Sunday, January 19, 2020

Understanding Immigration: A Reading List


Immigration law professor Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia has posted a reading list of books on immigration on the NYU Press blog.  Its a great list including some classics and soon-to-be instant classics.  One of the books Just MercyJust Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Bryan Stevenson's indictment of the criminal justice system.  Wadhia sees similarities between the immigration and criminal justice systems.


January 19, 2020 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 17, 2020

From the Bookshelves: Organizing While Undocumented: Immigrant Youth's Political Activism under the Law by Kevin Escudero


Organizing While Undocumented: Immigrant Youth's Political Activism under the Law by Kevin Escudero, NYU Press, March 3, 2020 

Undocumented immigrants in the United States who engage in social activism do so at great risk: the threat of deportation. In Organizing While Undocumented, Kevin Escudero shows why and how—despite this risk—many of them bravely continue to fight on the front lines for their rights.

Drawing on more than five years of research, including interviews with undocumented youth organizers, Escudero focuses on the movement’s epicenters—San Francisco, Chicago, and New York City—to explain the impressive political success of the undocumented immigrant community. He shows how their identities as undocumented immigrants, but also as queer individuals, people of color, and women, connect their efforts to broader social justice struggles today.

A timely, worthwhile read, Organizing While Undocumented gives us a look at inspiring triumphs, as well as the inevitable perils, of political activism in precarious times.



January 17, 2020 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 16, 2020

From the Bookshelves: Islamophobia and the Law edited by Cyra Akila Choudhury and Khaled A. Beydoun


Islamophobia and the Law edited by Cyra Akila Choudhury and Khaled A. Beydoun, Cambridge University Press, March 2020)


Islamophobia and the Law is a foundational volume of critical scholarship on the emerging form of bigotry widely known as Islamophobia. This book brings together leading legal scholars to explore the emergence and rise of Islamophobia after the 9/11 terror attacks, particularly how the law brings about state-sponsored Islamophobia and acts as a dynamic catalyst of private Islamophobia and vigilante violence against Muslims. The first book of its kind, it is a critical read for scholars and practitioners, advocates and students interested in deepening their knowledge of the subject matter. This collection addresses Islamophobia in race, immigration and citizenship, criminal law and national security, in the use of courts to advance anti-Muslim projects and in law and society.


January 16, 2020 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

From the Bookshelves: Come Out, Come Out, Whoever You Are by Abigail C. Saguy


Come Out, Come Out, Whoever You Are by Abigail C. Saguy (Oxford University Press, 2020)

  • This book shows how the concept of coming out has been used in five distinct contexts: the American LGBTQ+ movement, the fat acceptance movement, the undocumented immigrant youth movement, the plural-marriage family movement among Mormon fundamentalist polygamists, and the #MeToo movement.
  • Provides a close look at how identity politics works by focusing on the dynamics of social recognition and social change across stigmatized groups
  • Draws on 146 in-depth interviews, as well as participant observation and textual analysis of five different social movements.


In Chapter 3, Saguy explains how the undocumented immigrant youth movement has evoked “coming out as undocumented and unafraid” to mobilize fearful constituents.  She discusses the local and state-level legislative changes for which the movement has advocated, including the federal DREAM Act – and argues that while the DREAM Act never passed, the undocumented immigrant youth movement arguably led President Obama to sign the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order in June 2012. Ultimately, she shows how the undocumented immigrant youth movement has successfully challenged cultural understandings by offering an alternative image to that of “illegal immigrants” sneaking across the border—that of educated and talented “DREAMers.”




January 15, 2020 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 13, 2020

From the Bookshelves: American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

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American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (available Jan. 21, 2020)


Stephen King

“This book is not simply the great American novel; it’s the great novel of las Americas. It’s the great world novel! This is the international story of our times. Masterful.”
―Sandra Cisneros

También de este lado hay sueños. On this side, too, there are dreams.

Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy―two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia―trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

American Dirt will leave readers utterly changed. It is a literary achievement filled with poignancy, drama, and humanity on every page. It is one of the most important books for our times.

Already being hailed as "a Grapes of Wrath for our times" and "a new American classic," Jeanine Cummins's American Dirt is a rare exploration into the inner hearts of people willing to sacrifice everything for a glimmer of hope.


Book columnist Barbara Lane of the San Francisco Chronicle says that "The very best novel I’ve read about immigrants (and the best novel I’ve read over the past year) is Jeanine Cummins’ `American Dirt.'”  Here is a review from The Guardian"[I]t is hard to imagine there will be a more urgent or politically relevant novel this year."




January 13, 2020 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 10, 2020

Immigration Law Professor on "Morning Joe"




Immigration law professor and book author César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández recently joined the popular morning show "Morning Joe" to discuss immigration prisons and why he's calling for them to be closed.  Professor Garcia is author of the new and acclaimed book Migrating to Prison: Immigration in the Age of Mass Incarceration.


January 10, 2020 in Books, Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Call for Submissions: Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing

Submissions are open for the 2020 Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing. In its fifth year, the prize will award $10,000 and publication to a debut work of fiction by a first-generation immigrant. The 2020 judges are all immigrants themselves:  novelist Dinaw Mengestu, translator Achy Obejas, and Restless Books publisher Ilan Stavans. We seek extraordinary, culture-straddling writing from emerging writers that addresses identity in a global age. Submissions are open through March 2020.  The  prize page has the full guidelines and eligibility requirements, as well as information about the judges and the past winners. 


January 7, 2020 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Chicken of the Sea: A book by and for children


Ellie Nguyen (the 4-year old son of Pulitzer and McArthur Genius Grant winning immigrant author Viet Ngyen) and Hien Bui-Stafford (the 13-year old son of illustrator Thi Bui) collaborated to write a silly children's book called "Chicken of the Sea."

The plot: Chicken of the Sea tells the story of three farm chickens: Every day they wake up, they lay eggs, they go to sleep ... and then they start the process all over again. They're bored and ready for an adventure, until, one day a rat pirate arrives at the farm ready to enlist the chickens to sail the high seas ("but they're too dumb to be pirates," Ellison says).

Very impressive, these children of immigrants!


January 2, 2020 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Books by and about Latinos in 2019

Rigoberto Gonzalez at NBC News provides a top 10 list of books by and for Latinos.  The books highlighted as the "best Latino books, according to Latinx writers" are Kali Fajardo-Anstine's Sabrina & Corina,” a debut collection of stories that was named a finalist for the National Book Award in fiction; Angie Cruz’s “Dominicana,” a novel that launched Good Morning America’s Cover to Cover book club, and Carmen Maria Machado’s “In the Dream House,” whose inventive approach to narrative single-handedly reimagined the memoir.

Here is the full list of ten from Gonzalez:

  1. Where We Come From: A Novel by Oscar Casares
  2. Kafka in a Skirt: Stories from the Wall by Daniel Chacon
  3. Queen of Bones by Teresa Dovalpage
  4. Magical Realism for Non-Believers: A Memoir of Finding Family by Anika Fajardo
  5. The Accidental: Poems by Gina Franco
  6. Staten Island Stories by Claire Jimenez
  7. Rattlesnake Allegory by Joe Jimenez
  8. The King of Adobe: Reies Lopez Tigerina, Lost Prophet of the Chicano Movement by Lorena Oropeza
  9. I Offer My Heart as a Target, by Johanny Vazquez Paz
  10. Cantoras: A Novel by Carolina de Robertis


January 2, 2020 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 29, 2019

From the Bookshelves: All-American Nativism: How the Bipartisan War on Immigrants Explains Politics as We Know It by Daniel Denvir


All-American Nativism: How the Bipartisan War on Immigrants Explains Politics as We Know It by Daniel Denvir (Available January 20, 2020)

A major recasting of American history from the vantage of immigration politics

It is often said that with the election of Donald Trump nativism was raised from the dead. After all, here was a president who organized his campaign around a rhetoric of unvarnished racism and xenophobia. Among his first acts on taking office was to issue an executive order blocking Muslim immigrants from entering the United States. But although his actions may often seem unprecedented, they are not as unusual as many people believe. This story doesn’t begin with Trump. For decades, Republicans and Democrats alike have employed xenophobic ideas and policies, declaring time and again that “illegal immigration” is a threat to the nation’s security, wellbeing, and future.

The profound forces of all-American nativism have, in fact, been pushing politics so far to the right over the last forty years that, for many people, Trump began to look reasonable. As Daniel Denvir argues, issues as diverse as austerity economics, free trade, mass incarceration, the drug war, the contours of the post 9/11 security state, and, yes, Donald Trump and the Alt-Right movement are united by the ideology of nativism, which binds together assorted anxieties and concerns into a ruthless political project.

All-American Nativism provides a powerful and impressively researched account of the long but often forgotten history that gave us Donald Trump.


December 29, 2019 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 23, 2019

Part of the Trump Effect? An Increase in Children's Immigration Books 9780316431231 9780823440559

For those last-minute shoppers among us, immigration-themed children’s books are a great choice. “[A] growing number of authors are writing children's books about immigration,” CNN’s Catherine Shoichet writes.  She highlights books by Yuyi Morales, Juana Martinez-Neal, Bao Phi, Fiona McEntee, and Oge Mora.


December 23, 2019 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

From the Bookshelves: A Federal Right to Education: Fundamental Questions for Our Democracy by Kimberly Jenkins Robinson (editor)


A Federal Right to Education: Fundamental Questions for Our Democracy by Kimberly Jenkins Robinson (editor)

How the United States can provide equal educational opportunity to every child

The U.S. Supreme Court closed the courthouse door to federal litigation to narrow educational funding and opportunity gaps in schools when it ruled in San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez in 1973 that the Constitution does not guarantee a right to education. Rodriguez pushed reformers back to the state courts where they have had some success in securing reforms to school funding systems through education and equal protection clauses in state constitutions, but far less success in changing the basic structure of school funding in ways that would ensure access to equitable and adequate funding for schools. Given the limitations of state school funding litigation, education reformers continue to seek new avenues to remedy inequitable disparities in educational opportunity and achievement, including recently returning to federal court.

This book is the first comprehensive examination of three issues regarding a federal right to education: why federal intervention is needed to close educational opportunity and achievement gaps; the constitutional and statutory legal avenues that could be employed to guarantee a federal right to education; and, the scope of what a federal right to education should guarantee. A Federal Right to Education provides a timely and thoughtful analysis of how the United States could fulfill its unmet promise to provide equal educational opportunity and the American Dream to every child, regardless of race, class, language proficiency, or neighborhood.

The book includes contributions from many influential scholars., with a foreword by Marha Minow.  I felt honored to be able to contribute a chapter on "Latina/os and a Federal Right to Education, which, among other things, discusses teh significance of teh Supreme Court's decision in Plyler v. Doe, which invalidated a Texas law barring undocumented children from the Texas public schools.


December 17, 2019 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 9, 2019

From the Bookshelves: Top 10 Lists Include several about Immigration [UPDATED 12/10/2019]

The Washington Post's 10 Best Books of 2019 includes two books about immigration.

A Good Provider is One Who Leaves: One Family and Migration in the 21st Century, by Jason DeParle: A riveting multigenerational tale of one Filipino family dispersing across the globe — from Manila to Abu Dhabi to Galveston, Tex., and so many places in between — as parents leave their kids for years at a time to send home wages many multiples of what they previously earned. As immigration emerges as a central political battleground in the Trump era, this book provides crucial insight into the global scope, shifting profiles and, above all, individual sacrifices of the migrant experience. (Previously featured on ImmigrationProf blog here.)

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, by Ocean Vuong: This debut novel by a Saigon-born poet is labeled fiction but draws heavily on the events of the author’s life. The daring mix of historical recollection and sexual exploration is framed as a candid letter to the narrator’s mother, a volcanic woman whose life was made possible by the Vietnam War. (Her father was a U.S. soldier.) Vuong’s willingness to solve the equation of his own existence, no matter its components, is a hallmark of this poignant and lyrical work of self-discovery. Vuong is listed on the NPR top ten books as well. (Previously featured on ImmigrationProf Blog here and here.)

The NY Times Top Ten Books List includes:

Lost Children Archive, by Valeria Luiselli. The Mexican author’s third novel — her first to be written in English — unfolds against a backdrop of crisis: of children crossing borders, facing death, being detained, being deported unaccompanied by their guardians. The novel centers on a couple and their two children (all unnamed), who are taking a road trip from New York City to the Mexican border; the couple’s marriage is on the brink of collapse as they pursue independent ethnographic research projects and the woman tries to help a Mexican immigrant find her daughters, who’ve gone missing in their attempt to cross the border behind her. The brilliance of Luiselli’s writing stirs rage and pity, but what might one do after reading such a novel? Acutely sensitive to these misgivings, Luiselli has delivered a madly allusive, self-reflexive, experimental book, one that is as much about storytellers and storytelling as it is about lost children.


A Washington Post children's book list includes many books with a global dimension, including Gittel's Journey: An Ellis Island Story.


December 9, 2019 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 6, 2019

From the Bookshelves: The Ungrateful Refugee: What Immigrants Never Tell You by Dina Nayeri (2019)


The Ungrateful Refugee: What Immigrants Never Tell You by Dina Nayeri (2019)

Aged eight, Dina Nayeri fled Iran along with her mother and brother and lived in the crumbling shell of an Italian hotel–turned–refugee camp. Eventually she was granted asylum in America. She settled in Oklahoma, then made her way to Princeton University. In this book, Nayeri weaves together her own vivid story with the stories of other refugees and asylum seekers in recent years, bringing us inside their daily lives and taking us through the different stages of their journeys, from escape to asylum to resettlement. In these pages, a couple fall in love over the phone, and women gather to prepare the noodles that remind them of home. A closeted queer man tries to make his case truthfully as he seeks asylum, and a translator attempts to help new arrivals present their stories to officials.

Nayeri confronts notions like “the swarm,” and, on the other hand, “good” immigrants. She calls attention to the harmful way in which Western governments privilege certain dangers over others. With surprising and provocative questions, The Ungrateful Refugee challenges us to rethink how we talk about the refugee crisis.


December 6, 2019 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 5, 2019

From the Bookshelves: They Came to Toil: Newspaper Representations of Mexicans and Immigrants in the Great Depression by Melita M. Garza

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They Came to Toil: Newspaper Representations of Mexicans and Immigrants in the Great Depression by Melita M. Garza (University of Texas Press, 2019).

The Mexican repatriation of the Great Depression is an under-analyzed period in U.S. history.  As the Great Depression gripped the United States in the early 1930s, the Hoover administration sought to preserve jobs for Anglo-Americans by targeting Mexicans, including long-time residents and even US citizens, for deportation. Mexicans comprised more than 46 percent of all people deported between 1930 and 1939, despite being only 1 percent of the US population. In all, about half a million people of Mexican descent were deported to Mexico, a "homeland" many of them had never seen, or returned voluntarily in fear of deportation.

They Came to Toil investigates how the news reporting of this episode in immigration history created frames for representing Mexicans and immigrants that persist to the present. Melita M. Garza sets the story in San Antonio, a city central to the formation of Mexican American identity, and contrasts how the city's three daily newspapers covered the forced deportations of Mexicans. She shows that the Spanish-language La Prensa not surprisingly provided the fullest and most sympathetic coverage of immigration issues, while the locally owned San Antonio Express and the Hearst chain-owned San Antonio Light varied between supporting Mexican labor and demonizing it. Garza analyzes how these media narratives, particularly in the English-language press, contributed to the racial "othering" of Mexicans and Mexican Americans. Adding an important new chapter to the history of the Long Civil Rights Movement, They Came to Toil brings needed historical context to immigration issues that dominate today's headlines.


December 5, 2019 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

From the Bookshelves: Perchance to DREAM: A Legal and Political History of the DREAM Act and DACA by Michael A. Olivas


Perchance to DREAM: A Legal and Political History of the DREAM Act and DACA by Michael A. Olivas .  With a foreword by former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.  To be published in June 2020.

The first comprehensive history of the DREAM Act and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

In 1982, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Plyler v. Doe that undocumented children had the right to attend public schools without charge or impediment, regardless of their immigration status. The ruling raised a question: what if undocumented students, after graduating from the public school system, wanted to attend college?

Perchance to DREAM is the first comprehensive history of the DREAM Act, which made its initial congressional appearance in 2001, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the discretionary program established by President Obama in 2012 out of Congressional failure to enact comprehensive immigration reform. Michael A. Olivas relates the history of the DREAM Act and DACA over the course of two decades.

With the Trump Administration challenging the legality of DACA and pursuing its elimination in 2017, the fate of DACA is uncertain. Perchance to DREAM follows the political participation of DREAMers, who have been taken hostage as pawns in a cruel game as the White House continues to advocate anti-immigrant policies. Perchance to DREAM brings to light the many twists and turns that the legislation has taken, suggests why it has not gained the required traction, and offers hopeful pathways that could turn this darkness to dawn.


Professor Olivas is a rock 'n roll junkie so perhaps he will like this Bruce Springsteen tune.  The title of his book brought it to my mind.



December 3, 2019 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández: Abolish Immigration Prisons


 César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández in an op/ed in the New York Times ("Abolish Immigration Prisons") calls for the end of immigration detention:  "We should shut down these institutions, end the suffering they cause and redirect the money."  The op-ed hits key points raised in his book, Migrating to Prison: America’s Obsession with Locking Up Immigrants (The New Press), which is being released today.


December 3, 2019 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 29, 2019

From the Bookshelves: Open: The Progressive Case for Free Trade, Immigration, and Global Capital by Kimberly Clausing


Open:  The Progressive Case for Free Trade, Immigration, and Global Capital by Kimberly Clausing

With the winds of trade war blowing as they have not done in decades, and Left and Right flirting with protectionism, a leading economist forcefully shows how a free and open economy is still the best way to advance the interests of working Americans.

Globalization has a bad name. Critics on the Left have long attacked it for exploiting the poor and undermining labor. Today, the Right challenges globalization for tilting the field against advanced economies. Kimberly Clausing faces down the critics from both sides, demonstrating in this vivid and compelling account that open economies are a force for good, not least in helping the most vulnerable.

A leading authority on corporate taxation and an advocate of a more equal economy, Clausing agrees that Americans, especially those with middle and lower incomes, face stark economic challenges. But these problems do not require us to retreat from the global economy. On the contrary, she shows, an open economy overwhelmingly helps. International trade makes countries richer, raises living standards, benefits consumers, and brings nations together. Global capital mobility helps both borrowers and lenders. International business improves efficiency and fosters innovation. And immigration remains one of America’s greatest strengths, as newcomers play an essential role in economic growth, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Closing the door to the benefits of an open economy would cause untold damage. Instead, Clausing outlines a progressive agenda to manage globalization more effectively, presenting strategies to equip workers for a modern economy, improve tax policy, and establish a better partnership between labor and the business community.

Accessible, rigorous, and passionate, Open is the book we need to help us navigate the debates currently convulsing national and international economics and politics.


November 29, 2019 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Professor Tom Wong Announces Bid for 53rd Congressional District (San Diego, Californa)


University of California San Diego associate political science professor Tom Wong today announced his intent to seek the 53rd Congressional District seat, joining a number of Democratic candidates running to succeed Rep. Susan Davis, D-San Diego.  Wong seeks to become the first formerly undocumented Asian American and Pacific Islander member of Congress.

Wong and his family came to the United States from Hong Kong when he was 2 years old. Wong, who served as an adviser to former President Barack Obama’s White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in 2016, said he would seek to uplift the roles of science and research and champion immigration reform as a congressman. “I’m running for Congress because I still believe in the American dream,” he said. “I’m running to ensure that the opportunities that I had are available to others — from immigrants and refugees to working-class families trying to put food on their tables — who, if just given a shot, can live out their own American dreams.”

Tom K. Wong is an associate professor of political science. His research focuses on the politics of immigration, citizenship, and migrant "illegality." His work also explores the links between immigration, race and ethnicity, and the politics of identity.  His first book, Rights, Deportation, and Detention in the Age of Immigration Control (Stanford University Press, 2015), analyzes the immigration control policies of 25 Western immigrant-receiving democracies. In analyzing over 30,000 roll call votes on immigration-related legislation in Congress since 2005, his second book, The Politics of Immigration: Partisanship, Demographic Change, and American National Identity (Oxford University Press, 2016), represents the most comprehensive analysis to date on the contemporary politics of immigration in the United States.


November 20, 2019 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison by Behrouz Boochani


No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison by Behrouz Boochani (2019)

“Our government jailed his body, but his soul remained that of a free man.” ― From the Foreword by Man Booker Prize–winning author Richard Flanagan

In 2013, Kurdish-Iranian journalist Behrouz Boochani was illegally detained on Manus Island, a refugee detention centre off the coast of Australia.

He has been there ever since.

This book is the result. Laboriously tapped out on a mobile phone and translated from the Farsi.

It is a voice of witness, an act of survival. A lyric first-hand account. A cry of resistance. A vivid portrait of five years of incarceration and exile.

Winner of the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Literature, Australia’s richest literary prize, No Friend But the Mountains is an extraordinary account ― one that is disturbingly representative of the experience of the many stateless and imprisoned refugees and migrants around the world.

Masha Gessen in the New Yorker reviews the book.


November 20, 2019 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)