goodfellas, Robert De Niro’s character summed it up, “Never rat on your friends, and always keep your mouth shut.” Miller occasionally styled himself after De Niro’s characters in those films. He wore a golden pinkie ring and slicked back his hair, polo shirts and button-downs with nice pants and a jacket—so he looked like a mobster."
Sunday, August 9, 2020
CNN reports that former President George W. Bush will release a book of 43 portraits of immigrants in conjunction with an exhibition on the value of American immigration at the George W. Bush Presidential Center that will feature the paintings. The book will be titled "Out of Many, One" and will be published in March, 2021.
Kirkus released a statement saying that
"Bush’s Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants will contain his portraits of immigrants along with their personal stories. The book will coincide with an exhibition of Bush’s portraits at his presidential center in Dallas.
`While I recognize that immigration can be an emotional issue, I reject the premise that it is a partisan issue,' Bush writes in the introduction to the book. `It is perhaps the most American of issues, and it should be one that unites us.…My hope is that this book will help focus our collective attention on the positive impacts that immigrants are making on our country.'”
The Dig podcast interviews Kelly Lytle Hernández about her book Migra! A History of the U.S. Border Patrol. The book, which is well-worth reading to understand the modern border enforcement machinery, is abstracted below:
Political awareness of the tensions in U.S.-Mexico relations is rising in the twenty-first century; the American history of its treatment of illegal immigrants represents a massive failure of the promises of the American dream. This is the untold history of the United States Border Patrol from its beginnings in 1924 as a small peripheral outfit to its emergence as a large professional police force that continuously draws intense scrutiny and denunciations from political activism groups. To tell this story, MacArthur "Genius" Fellow Kelly Lytle Hernández dug through a gold mine of lost and unseen records and bits of biography stored in garages, closets, an abandoned factory, and in U.S. and Mexican archives. Focusing on the daily challenges of policing the Mexican border and bringing to light unexpected partners and forgotten dynamics, Migra! reveals how the U.S. Border Patrol translated the mandate for comprehensive migration control into a project of policing immigrants and undocumented “aliens” in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.
Professor Hernandez starts talking about ten minutes into the podcast.
Wednesday, August 5, 2020
Lobizona: A Novel by Romina Garber
"Garber’s gorgeous novel combines the wonder of a Hogwarts-style magic school with the Twilight-esque dynamics of a hidden magical species that has strict rules about interacting with the human world." - BOOKLIST (Starred Review)
Some people ARE illegal.
Lobizonas do NOT exist.
Both of these statements are false.
Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who's on the run from her father's Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.
Until Manu's protective bubble is shattered.
Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past―a mysterious "Z" emblem―which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.
As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it's not just her U.S. residency that's illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence.
“With vivid characters that take on a life of their own, beautiful details that peel back the curtain on Romina's Argentinian heritage, and cutting prose Romina Garber crafts a timely tale of identity and adventure.”–Tomi Adeyemi New York Times bestselling author of Children of Blood and Bone
Delfina V. Barbiero for USA Todaysays in a review that "Romina Garber's `Lobizona' (Wednesday Books, 400 pp., ★★★ out of four) is a young-adult fantasy novel of Argentinian folklore that doesn’t pull punches highlighting the plight of many undocumented immigrants in the United States. "
Tuesday, August 4, 2020
Who controls American immigration policy? The biggest immigration controversies of the last decade have all involved policies produced by the President policies such as President Obama's decision to protect Dreamers from deportation and President Trump's proclamation banning immigrants from several majority-Muslim nations. While critics of these policies have been separated by a vast ideological chasm, their broadsides have embodied the same widely shared belief: that Congress, not the President, ought to dictate who may come to the United States and who will be forced to leave.
This belief is a myth. In The President and Immigration Law, Adam B. Cox and Cristina M. Rodriguez chronicle the untold story of how, over the course of two centuries, the President became our immigration policymaker-in-chief. Diving deep into the history of American immigration policy from founding-era disputes over deporting sympathizers with France to contemporary debates about asylum-seekers at the Southern border they show how migration crises, real or imagined, have empowered presidents. Far more importantly, they also uncover how the Executive's ordinary power to decide when to enforce the law, and against whom, has become an extraordinarily powerful vehicle for making immigration policy.
Dahlia Litwack for Slate interviews the book's authors. She writes that the book "engage[s] in a fundamental reexamination of executive power over immigration law. "
Friday, July 31, 2020
On the Bookshelves: After the Last Border: Two Families and the Story of Refuge in America by Jessica Goudeau
After the Last Border: Two Families and the Story of Refuge in America by Jessica Goudeau (available August 4)
The story of two refugee families and their hope and resilience as they fight to survive and belong in America
The welcoming and acceptance of immigrants and refugees has been central to America's identity for centuries--yet America has periodically turned its back at the times of greatest humanitarian need. After the Last Border is an intimate look at the lives of two women as they struggle for the twenty-first century American dream, having won the "golden ticket" to settle as refugees in Austin, Texas. Mu Naw, a Christian from Myanmar struggling to put down roots with her family, was accepted after decades in a refugee camp at a time when America was at its most open to displaced families; and Hasna, a Muslim from Syria, agrees to relocate as a last resort for the safety of her family--only to be cruelly separated from her children by a sudden ban on refugees from Muslim countries. Writer and activist Jessica Goudeau tracks the human impacts of America's ever-shifting refugee policy as both women narrowly escape from their home countries and begin the arduous but lifesaving process of resettling in Austin, Texas--a city that would show them the best and worst of what America has to offer. After the Last Border situates a dramatic, character-driven story within a larger history--the evolution of modern refugee resettlement in the United States, beginning with World War II and ending with current closed-door policies--revealing not just how America's changing attitudes toward refugees has influenced policies and laws, but also the profound effect on human lives.
Jessica Goudeau has written for The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Teen Vogue, among other places, and is a former columnist for Catapult. She has a Ph.D. in literature from the University of Texas and served as a Mellon Writing Fellow and Interim Writing Center Director at Southwestern University. Goudeau has spent more than a decade working with refugees in Austin, Texas and is the cofounder of Hill Tribers, a nonprofit that provided supplemental income for Burmese refugee artisans for seven years.
Friday, July 17, 2020
Peter Margulies on Lawfare reviews Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom by Ilya Somin (Cato Institute Book, Oxford University Press, 2020). He writes:
"To hear President Trump tell it, `open borders' is a mantra of the radical Left. In his new book, “Free to Move: Foot Voting, Migration, and Political Freedom,” the always engaging and resourceful Ilya Somin, a professor at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, proudly claims the `open borders' ground from a different end of the political spectrum. Somin offers a compelling and ingenious justification for free global movement, from the standpoint not of politics, let alone the `radical' Left, but instead from a libertarian, small-government perspective."
Tuesday, July 14, 2020
Summer still has some weeks to go. Consider picking up another good read: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid.
In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. . . .
Exit West follows these remarkable characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.
Saturday, July 4, 2020
The world lost author Rudolfo Anaya this week -- a "father of Chicano literature," as the NYT explains in its obituary.
Anaya was best known for his 1972 novel Bless Me, Ultima -- the tale of a young Catholic Latino in New Mexico and the curandera who comes to stay with his family. As the NYT describes it, "The novel reframed the way many in New Mexico viewed their own history, prioritizing the blending of mythologies, bloodlines and religious practices over simplistic attempts to characterize the culture in which Mr. Anaya was raised as Spanish." The book was banned by states and schools.
Anaya wrote many other works over his lifetime, including The Old Man's Love Story.
Friday, July 3, 2020
Journalist Helen Thorpe is releasing a collection of essays in print, audio, and e-book form in July. The book description reads:
In Finding Motherland, I depict life on the dairy farm in Ireland where my mother was raised, describe how immigrating to the United States reshaped my parents, and share my experience of motherhood. I also celebrate an undocumented mother at our shared public school who faces enormous economic and legal challenges, and describe the labor of men who produce the locally grown food that we eat. Finally, I look back at the Irish who arrived here in the 1840s and 1850s, in the wake of the potato famine, penniless and starving, in much the same condition as many of the families who are immigrating today.
Thorpe is the author of Just Like Us and The Newcomers, books that I routinely assign in my immigration law classes and gift to my graduating research assistants! I look forward to reading her latest collection of essays on food and migration.
Thursday, July 2, 2020
From the Bookshelves: Illegal: One immigrant's life or death journey to the American dream by Laz Ayala
Illegal: One immigrant's life or death journey to the American dream by Laz Ayala (available July 21, 2020)
Laz Ayala escaped war-torn El Salvador as a 14-year-old in 1981. He smuggled over the Mexican border into the United States curled up in the trunk of an old Cadillac. A new life waited in San Bernardino, California, with his sister, father and brother. Laz had to succeed in school while learning English, with the threat of deportation looming. This is a story about immigration and the American dream.
Today Laz is a successful real estate entrepreneur, developer, and philanthropist. From a Dreamer to living his dream, Laz Ayala tells the story about how he came to America, and his mission to humanize immigrants and reform immigration policy.
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
President Trump has made immigration restrictions and enforcement a high priority. Martha Ross for the San Jose Mercury News highlights that President Trump's "Slovenian-born wife, Melania, is an immigrant who has never been fully transparent about her own immigrant journey, writes Mary Jordan, the author `The Art of Her Deal: The Untold Story of Melania Trump.'” Read the article and book for more on Melania's immigration story.
Here is an abstract of the book:
"This revelatory biography of Melania Trump from Pulitzer Prize–winning Washington Post reporter Mary Jordan depicts a first lady who is far more influential in the White House than most people realize.
Based on interviews with more than one hundred people in five countries, The Art of Her Deal: The Untold Story of Melania Trump draws an unprecedented portrait of the first lady. While her public image is of an aloof woman floating above the political gamesmanship of Washington, behind the scenes Melania Trump is not only part of President Trump’s inner circle, but for some key decisions she has been his single most influential adviser.
Throughout her public life, Melania Trump has purposefully worked to remain mysterious. With the help of key people speaking publicly for the first time and never-before-seen documents and tapes, The Art of Her Deal looks beyond the surface image to find a determined immigrant and the life she had before she met Donald Trump. Mary Jordan traces Melania’s journey from Slovenia, where her family stood out for their nonconformity, to her days as a fledgling model known for steering clear of the industry’s hard-partying scene, to a tiny living space in Manhattan she shared platonically with a male photographer, to the long, complicated dating dance that finally resulted in her marriage to Trump. Jordan documents Melania’s key role in Trump’s political life before and at the White House, and shows why he trusts her instincts above all.
The picture of Melania Trump that emerges in The Art of Her Deal is one of a woman who is savvy, steely, ambitious, deliberate, and who plays the long game. And while it is her husband who became famous for the phrase `the art of the deal,' it is she who has consistently used her leverage to get exactly what she wants. This is the story of the art of her deal."
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
Looking for another summer read? Consider Dominicana by Angie Cruz.
Fifteen-year-old Ana Cancion never dreamed of moving to America, the way the girls she grew up with in the Dominican countryside did. But when Juan Ruiz proposes and promises to take her to New York City, she has to say yes. It doesn’t matter that he is twice her age, that there is no love between them. Their marriage is an opportunity for her entire close-knit family to eventually immigrate. So on New Year’s Day, 1965, Ana leaves behind everything she knows and becomes Ana Ruiz, a wife confined to a cold six-floor walk-up in Washington Heights. Lonely and miserable, Ana hatches a reckless plan to escape. But at the bus terminal, she is stopped by Cesar, Juan’s free-spirited younger brother, who convinces her to stay.
As the Dominican Republic slides into political turmoil, Juan returns to protect his family’s assets, leaving Cesar to take care of Ana. Suddenly, Ana is free to take English lessons at a local church, lie on the beach at Coney Island, see a movie at Radio City Music Hall, go dancing with Cesar, and imagine the possibility of a different kind of life in America. When Juan returns, Ana must decide once again between her heart and her duty to her family.
In bright, musical prose that reflects the energy of New York City, Angie Cruz's Dominicana is a vital portrait of the immigrant experience and the timeless coming-of-age story of a young woman finding her voice in the world.
Thursday, June 11, 2020
It's an embarrassment of riches when it comes to new books about migration. Consider trying out Sonia Shah's The Next Great Migration.
The news today is full of stories of dislocated people on the move. Wild species, too, are escaping warming seas and desiccated lands, creeping, swimming, and flying in a mass exodus from their past habitats. News media presents this scrambling of the planet's migration patterns as unprecedented, provoking fears of the spread of disease and conflict and waves of anxiety across the Western world. On both sides of the Atlantic, experts issue alarmed predictions of millions of invading aliens, unstoppable as an advancing tsunami, and countries respond by electing anti-immigration leaders who slam closed borders that were historically porous.
But the science and history of migration in animals, plants, and humans tell a different story. Far from being a disruptive behavior to be quelled at any cost, migration is an ancient and lifesaving response to environmental change, a biological imperative as necessary as breathing. Climate changes triggered the first human migrations out of Africa. Falling sea levels allowed our passage across the Bering Sea. Unhampered by barbed wire, migration allowed our ancestors to people the planet, catapulting us into the highest reaches of the Himalayan mountains and the most remote islands of the Pacific, creating and disseminating the biological, cultural, and social diversity that ecosystems and societies depend upon. In other words, migration is not the crisis--it is the solution.
Conclusively tracking the history of misinformation from the 18th century through today's anti-immigration policies, The Next Great Migration makes the case for a future in which migration is not a source of fear, but of hope.
Wednesday, June 10, 2020
Ayan spends her days dreaming of being a doctor, but education is limited for a girl living in rural Somalia. Born into a nomadic family that raises goats and camels, Ayan longs to live in the city--Mogadishu--where she can fulfill her ambitions. With her grandmother's help, Ayan eventually travels to Mogadishu to live with her uncle and his family, and she attends school. But the garden wall surrounding her uncle's beautiful home cannot protect her forever, and the civil war soon appears at their doorstep. Ayan is forced to set out on a harrowing journey across the country as she seeks refuge. Through terrifying adventures and moments of touching generosity, Ayan arrives in Kenya, where she finds work as a maid, restarts her education, and discovers a love that alters the course of her life. Ultimately, she resettles in Minnesota, where she pursues her dream of being a doctor-now with all the challenges of a new life in a new land.
The Sahan Journal has a lovely write up on Fadumo Yusuf and her book. In that piece, the author explains that this book stems from her desire "to write authentic stories that capture some of the experiences of" Somali immigrants in Minnesota.
Tuesday, June 9, 2020
Looking for more summer reading? Consider Fairest: A Memoir.
Fairest is a memoir about a precocious boy with albinism, a "sun child" from a rural Philippine village, who would grow up to become a woman in America. Coping with the strain of parental neglect and the elusive promise of U.S. citizenship, Talusan found childhood comfort from her devoted grandmother, a grounding force as she was treated by others with special preference or public curiosity. As an immigrant to the United States, Talusan came to be perceived as white. An academic scholarship to Harvard provided access to elite circles of privilege but required Talusan to navigate through the complex spheres of race, class, sexuality, and her place within the gay community. She emerged as an artist and an activist questioning the boundaries of gender. Talusan realized she did not want to be confined to a prescribed role as a man, and transitioned to become a woman, despite the risk of losing a man she deeply loved. Throughout her journey, Talusan shares poignant and powerful episodes of desirability and love that will remind readers of works such as Call Me By Your Name and Giovanni's Room. Her evocative reflections will shift our own perceptions of love, identity, gender, and the fairness of life.
Monday, June 8, 2020
This summer, I read it. And now I commend it to you.
On Amazon, the publisher's blurb is shockingly brief:
Hayat Shah is a young American in love for the first time. His normal life of school, baseball, and video games had previously been distinguished only by his Pakistani heritage and by the frequent chill between his parents, who fight over things he is too young to understand. Then Mina arrives, and everything changes.
I suppose that might be an accurate description, except Mina arrives on page 33 of a 352 page book. So this run-up blurb is shockingly inapt.
I'd say this a coming of age story of a young man grappling with his personal relationship with religion, a quest that is inextricably linked to stories of immigration.
Saturday, June 6, 2020
Immprofs, are you looking for a way to talk with your young children or grandchildren about the George Floyd protests? Check out Something Happened in Our Town: A Child's Story About Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, with illustrations by Jennifer Zivoin. The book follows two families -- one white, one black -- as they talk about the recent shooting of a black man by a police officer. When the two youngest children to back to school, the lessons they learned from their families spur them to take positive action in welcoming a new student -- an immigrant who is still learning English.
You might need a box of tissues. I couldn't make it through the book without crying.
If you can't find your own copy of the book, don't worry. The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Center has you covered with this beautiful video.
Friday, June 5, 2020
Tomorrow night is the premiere of Yvonne Orji's new HBO comedy special: Momma, I Made It!
Orji is a comedian and actress, known for her role on HBO's hit show Insecure. She was born in Nigeria, grew up in Maryland, and, fascinatingly, got her Masters in Public Health from GW before pursuing her career in Hollywood.
As I said, you can catch her new show on HBO tomorrow. And you can read this NYT article to learn more about her life. Or consider a pre-order of her autobiography, Bamboozled by Jesus: How God Tricked Me into the Life of My Dreams, coming February 2021.
Monday, June 1, 2020
From the Bookshelves: Death in the Haymarket: A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement and the Bombing that Divided Gilded Age America by James Green
On May 4, 1886 in Chicago's Haymarket, a labor rally is interrupted first by a column of police officers, and then by a bomb from the crowd thrown into their ranks. The Haymarket affair would have major implications for the labor and social reform movement in the United States. James Green, author of Death in the Haymarket: A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement and the Bombing that Divided Gilded Age America, talks on this podcast about the events leading up to the bombing and the aftermath.
The bomb that exploded at a Chicago labor rally wounded dozens of policemen, killing seven. A wave of mass hysteria swept the country, leading to a sensational trial, that culminated in four controversial executions, and dealt a blow to the labor movement from which it would take decades to recover. In his book, Green recounts the rise of the first great labor movement in the wake of the Civil War and brings to life the struggle for the eight-hour workday. Blending a gripping narrative, outsized characters and a panoramic portrait of a major social movement, Death in the Haymarket is an important addition to the history of American capitalism and a moving story about the class tensions at the heart of Gilded Age America.
Immigration was part of the story of the Haymarket affair. As History.com recounts,
"The Haymarket Riot set off a national wave of xenophobia, as scores of foreign-born radicals and labor organizers were rounded up by the police in Chicago and elsewhere. In August 1886, eight men labeled as anarchists were convicted in a sensational and controversial trial in which the jury was considered to be biased and no solid evidence was presented linking the defendants to the bombing."