Monday, September 16, 2019

From the Bookshelves: Separated: Family and Community in the Aftermath of an Immigration Raid by William D. Lopez


Separated: Family and Community in the Aftermath of an Immigration Raid by William D. Lopez

On a Thursday in November of 2013, Guadalupe Morales waited anxiously with her sister-in-law and their four small children. Every Latino man who drove away from their shared apartment above a small auto repair shop that day had failed to return―arrested, one by one, by ICE agents and local police. As the two women discussed what to do next, a SWAT team clad in body armor and carrying assault rifles stormed the room. As Guadalupe remembers it, "The soldiers came in the house. They knocked down doors. They threw gas. They had guns. We were two women with small children... The kids terrified, the kids screaming."

In Separated, William D. Lopez examines the lasting damage done by this daylong act of collaborative immigration enforcement in Washtenaw County, Michigan. Exploring the chaos of enforcement through the lens of community health, Lopez discusses deportation's rippling negative effects on families, communities, and individuals. Focusing on those left behind, Lopez reveals their efforts to cope with trauma, avoid homelessness, handle worsening health, and keep their families together as they attempt to deal with a deportation machine that is militarized, traumatic, implicitly racist, and profoundly violent.

Lopez uses this single home raid to show what immigration law enforcement looks like from the perspective of the people who actually experience it. Drawing on in-depth interviews with twenty-four individuals whose lives were changed that day in 2013, as well as field notes, records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, and his own experience as an activist, Lopez combines rigorous research with narrative storytelling. Putting faces and names to the numbers behind deportation statistics, Separated urges readers to move beyond sound bites and consider the human experience of mixed-status communities in the small everyday towns that dot the interior of the United States.


September 16, 2019 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

More Than A Wall:  Corporate Profiteering and the Militarization of US borders


In More Than A Wall:  Corporate Profiteering and the Militarization of US Borders, Todd Miller examines the role of the world’s largest arms (as well as a  number of other security and IT) firms in shaping and profiting from the militarization of US borders. Through their campaign contributions,  lobbying, constant engagement with government officials, and the revolving door between industry and government, these border security corporations and their government allies have formed powerful border–industrial complex that is a major impediment  to a humane response to migration.

Here is the "Executive Summary":

US President Donald Trump’s obsession with ‘building a wall’ on the US- Mexico border has both distorted and obscured public debate on border control. This is not just because there is already a physical wall – 650 miles of it – but because Trump’s theatrics and the Democrats’ opposition to his plans have given the impression that the Trump administration is forging a new direction on border control. A closer look at border policy over the last decades, however, shows that Trump is ratcheting up – and ultimately consolidating – a long-standing US approach to border control.

This report looks at the history of US border control and the strong political consensus – both Republican and Democrat – in support of border militarization that long pre-dates the Trump administration. It shows how this political consensus has been forged to a significant degree by the world’s largest arms (as well as a number of other security and IT) corporations that have made massive profits from the exponential growth of government budgets for border control. Through their campaign contributions, lobbying, constant engagement with government officials, and the revolving door between industry and government, these security corporations and their government allies have formed a powerful border–industrial complex. The evidence shows that it is these corporations – and their role in border infrastructure and policies – that have led to a predominantly militarized response to migration and thereby become the single biggest impediment to a humane response to migration.

Miller is also author of the books Border Patrol Nation and Storming the Wall: Climate Change, Migration, and Homeland Security.


September 16, 2019 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 12, 2019

From the Bookshelves: The Fixer:  Visa Lottery Chronicles by Charles Piot with Kodjo Nicolas Batema


The Fixer:  Visa Lottery Chronicles by Charles Piot with Kodjo Nicolas Batema

In the West African nation of Togo, applying for the U.S. Diversity Visa Lottery is a national obsession, with hundreds of thousands of Togolese entering each year. From the street frenzy of the lottery sign-up period and the scramble to raise money for the embassy interview to the gamesmanship of those adding spouses and dependents to their dossiers, the application process is complicated, expensive, and unpredictable. In The Fixer Charles Piot follows Kodjo Nicolas Batema, a Togolese visa broker—known as a “fixer”—as he shepherds his clients through the application and interview process. Relaying the experiences of the fixer, his clients, and embassy officials, Piot captures the ever-evolving cat-and-mouse game between the embassy and the hopeful Togolese as well as the disappointments and successes of lottery winners in the United States. These detailed and compelling stories uniquely illustrate the desire and savviness of migrants as they work to find what they hope will be a better life.

Hat tip to Alan Hyde!


September 12, 2019 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

From the Bookshelves: Who Let the Mexicans Play in the Rose Bowl: Navigating the Racial Landscape of America by Hank Olguin

Rose bowl

This truly is a fun book about  racial identity.

A Memoir With a Fresh Perspective

"… a spell-binding account…an insightful, often humorous look at the twists and turns of being of Mexican ancestry in the modern United States…required reading for anyone interested in an analysis of Latino identity…" —Kevin R. Johnson, Dean, UC Davis School of Law—Author of How Did You Get to Be Mexican?—A White/Brown Man’s Search for Racial Identity

Award-winning, former advertising executive and creative director, Hank Olguin, not only talks about the thrill of playing in the 1959 Rose Bowl for the California Golden Bears, he also provides a unique account of growing up and growing old as a Mexican American. 

In a journey spanning more than eighty years, Olguin describes the road to becoming a successful college athlete and an advocate for changing the negative images of Mexicans and other Latinos and Latinas.

This genuine American story will appeal to all Hispanics and Latinx, who are tired of being stereotyped, demeaned, or ignored by the entertainment and news media and to non-Hispanics who want to learn more about cultural diversity, race relations, and multiculturalism issues.  Here’s the link.


September 10, 2019 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Lawyering – Reverberations from One Chicano’s Radical Vision: Call for Papers or Panel Topics


Gerald P. López published Rebellious Lawyering: One Chicano’s Vision of Progressive Law Practice in 1992 and for three decades the book has reverberated—challenging the color-blind, experts-rule approach of conventional “public interest” practice, providing a blueprint for fundamental changes to clinical and all of legal education, and triggering scholarly and professional debate about what constitutes rebellious and regnant lawyering. Race, racism, and anti-racism are at the center of López’s vision, and UCLA Law’s Critical Race Studies program (CRS) is honored to devote its 20th anniversary symposium March 12-13, 2020 to looking at rebellious lawyering past, present and future.

We invite submissions of abstracts for new (unpublished) work or for possible topics for symposium panels by September 30, 2019. Topics for new written work and for panel topics might include (but are in no way limited to) variations on the following themes:

• How Rebellious Lawyering has traveled across disciplines and problem-solving practices and what has been gained or lost in the process;

• Why the centrality of race has slipped away from some adaptations of the vision of practice described and evoked in Rebellious Lawyering;

• What the practice of Rebellious Lawyering looks like in majority white institutions – and, of equal importance, within institutions of color;

• How Rebellious Lawyering helps us think about bias in the legal profession (from admission to law school to bar passage to practice) and the ways to eliminate it;

• The challenges of making durable change in institutions, whether those serving communities, law schools, universities, political bodies;

• How and why Rebellious Lawyering has been resisted by law school clinicians and some attorneys who work with communities who need it most;

• How Rebellious Lawyering has traveled across the globe (with trainings and conferences in Scotland, Northern England, India, Ireland, Italy, Australia, among others);

• How Rebellious Lawyering has shaped specific areas of legal practice.

Please note that there is a one proposal limit per person. Your proposal for a paper must include: title(s), presenter, any affiliations of the presenter, current email and phone number for the person submitting, along with the resume/c.v. for the presenter of no more than two (2) pages, along with an Abstract of the proposed paper(s). Your proposal for a panel topic must include a description of the theme(s), the current or emerging importance of the topic, and some illustration of how communities and practitioners are now dealing with these challenges. For a single paper submission, the abstract should not exceed 250 words; for a panel topic submission, the abstract should not exceed 500 words. Please note that panels will last ninety minutes, and symposium organizers shall include no more than four panelists and one moderator per panel.

The deadline for submission is September 30, 2019. Materials must be submitted via email to with the subject line CRS SYMPOSIUM PROPOSAL. If your proposal is selected, you will be notified by November 1, 2019.


September 4, 2019 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: The King of Adobe: Reies López Tijerina: Lost Prophet of the Chicano Movement by Lorena Oropeza


The King of Adobe: Reies López Tijerina, Lost Prophet of the Chicano Movement by Lorena Oropeza

In 1967, Reies López Tijerina led an armed takeover of a New Mexico courthouse in the name of land rights for disenfranchised Spanish-speaking locals. The small-scale raid surprisingly thrust Tijerina and his cause into the national spotlight, catalyzing an entire generation of activists. The actions of Tijerina and his group, the Alianza Federal de Mercedes (the Federal Alliance of Land Grants), demanded that Americans attend to an overlooked part of the country’s history: the United States was an aggressive empire that had conquered and colonized the Southwest and subsequently wrenched land away from border people—Mexicans and Native Americans alike. To many young Mexican American activists at the time, Tijerina and the Alianza offered a compelling and militant alternative to the nonviolence of Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King Jr. Tijerina's place at the table among the nation’s leading civil rights activists was short-lived, but his analysis of land dispossession and his prophetic zeal for the rights of his people was essential to the creation of the Chicano movement.

This fascinating full biography of Tijerina (1926–2015) offers a fresh and unvarnished look at one of the most controversial, criticized, and misunderstood activists of the civil rights era. Basing her work on painstaking archival research and new interviews with key participants in Tijerina’s life and career, Lorena Oropeza traces the origins of Tijerina's revelatory historical analysis to the years he spent as a Pentecostal preacher and his hidden past as a self-proclaimed prophet of God. Confronting allegations of anti-Semitism and accusations of sexual abuse, as well as evidence of extreme religiosity and possible mental illness, Oropeza's narrative captures the life of a man--alternately mesmerizing and repellant--who changed our understanding of the American West and the place of Latinos in the fabric of American struggles for equality and self-determination.


September 4, 2019 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

From the Bookshelves: Law of Asylum in the United States, 2019 ed. by Deborah E. Anker


Law of Asylum in the United States, 2019 ed. by Deborah E. Anker

Law of Asylum in the United States is an authoritative presentation of U.S. asylum law, long considered a must-have publication for practitioners, students, researchers, and teachers. It is frequently relied upon and cited by practitioners and decision makers. Law of Asylum describes and interprets U.S. statutes, regulations, and cases, as well as numerous international sources, providing an up-to-date analysis of all aspects of asylum law.

This edition has been thoroughly updated to capture recent developments in asylum law and policy, including the Trump Administration's policy changes, children's credibility, formulation of particular social groups, the material support bar to asylum eligibility, the one-year filing deadline, ongoing Safe Third Country Act litigation, and reinstatement of removal. The extensive Procedures Appendix has been expanded and thoroughly updated to provide an invaluable resource for practitioners and researchers interested in U.S. asylum processes. In addition, this edition includes numerous unpublished Board of Immigration Appeals and immigration judge decisions In addition, this edition includes numerous unpublished Board of Immigration Appeals and immigration judge decisions and asylum officer training materials in accessible format to guide practitioners and researchers. Law of Asylum also addresses fundamental issues such as:

  • The meaning of "well-founded fear" and "persecution"
  • The five grounds for asylum (race, religion, nationality, social group membership, and political opinion)
  • Withholding of removal protection and protection under the Convention Against Torture
  • Claims based on childhood status and gender-based persecution
  • When nonstate actors can be considered agents of persecution
  • Extensive coverage of gang membership/opposition to gangs
  • Elements of proof
  • Credibility determinations
  • Recent changes in statutory language enacted with the REAL ID Act
  • BIA cases on social distinction and particularity



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

Monday, September 2, 2019

From the Bookshelves: Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration by Bryan Caplan (Author), Zach Weinersmith (Paperback – 29 Oct 2019)

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Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration  by Bryan Caplan (Author), Zach Weinersmith (Paperback – 29 Oct 2019)

Economist Bryan Caplan makes a bold case for unrestricted immigration in this fact-filled graphic nonfiction.

American policy-makers have long been locked in a heated battle over whether, how many, and what kind of immigrants to allow to live and work in the country. Those in favor of welcoming more immigrants often cite humanitarian reasons, while those in favor of more restrictive laws argue the need to protect native citizens.

But economist Bryan Caplan adds a new, compelling perspective to the immigration debate: He argues that opening all borders could eliminate absolute poverty worldwide and usher in a booming worldwide economy--greatly benefiting humanity.

With a clear and conversational tone, exhaustive research, and vibrant illustrations by Zach Weinersmith, Open Borders makes the case for unrestricted immigration easy to follow and hard to deny.



September 2, 2019 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 1, 2019

From the Bookshelves: John S.W. Park Review of Sarah Song, Immigration and Democracy


On the Law and Politics Book Review, John S.W. Park reviews Sarah Song, Immigration and Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2019).  It begins:

"Toward the middle of her book, IMMIGRATION AND DEMOCRACY, Professor Sarah Song notes that many intellectuals have stopped defending a thick, robust national sovereignty, at least in terms of an unqualified right of nation-states to control immigration. Instead, she claims, `open borders' has become a “dominant position among philosophers and political theorists writing about immigration” (p. 75). Song argues for an intermediate position, something between open borders and blunt forms of national sovereignty: `what is required is neither closed nor open borders but controlled borders and open doors' (p. 77). She devotes the first third of her book to critiques of existing accounts of national sovereignty, the next third to how open borders still aren’t a good idea, and then the last third to outline her own position."

Park's conclusion:

"And yet I think that we still have far more hard work to do in political theory and in political philosophy, if just to describe why national sovereignty — even a highly qualified right to national self-determination — may or may not, or should or should not, survive the kinetic, interconnected world in which we live. Very likely, some version of national sovereignty will survive, and of all these versions, I would prefer Professor Song’s. But as the world’s climate changes, as weaker states fall apart, and as more people must move to survive or to pursue livable conditions, I worry that her more sensible version of self-determination will rather not prevail over the harsher, racist, parochial, and acid versions that destroy and criminalize local communities, rip families apart, or justify the long-term incarceration of children. I think that we still need to clarify what `self-determination' should not entail, in light of our specific past, as well as in our collective future. I also think that we still need to figure out how national sovereignty might make sense during this moment when our technologies can easily bring together so many people, virtually and physically, across vast distances, thereby changing large cities and regions. I am thankful for Professor Song’s contributions, but I do hope that she’ll write a sequel to explore these questions further."


September 1, 2019 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 30, 2019

From the Bookshelves: Debut novelist's tale of Sri Lankan refugees wins 2019 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction


The ABA Journal reports on the winner of the 2019 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction.  

In 2009 and 2010, two ships packed with refugees fleeing the Sri Lankan civil war arrived on the shores of Canada. Those refugees inspired Sharon Bala's debut novel, The Boat People, which won the 2019 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction.

The story is told through the eyes of a Sri Lankan man seeking asylum for himself and his son; a young Sri Lankan-Canadian law student reluctantly assigned to help with his case; and the granddaughter of Japanese immigrants to Canada interned during World War II, who will have to decide whether the details of his story add up.

In a podcast at the link above, Bala talked with the ABA Journal’s Lee Rawles about the true stories behind her fictional novel and what winning the prize means to her.

The prize, which was authorized by the late Harper Lee, was established in 2011 by the University of Alabama School of Law and the ABA Journal to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird. It is given annually to a book-length work of fiction that best illuminates the role of lawyers in society and their power to effect change.


August 30, 2019 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 23, 2019

Mediterranean Blue

Careful readers know that I love poetry. It's a medium that manages to convey volumes of emotion in short bursts of words.

Professor Rubén G. Rumbaut (Irvine) recently brought this gem to my attention. It's a piece written by Southwest poet Naomi Shihab Nye, the daughter of a Palestinian refugee.

Mediterranean Blue

If you are a child of a refugee, you do not
sleep easily when they are crossing the sea
on small rafts and you know they can't swim.
My father couldn't swim either. He swam through
sorrow, through, and made it to the other side
on a ship, pitching his old clothes overboard
at landing, then tried to be happy, make a new life.
But something inside him was always paddling home,
clinging to anything that floated--a story, a food, or face.
They are the bravest people on earth right now,
don't dare look down on them. Each mind a universe
swirling as many details as yours, as much love
for a humble place. Now the shirt is torn,
the sea too wide for comfort, and nowhere
to receive a letter for a long time.

And if we can reach out a hand, we better.

I start teaching asylum with Home by Warsan Shire. I like using that poem because it's from the perspective of the asylum seeker themselves. Her youtube reading of the poem brings tears to my eyes every time. The emotional impact of that work is undeniable.

Here, Mediterranean Blue offers something different. It captures the ongoing struggles of refugees, decades later, after resettlement. It's a poem that puts you a little off center. You'd think that finding refuge would be a miracle cure where all else that follows would be golden. This poem indicates something different. I think it might be a good end to an asylum course/segment. It says - look, we could do more than just offer a place to leave. We could be a hand to hold when the longing for the past is overwhelming.


August 23, 2019 in Books, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Queens NY speaks more languages than anywhere else in the world

Queens languages

This remarkable map shows the 800 languages spoken in New York City. The map is featured in " Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas" by Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro. According to the Endangered Language Alliance, Queens speaks more languages than anywhere else in the world. (Original story from Business Insider.)


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

Thursday, August 22, 2019

From the Bookshelves: The Long Honduran Night: Resistance , Terror, and the United States in the Aftermath of the Coup by Dana Frank

The Long Honduran Night: Resistance , Terror, and the United States in the Aftermath of the Coup by Dana Frank (2018)

This book offers insights on why so many asylum-seekers are coming from Honduras to teh United States.

The book is a powerful narrative recounting the tumultuous time in Honduras that witnessed then-President Manuel Zelaya deposed by a coup in June 2009, told through first-person experiences and layered with deeper political analysis. It weaves together two perspectives; first, the broad picture of Honduras since the coup, including the coup itself, its continuation in two repressive regimes, and secondly, the evolving Honduran resistance movement, and a new, broad solidarity movement in the United States.

Although it is full of terrible things, this not a horror story: this narrative directly counters mainstream media coverage that portrays Honduras as a pit of unrelenting awfulness, in which powerless sobbing mothers cry over bodies in the morgue. Rather, it’s about sobering challenges and the inspiring collective strength with which people face them.

Dana Frank is a professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is the author of Baneras: Women Transforming the Banana Unions of Latin America from Haymarket Books. Since the 2009 military coup her articles about human rights and U.S. policy in Honduras have appeared in The Nation, New York Times, Politico Magazine, Foreign, The Baffler, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, and many other publications, and she has testified in both the US Congress and Canadian Parliament.


August 22, 2019 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

From the Bookshelves: State of Resistance: What California’s Dizzying Descent and Remarkable Resurgence Mean for America’s Future by Manuel Pastor


A leading sociologist’s brilliant, revelatory argument that the future of politics, work, immigration, and more can be found in California

“Provocative and deftly argued.” —Kirkus Reviews 

Lauded by James Fallows on the front page of the New York Times Book Review as “concise, clear, and convincing” upon its hardcover publication, State of Resistance makes the case for honestly engaging racial anxiety in order to address our true economic and generational challenges, renewing our commitment to public investments, cultivating social movements and community organizing, and more.

Once upon a time, any mention of California triggered unpleasant reminders
of Ronald Reagan and right-wing tax revolts, ballot propositions targeting undocumented immigrants, and racist policing that sparked two of the nation’s most devastating riots. In fact, California confronted many of the challenges the country faces now—decades before the rest of us.

As white residents became a minority and job loss drove economic uncertainty, California had its own Trump moment twenty-five years ago but has become increasingly blue over each of the last seven presidential elections. Today, California is leading the way on addressing climate change, low-wage work, immigrant integration, overincarceration, and more. Pastor expertly reveals how the Golden State did it.

And as Neera Tandeen, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress, said, “State of Resistance paints a brilliant picture of how our generation can seize the opportunity to forge a more inclusive, just, and prosperous America for every family.”



August 21, 2019 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 19, 2019

From the Bookshelves: Understanding Immigration Law Third Edition by Kevin R. Johnson, Raquel Aldana, Bill Ong Hing, Leticia M. Saucedo, Enid Trucios-Haynes


Fresh off the press!  I just received my copy today.  The new edition is available for fall 2019 classes.

Understanding Immigration Law Third Edition, August 2019 by Kevin R. Johnson, Raquel Aldana, Bill Ong Hing, Leticia M. Saucedo, Enid Trucios-Haynes

The third edition of Understanding Immigration Law lays out the basics of U.S. immigration law in an accessible way to newcomers to the field. It offers background about the intellectual, historical, and constitutional foundations of U.S. immigration law. The book also identifies the factors that have historically fueled migration to the United States, including the economic "pull" of jobs and family in the United States and the "push" of economic hardship, political instability, and other facts of life in the sending country. 

Each chapter has been updated to analyze the unprecedented number of immigration enforcement measures—and many simply unprecedented measures—taken by the Trump administration, including but not limited to:

  • The various increased enforcement measures, including expanded detention (and the “end of catch-and-release”), workplace raids, and restoration of Secure Communities (which the Obama administration had dismantled);
  • The “zero tolerance” policy directed at Central American asylum seekers, including the policy to separate minors from parents in immigration detention centers;
  • The “Muslim”” or “travel ban” upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court;
  • The end of Temporary Protected Status for Salvadorans, Hondurans, Nicaraguans, Haitians, and nationals of several other countries;
  • The attempt to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy adopted by the Obama administration; and
  • The efforts to discourage state and local “sanctuary” policies that limit state and local cooperation with federal immigration enforcement efforts.

The chapters further update the various chapters with Supreme Court immigration decisions, including the Court’s decision invalidating a removal ground on due process grounds (Sessions v. Dimaya (2018)) and invalidating a derivative citizenship rule for violating Equal Protection (Sessions v. Morales-Santana (2017)).




August 19, 2019 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 18, 2019

From the Bookshelves: A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves One Family and Migration in the 21st Century By Jason DeParle


A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves One Family and Migration in the 21st Century By Jason DeParle 

The definitive chronicle of our new age of global migration, told through the multi-generational saga of a Filipino family, by a veteran New York Times reporter and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist.

When Jason DeParle moved into the Manila slums with Tita Comodas and her family three decades ago, he never imagined his reporting on them would span three generations and turn into the defining chronicle of a new age–the age of global migration. In a monumental book that gives new meaning to “immersion journalism,” DeParle paints an intimate portrait of an unforgettable family as they endure years of sacrifice and separation, willing themselves out of shantytown poverty into a new global middle class. At the heart of the story is Tita’s daughter, Rosalie. Beating the odds, she struggles through nursing school and works her way across the Middle East until a Texas hospital fulfills her dreams with a job offer in the States.

Migration is changing the world–reordering politics, economics, and cultures across the globe. With nearly 45 million immigrants in the United States, few issues are as polarizing. But if the politics of immigration is broken, immigration itself–tens of millions of people gathered from every corner of the globe–remains an underappreciated American success. Expertly combining the personal and panoramic, DeParle presents a family saga and a global phenomenon. Restarting her life in Galveston, Rosalie brings her reluctant husband and three young children with whom she has rarely lived. They must learn to become a family, even as they learn a new country. Ordinary and extraordinary at once, their journey is a twenty-first-century classic, rendered in gripping detail.

The Migration Policy Institute is holding a discussion of the book with the author.



August 18, 2019 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

From the Bookshelves: Becoming Transnational Youth Workers by Isabel Martinez


Becoming Transnational Youth Workers by Isabel Martinez

Becoming Transnational Youth Workers contests mainstream notions of adolescence with its study of a previously under-documented cross-section of Mexican immigrant youth. Preceding the latest wave of Central American children and teenagers now fleeing violence in their homelands, Isabel Martinez examines a group of unaccompanied Mexican teenage minors who emigrated to New York City in the early 2000s. As one of the consequences of intractable poverty in their homeland, these emigrant youth exhibit levels of agency and competence not usually assigned to children and teenage minors, and disrupt mainstream notions of what practices are appropriate at their ages. Leaving school and family in Mexico and financially supporting not only themselves through their work in New York City, but also their families back home, these youths are independent teenage migrants who, upon migration, wish to assume or resume autonomy and agency rather than dependence. This book also explores community and family understandings about survival and social mobility in an era of extreme global economic inequality.


August 13, 2019 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 8, 2019

From the Bookshelves: Empire of Borders by Todd Miller


Empire of Borders by Todd Miller

The United States is outsourcing its border patrol abroad--and essentially expanding its borders in the process

The twenty-first century has witnessed the rapid hardening of international borders. Security, surveillance, and militarization are widening the chasm between those who travel where they please and those whose movements are restricted. But that is only part of the story. As journalist Todd Miller reveals in Empire of Borders, the nature of US borders has changed. These boundaries have effectively expanded thousands of miles outside of US territory to encircle not simply American land but Washington’s interests. Resources, training, and agents from the United States infiltrate the Caribbean and Central America; they reach across the Canadian border; and they go even farther afield, enforcing the division between Global South and North.

The highly publicized focus on a wall between the United States and Mexico misses the bigger picture of strengthening border enforcement around the world.

Empire of Borders is a tremendous work of narrative investigative journalism that traces the rise of this border regime. It delves into the practices of “extreme vetting,” which raise the possibility of “ideological” tests and cyber-policing for migrants and visitors, a level of scrutiny that threatens fundamental freedoms and allows, once again, for America’s security concerns to infringe upon the sovereign rights of other nations.

In Syria, Guatemala, Kenya, Palestine, Mexico, the Philippines, and elsewhere, Miller finds that borders aren’t making the world safe—they are the frontline in a global war against the poor.

Todd Miller is the author of Border Patrol Nation and Storming the Wall, winner of the 2018 Izzy Award for investigative journalism. His writing has been published by the New York Times, TomDispatch, Mother Jones, the Nation, Al Jazeera English, and Salon.

Miller discusses the book on this podcast.  It is summarized as follows:

"Today, Todd Miller joins us to talk about his new book, `Empire of Borders.' What is going on at the US-Mexico border, is just the tip of the iceberg. The US Security state is worldwide and it is waging a war in on the Poor."


August 8, 2019 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Immigration Article of the Day: Paradoxes of Protection: Compassionate Repression at the Mexico–Guatemala Border

Paradoxes of Protection: Compassionate Repression at the Mexico–Guatemala Border


Rebecca Galemba 

Katie Dingeman

Kaelyn DeVries 

Yvette Servin

In this article, we examine a novel set of data from migrant shelters — 16 qualitative interviews with migrants and nine with staff and advocates in the Mexico–Guatemala border region, as well as 118 complaints of abuses committed along migrants’ journeys — informally filed by migrants at a shelter on the Guatemalan side of the border, and an additional eight complaints filed at a shelter on the Mexican side of the border. We document and analyze the nature, location, and perpetrators of these alleged abuses, using a framework of “compassionate repression” (Fassin 2012) to examine the obstacles that migrants encounter in denouncing abuses and seeking protection. We contend that while humanitarian visas can provide necessary protection for abuses committed in Mexico, they are limited by their temporary nature, by being nested within a migration system that prioritizes migrant removal, and because they recognize only crimes that occur in Mexico. The paradox between humanitarian concerns and repressive migration governance in a context of high impunity shapes institutional and practical obstacles to reporting crimes, receiving visas, and accessing justice. In this context, a variety of actors recognize that they can exploit and profit from migrants’ lack of mobility, legal vulnerability, and uncertain access to protection, leading to a commodification of access to humanitarian protection along the route.

Guatemala-Mexico border


July 30, 2019 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 22, 2019

Selective Citizenship: A reprise of Ian Haney-Lopez's "White By Law"

An excellent article on Trump's continuing verbal attack on four Congresswoman of color appeared in The New Yorker. Titled Donald Trump's Idea of Selective Citizenship, the article uses the recent flap to reprise the enduring historical analysis.

"This most recent incident highlights a theme of Trump’s pronouncements as they pertain to people of color. He presents the citizenship of black and brown Americans as a kind of probation that can be revoked for the most minor infractions of protocol.

Ilhan Omar is a Somali-born refugee who became a naturalized U.S. citizen at the age of seventeen. She is American enough to serve in Congress but not enough for Trump, who has shown an increasing disregard for the very principle of asylum. Rashida Tlaib was born in Detroit, to immigrant parents. Ayanna Pressley was born, to African-American parents, in Cincinnati. Her family has been here longer than Trump’s, and, as African-Americans, they are part of a population that was forcibly brought to this country to do its labor. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was born in the Bronx, to parents of Puerto Rican descent, which means that, even if she did go back to where her ancestors came from, she would still be in America.

The idea of selective citizenship is not uncommon in American history. "

The history of racial prerequisites for naturalization that it continues to narrate reprises the point made thirteen years ago by Ian Haney Lopez in White By Law.  In the first edition of White by Law, Haney López traced the reasoning employed by the courts in their efforts to justify the whiteness of some and the non-whiteness of others, and revealed the criteria that were used, often arbitrarily, to determine whiteness, and thus citizenship: skin color, facial features, national origin, language, culture, ancestry, scientific opinion, and, most importantly, popular opinion. In the tenth anniversary edition, Haney López revisited the legal construction of race by arguing that current race law has spawned a troubling racial ideology that perpetuates inequality under a new guise: colorblind white dominance. It would be hard to find a better explanation of the defense of President Trump's comments ("I don't have a racist bone in my body")

UPDATE 7/23/2019: A similarly excellent piece by Ariela Gross in the Washington Post titled, "Citizenship Used to be White," excavates the role of "free people of color," many of them former slaves, who pushed to ensure citizenship did not have racial prerequisites and would instead be based on shared national commitments to equality and justice.


July 22, 2019 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)