Sunday, October 25, 2020

From the Bookshelves: Unforgetting: A Memoir of Family, Migration, Gangs, and Revolution in the Americas by Roberto Lovato


Unforgetting: A Memoir of Family, Migration, Gangs, and Revolution in the Americas by Roberto Lovato

Here is the publisher's descriptoion of the book:

"An urgent, no-holds-barred tale of gang life, guerrilla warfare, intergenerational trauma, and interconnected violence between the United States and El Salvador, Roberto Lovato’s memoir excavates family history and reveals the intimate stories beneath headlines about gang violence and mass Central American migration, one of the most important, yet least-understood humanitarian crises of our time—and one in which the perspectives of Central Americans in the United States have been silenced and forgotten. 

 The child of Salvadoran immigrants, Roberto Lovato grew up in 1970s and 80s San Francisco as MS-13 and other notorious Salvadoran gangs were forming in California. In his teens, he lost friends to the escalating violence, and survived acts of brutality himself. He eventually traded the violence of the streets for human rights advocacy in wartime El Salvador where he joined the guerilla movement against the U.S.-backed, fascist military government responsible for some of the most barbaric massacres and crimes against humanity in recent history. 

Roberto returned from war-torn El Salvador to find the United States on the verge of unprecedented crises of its own. There, he channeled his own pain into activism and journalism, focusing his attention on how trauma affects individual lives and societies, and began the difficult journey of confronting the roots of his own trauma. As a child, Roberto endured a tumultuous relationship with his father Ramón. Raised in extreme poverty in the countryside of El Salvador during one of the most violent periods of its history, Ramón learned to survive by straddling intersecting underworlds of family secrets, traumatic silences, and dealing in black-market goods and guns. The repression of the violence in his life took its toll, however. Ramón was plagued with silences and fits of anger that had a profound impact on his youngest son, and which Roberto attributes as a source of constant reckoning with the violence and rebellion in his own life.

In Unforgetting, Roberto interweaves his father’s complicated history and his own with first-hand reportage on gang life, state violence, and the heart of the immigration crisis in both El Salvador and the United States. In doing so he makes the political personal, revealing the cyclical ways violence operates in our homes and our societies, as well as the ways hope and tenderness can rise up out of the darkness if we are courageous enough to unforget."

Dorany Pineda talks with Lovato about the book in this article.


October 25, 2020 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 23, 2020

YLS Book Talk from Deborah Kang

Today Friday, October 23 at 12pm EST, the @Yale Center for the Study of Representative Institutions will be hosting CSU historian @kangborderlaw to discuss her book The INS on the Line: Making Immigration Law on the US-Mexico Border, 1917-1954 (Oxford University Press 2017). Yale Law School Professor Cristina Rodríguez @cmrodriguez95, CUNY Professor and Herb Kurz Chair in Constitutional Rights in Political Science Anna Law @UnlawfulEntries, and Yale historian Brendan Shanahan will also be participating in the discussion.

The book has won many awards:
  • Winner of the 2018 Theodore Saloutos Book Award of the Immigration and Ethnic History Society
  • Winner of the 2018 Henry Adams Prize of the Society for the History of the Federal Government
  • Winner of the 2017 Berkshire Conference of Women Historians Book Prize
  • Winner of the 2018 W. Turrentine Jackson Award of the Western History Association
  • Winner of the 2018 Americo Paredes Book Award for Nonfiction
  • Finalist, 2018 Weber-Clements Book Prize of the Western History Association

Contact to RSVP.


October 23, 2020 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Discussing Ming Hsu Chen's Book Pursuing Citizenship [UPDATED]


October 28, 2020, Pursuing Citizenship with Professor Ming Hsu Chen Associate Professor at the University of Colorado in Boulder, 4:30pm - 6:00pm EDT

Check out this event on the book Pursuing Citizenship with ImmigrationProf blogger and Professor Ming Hsu Chen with commentary from Rutgers Professors Rose Cuison Villazor and Domingo Morel.

DU Crimmigration 10-26-2020
UPDATE: On Monday October 26 (4-5pm MT, 6-7pm ET) you can hear a different angle on the book at an event about hosted by the University of Denver Sturm College of Law professor Cesar Garcia Hernanedez. "Welcome Strangers, Building Community -- A Conversation about Hospitality and Citizenship" will feature Professor Chen discussing Pursuing Citizenship in the Enforcement Era and Sarah Jackson, the Executive Director of Casa de Paz in Boulder and author of The House That Love Built

October 23, 2020 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Family Separations Continue In South Texas, Years After They Allegedly Ended

A new report released yesterday by the Texas Civil Rights Project documents that family separation continues to occur along the U.S. border with Mexico. As the report explains, these separations are "the direct result of the Trump Administration’s Zero Tolerance policy, which called for the criminal prosecution of 100 percent of people who crossed the southern border without authorization." Notably, the report reveals a "vast discrepancy between actual separations and what the federal government has reported."

The report contains a number of important findings. For example, they have tracked the separations families in McAllen, Texas in the below table:

October 22, 2020 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

COVID-19 Impacts on Immigration Detention: Global Responses

The International Detention Coalition (IDC) and the Humanitarian and Development Research Initiative (HADRI) have collaborated to produce an important new report on COVID-19 Impacts on Immigration Detention: Global Responses.

The report tracks the how the pandemic has impacted individuals in detention and changed global detention policy. In some locations, according to the contributions in the report, the pandemic has strengthened the rights of noncitizens held in detention. However, in other locations, there has been an increase in punitive treatment of and discrimination against refugee, undocumented migrant, and stateless communities.

Contributions to the volume include countries all around the world, including Spain, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Tunisia, and many more.


October 22, 2020 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 16, 2020

Immigration Article of the Day: Legally White, Socially Brown: Racialization of Middle Eastern Americans by Sahar Aziz


Legally White, Socially Brown: Racialization of Middle Eastern Americans by Sahar Aziz in Routledge Handbook on Islam and Race (ed. Zain Abdullah), Forthcoming


What are you – Black, White, Mexican? This is a frequent question posed to people of Middle Eastern and North African ancestry. For new immigrants, the question is confounding because these categories are not in their lexicon on identity. Instead, a person’s family name, tribe, neighborhood in a city, village, or clan situate them in their home country’s social hierarchies.

In America, however, they soon discover that race is the master category for identity formation. It does not take long for new immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa to learn that being White presents privilege, opportunity, and dignity, whereas being Black leads to a litany of subjugation, indignities, and inequities in the United States. Whatever confusion they may have about how to respond to the race question, their first application for work or school dictates the answer: “White” includes persons having origins in Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa. But their legal race does not always mirror their social, lived race.


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

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Webinar on Beth Caldwell's Deported Americans: Life After Deportation to Mexico.

Law Review 2020 Blog_0

October 16, 2020

1:00 P.M. - 3:30 P.M.

2.5 Hours CLE


This webinar will highlight some of the topics and themes discussed in Beth Caldwell's Deported Americans: Life After Deportation to Mexico. They include the immigration deportation process and its deficiencies; the social and economic realities these deportees face in Mexico; the detrimental effect on marriages and separated families; and, lastly, the proposed reevaluation and reform of the immigration system in the United States.

The webinar will feature immigration professors and scholars.  The papers presented will be published in issue two of the 50th volume of the Southwestern Law Review.  

Here are the speakers.  I am pleased to be among the speakers as is another ImmigrationProf blogger Ingrid Eagly.


October 14, 2020 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Citizenship in the Enforcement Era: A Policy Discussion

NPNA panel 10-14-2020

The New Americans Campaign will be hosting a policy discussion titled "Citizenship in the Enforcement Era" on Wed Oct 14, 2020 (12pm PT/1pm MT/2pm CT/3pm ET).  The discussion is inspired by my book, Pursuing Citizenship  in the Enforcement Era (Stanford Press 2020), and it will include policy analysis from think tanks and legal advocacy groups. Randy Capps will share findings from a survey on naturalization procedures conducted by the Migration Policy Institute and reported in A Rockier Road to Citizenship? report. A representative of Coalition for Humane Immigrants Rights (CHRLA) and CASA will discuss their successful campaign to enjoin the USCIS fee hikes that would have nearly doubled naturalization fees (the federal court injunction is here) and eliminated most fee waivers. Former USCIS Chief Counsel and DHS Watch leader Ur Jaddou will join as well. [UPDATED SPEAKERS 10/13/20]

The conversation will be moderated by Nicole Melaku, Executive Director for the National Partnership for New Americans. Register on FacebookLive.


October 13, 2020 in Books, Conferences and Call for Papers, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Immigration scholar Natalia Molina wins 2020 Macarthur Fellowship

USC professor Natalia Molina has been selected for the 2020 Macarthur (Genius) Fellowship. Professor Molina is a Professor of American Studies and the author of two award winning books. Her first book, Fit to be Citizens? Public Health and Race in Los Angeles, 1879-1939 demonstrates how both science and public health shaped the meaning of race in the early twentieth century. In that work, which garnered an American Historical Association-PCB book prize, she argues that race must be understood relationally in order to see how the laws, practices, and attitudes directed at one racial group affected others. How Race is Made in America examines Mexican Americans—from 1924, when American law drastically reduced immigration into the United States, to 1965, when many quotas were abolished—to understand how broad themes of race and citizenship are constructed. These years shaped the emergence of what Natalia Molina describes as an immigration regime, which defined the racial categories that continue to influence perceptions in the United States about Mexican Americans, race, and ethnicity.

The full list of Macarthur Fellows is here. They are impressive for their sheer talent and diversity of life experiences and professions!



October 6, 2020 in Books, Jobs and Fellowships | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 5, 2020

From The Bookshelves: Letters from Cuba by Ruth Behar


Letters from Cuba is a new YA novel from writer, anthropology professor, and MacArthur Genius Grantee Ruth Behar.

Here's the publisher's description:

The situation is getting dire for Jews in Poland on the eve of World War II. Esther's father has fled to Cuba, and she is the first one to join him. It's heartbreaking to be separated from her beloved sister, so Esther promises to write down everything that happens until they're reunited. And she does, recording both the good--the kindness of the Cuban people and her discovery of a valuable hidden talent--and the bad: the fact that Nazism has found a foothold even in Cuba. Esther's evocative letters are full of her appreciation for life and reveal a resourceful, determined girl with a rare ability to bring people together, all the while striving to get the rest of their family out of Poland before it's too late.

Based on Ruth Behar's family history, this compelling story celebrates the resilience of the human spirit in the most challenging times.

JewishBoston has a lovely Q&A with the author about her new work. Behar talks about her writing, what drew her to this topic, and Jewish Latinx identity.


October 5, 2020 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 3, 2020

From The Bookshelves--The Good Immigrant: 26 Writers Reflect on America


The Good Immigrant: 26 Writers Reflect on America is a book edited by Nikesh Shukla and Chimene Suleyman. The Washington Post calls it a "banquet of writing [that] is a triumphant celebration of American multiplicity."

Here's the publisher's take:

From Trump’s proposed border wall and travel ban to the marching of white supremacists in Charlottesville, America is consumed by tensions over immigration and the question of which bodies are welcome. In this much-anticipated follow-up to the bestselling UK edition, hailed by Zadie Smith as “lively and vital,” editors Nikesh Shukla and Chimene Suleyman hand the microphone to an incredible range of writers whose humanity and right to be here is under attack.
  • Chigozie Obioma unpacks an Igbo proverb that helped him navigate his journey to America from Nigeria.
  • Jenny Zhang analyzes cultural appropriation in 90s fashion, recalling her own pain and confusion as a teenager trying to fit in.
  • Fatimah Asghar describes the flood of memory and emotion triggered by an encounter with an Uber driver from Kashmir.
  • Alexander Chee writes of a visit to Korea that changed his relationship to his heritage.

These writers, and the many others in this urgent collection, share powerful personal stories of living between cultures and languages while struggling to figure out who they are and where they belong.


October 3, 2020 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

From the Bookshelves: Inventing Latinos:  A New Story of American Racism by Laura E. Gómez

A timely and groundbreaking argument that all Americans must grapple with Latinos’ dynamic racial identity—because it impacts everything we think we know about race in America

Latinos have long influenced everything from electoral politics to popular culture, yet many people instinctively regard them as recent immigrants rather than a longstanding racial group. In Inventing Latinos, Laura Gómez, a leading expert on race, law, and society, illuminates the fascinating race-making, unmaking, and re-making of Latino identity that has spanned centuries, leaving a permanent imprint on how race operates in the United States today.

Pulling back the lens as the country approaches an unprecedented demographic shift (Latinos will comprise a third of the American population in a matter of decades), Gómez also reveals the nefarious roles the United States has played in Latin America—from military interventions and economic exploitation to political interference—that, taken together, have destabilized national economies to send migrants northward over the course of more than a century. It’s no coincidence that the vast majority of Latinos migrate from the places most impacted by this nation’s dirty deeds, leading Gómez to a bold call for reparations.

In this audacious effort to reframe the often-confused and misrepresented discourse over the Latinx generation, Gómez provides essential context for today’s most pressing political and public debates—representation, voice, interpretation, and power—giving all of us a brilliant framework to engage cultural controversies, elections, current events, and more.


September 30, 2020 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Dare to Dream Book Discussions: The Dispossessed

The Dare to Dream Project has teamed up with Busboys and Poets to host a book series about immigration topics.  The books that have been selected tell stories about people who are effected by America’s broken immigration system. These are not policy or academic reads: they focus is on personal narratives.  A different book and talk with the author will happen the 3rd Thursday of every month. A full list appears here.

This month's discussion will focus on John Washington's The Dispossessed: A Story of Asylum at the US-Mexican Border and Beyond and take place on September 24. It will be moderated by Noah Habeeb. Register here.



September 22, 2020 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 19, 2020



Now in its fifth year, the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing supports the voices of immigrant writers whose works straddle cultural divides, embrace the multicultural makeup of our society, and interrogate questions of identity in a global society. At a time when borders are physically closed due to a global pandemic, draconian immigration laws are being passed, and xenophobic and racist rhetoric pervades the media, we are more determined than ever to amplify and celebrate the stories and experiences of immigrant authors. This prize awards $10,000 and publication with Restless Books to a writer who has produced a work that addresses the effects of global migration on identity. The prize-winning books alternate between fiction and nonfiction every year; the 2020 prize will be for fiction.

This year’s judges have carefully selected five finalists from one of our largest pool of submissions to date. We are grateful for the deliberation of our three judges and extend a heartfelt thanks to all of the applicants who shared their work with us this year. 

Here is the 2020 short list for the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing.  Each book should be worthy reading in the time of the pandemic.


September 19, 2020 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

From the Bookshelves: One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger by Matthew Yglesias


One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger by Matthew Yglesias (2020)

The publisher's description of the book:

"What would actually make America great: more people.
If the most challenging crisis in living memory has shown us anything, it’s that America has lost the will and the means to lead. We can’t compete with the huge population clusters of the global marketplace by keeping our population static or letting it diminish, or with our crumbling transit and unaffordable housing. The winner in the future world is going to have more—more ideas, more ambition, more utilization of resources, more people. 
Exactly how many Americans do we need to win? According to Matthew Yglesias, one billion.
From one of our foremost policy writers, One Billion Americans is the provocative yet logical argument that if we aren’t moving forward, we’re losing. Vox founder Yglesias invites us to think bigger, while taking the problems of decline seriously. What really contributes to national prosperity should not be controversial: supporting parents and children, welcoming immigrants and their contributions, and exploring creative policies that support growth—like more housing, better transportation, improved education, revitalized welfare, and climate change mitigation. Drawing on examples and solutions from around the world, Yglesias shows not only that we can do this, but why we must. 
Making the case for massive population growth with analytic rigor and imagination, One Billion Americans issues a radical but undeniable challenge: Why not do it all, and stay on top forever?"

Matthew Yglesias is the co-founder and senior correspondent for Vox. He also hosts the political podcast “The Weeds” and is a regular contributor to NPR's All Things Considered. Prior to Vox, he was a columnist for Slate, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and wrote for The American Prospect and The Atlantic. A New York City native, he currently lives in Washington, DC.

Bryan Walsh for Axios summarizes the argument in One Billion.


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

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

From the Bookshelves: Threat of Dissent: A History of Ideological Exclusion and Deportation in the United States by Julia Rose Kraut


Threat of Dissent A History of Ideological Exclusion and Deportation in the United States by Julia Rose Kraut

In this first comprehensive overview of the intersection of immigration law and the First Amendment, a lawyer and historian traces ideological exclusion and deportation in the United States from the Alien Friends Act of 1798 to the evolving policies of the Trump administration.

Beginning with the Alien Friends Act of 1798, the United States passed laws in the name of national security to bar or expel foreigners based on their beliefs and associations—although these laws sometimes conflict with First Amendment protections of freedom of speech and association or contradict America’s self-image as a nation of immigrants. The government has continually used ideological exclusions and deportations of noncitizens to suppress dissent and radicalism throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, from the War on Anarchy to the Cold War to the War on Terror.

In Threat of Dissent—the first social, political, and legal history of ideological exclusion and deportation in the United States—Julia Rose Kraut delves into the intricacies of major court decisions and legislation without losing sight of the people involved. We follow the cases of immigrants and foreign-born visitors, including activists, scholars, and artists such as Emma Goldman, Ernest Mandel, Carlos Fuentes, Charlie Chaplin, and John Lennon. Kraut also highlights lawyers, including Clarence Darrow and Carol Weiss King, as well as organizations, like the ACLU and PEN America, who challenged the constitutionality of ideological exclusions and deportations under the First Amendment. The Supreme Court, however, frequently interpreted restrictions under immigration law and upheld the government’s authority.

By reminding us of the legal vulnerability foreigners face on the basis of their beliefs, expressions, and associations, Kraut calls our attention to the ways that ideological exclusion and deportation reflect fears of subversion and serve as tools of political repression in the United States.

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

Friday, September 11, 2020

From The Bookshelves: Homeland Eligies by Ayad Akhtar


Homeland Eligies is the latest novel from author Ayad Akhtar (of American Dervish fame). Interestingly, given today's anniversary, it's a book where the aftereffects of 9/11 play a significant role.

Here's the publisher's description:

A deeply personal work about identity and belonging in a nation coming apart at the seams, Homeland Elegies blends fact and fiction to tell an epic story of longing and dispossession in the world that 9/11 made. Part family drama, part social essay, part picaresque novel, at its heart it is the story of a father, a son, and the country they both call home.

Ayad Akhtar forges a new narrative voice to capture a country in which debt has ruined countless lives and the gods of finance rule, where immigrants live in fear, and where the nation's unhealed wounds wreak havoc around the world. Akhtar attempts to make sense of it all through the lens of a story about one family, from a heartland town in America to palatial suites in Central Europe to guerrilla lookouts in the mountains of Afghanistan, and spares no one -- least of all himself -- in the process.


September 11, 2020 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

From the Bookshelves: Family in Six Tones: A Refugee Mother, an American Daughter by Lan Cao & Harlan Margaret Van Cao

Family in Six Tones: A Refugee Mother, an American Daughter by Lan Cao & Harlan Margaret Van Cao

Family in Six Tones
A dual first-person memoir by the acclaimed Vietnamese-American novelist and her thoroughly American teenage daughter--exploring their complicated relationship and touching on war and past tragedy, culture clash and bullying, and growing up both as individuals and as a family.

After more than forty years in the United States, Lan Cao still feels tentative about her place in her adoptive country, one which she came to as a thirteen-year old refugee. And after sixteen years of being a mother, she still ventures through motherhood as if it is a foreign landscape. In this lyrical memoir, Lan explores these two defining experiences of her life with the help of her fierce, independently-minded daughter, Harlan Margaret Van Cao.

In short chapters that both reflect and refract her mother's narrative, Harlan describes the rites of passage of childhood and adolescence, as they are filtered through the aftereffects of her family's history of war and migration. Lan responds in turn, revealing her struggles to understand her American daughter. In this unique format of alternating storytelling, their complicated mother-daughter relationship begins to crystallize. Lan's struggles with the traumatic aftermath of war--punctuated by emotional, detailed flashbacks to her childhood--become operatic and fantastical interludes as told by her daughter. Harlan's struggle to make friends in high school challenges her mother to step back and let her daughter find her own way. 

Family in Six Tones is at once special and universal, speaking to the unique struggles of refugees as well as the universal tug-of-war between mothers and daughters. The journey of a refugee--away from war and loss towards peace and a new life--and the journey of a mother raising a child--to be secure and happy--are both steep paths filled with detours and stumbling blocks. Through explosive fights and painful setbacks, mother and daughter search for a way to accept the past and face the future together.

September 8, 2020 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

From The Bookshelves: Conditional Citizens: On Belonging in America by Laila Lalami


Laila Lalami's newest book, Conditional Citizens: On Belonging in America, is not quite on the bookshelves yet. It's available for pre-order, with an official release date of September 22.

Here's the official description:

What does it mean to be American? In this starkly illuminating and impassioned book, Pulitzer Prize­­–finalist Laila Lalami recounts her unlikely journey from Moroccan immigrant to U.S. citizen, using it as a starting point for her exploration of the rights, liberties, and protections that are traditionally associated with American citizenship. Tapping into history, politics, and literature, she elucidates how accidents of birth—such as national origin, race, and gender—that once determined the boundaries of Americanness still their shadows today.

Lalami poignantly illustrates how white supremacy survives through adaptation and legislation, with the result that a caste system is maintained that keeps the modern equivalent of white male landowners at the top of the social hierarchy. Conditional citizens, she argues, are all the people with whom America embraces with one arm and pushes away with the other.

Brilliantly argued and deeply personal, Conditional Citizens weaves together Lalami’s own experiences with explorations of the place of nonwhites in the broader American culture.


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

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Reasons We Scapegoat Others During Disease on NPR's Goats and Soda

The scapegoating of immigrants and others that has worsened the pain of the pandemic has a long history.  NPR's Goats and Soda weaves together several scholarly theories to descrbe and explain the history of scapegoating during public health outbreaks. They point out that Jews were blamed when Christian mobs during the Bubonic plague and that immigrants ot the US from Ireland, Italy, and China have been variously faulted for polio, cholera and other diseases. 

First comes the disease.

Then the scapegoating. 

This bias occurs around the world.

And it's not anything new.

Many  examples come from Debora MacKenzie, author of the new book Covid-19: The Pandemic That Should Never Have Happened and How to Stop the Next One.  Tahseen Shams, assistant professor of sociology at University of Toronto and author of Here, There, and Elsewhere: The Making of Immigrant Identities in a Globalized World provides other examples specifically conjuring immigrants include Haitian immigrants blamed for AIDS, African immigrants blamed for Ebola, and Chinese immigrants blamed for SARS and now COVID-19.

NPR turns to Mark Schaller, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, for the evolutionary impulse behind othering; Schaller says that aversion to unfamiliar outsiders is an instinctual, unconscious response to avoid the risk of infection, and that it forms part of the behavioral immune system -- a kind of psychological parallel to the physical immune system.

It's a fascinating read or listen.


September 1, 2020 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)