Altschuler is the Thomas and Dorothy Litwin Professor of American Studies at Cornell. He is the co-author (with Stuart Blumin) of Rude Republic: Americans and Their Politics in the Nineteenth Century.
Saturday, November 26, 2022
California is a frontier in progressive politics, and the City of Oakland contributes to that legacy with their election of Ms. Sheng Thao. Mayor-elect Thao will be the first Hmong American woman to lead a major US city (with 430,000 residents) and the youngest Oakland mayor in 75 years. She is the daughter of Hmong refugees, an ethnic minority that fled Laos during a genocide, and settled in the US through the US refugee resettlement program.
Mayor-elect Thao has first-hand experience with some of the leading issues in her district, including poverty and homelessness. Amid a Bay Area housing crisis, she is the first mayor to be a renter while in office and probably among a small number who have experienced homelessness. She left her impoverished home in Stockton, California at age 17. Three years later, she was pregnant when she chose to leave an abusive relationship and slept on couches and in her car with an infant son before finding secure shelter. She focused on homelessness during her campaign, noting that Oakland experienced a steeper rise in homelessness than any other city in the Bay Area region that leads the nation in housing costs. The mayor-elect distinguished herself from other mayoral candidates by laying out housing policies that invest in public health and violence prevention as its public safety approach, rather than taking a tough on crime approach or defunding police altogether as the city struggles with urban crime. She also wants to create more jobs and educational opportunities.
Formerly a UC Berkeley and community college transfer student, Ms. Thao's prior community advocacy focused on food insecurity in and around campus. At UC Berkeley, she collected food donations from local restaurants and grocers to feed her fellow students. She became involved with Oakland policies as an intern and staff member in the Vice Mayor's and City Council's offices and expanded food delivery to senior citizens; on the city council, she voted to support state legislation to build housing in commerical corridors and expand zoning limits to multi-unit, multi-story housing in formerly single-family home lots. Now she'll be in a position to do even more, aspiring to add 30,000 new housing units over the next eight years, enhance safety at RV parking sites, trash and sanitation services to homeless encampments. She also supports rent control to stem homelessness up-front.
Sheng [Thao] is a down to earth candidate who actually knows what it’s like for people who are marginalized in this city
said Pamela Drake, a local activist who advised Thao’s campaign, in a feature story in The Guardian. Drake noted that Thao is more moderate than some community activists -- winning by a slim margin over another moderate Democratic front runner Councilmember Loren Taylor in a ranked choice election -- but said she believes Thao will not ignore people in need. Thao also had the backing of labor unions and progressive politicians. She will serve in a city council with a progressive majority and the first Black district attorney of Alameda County (Vice-President Kamala Harris began her career in the same office, before joining the San Francisco District Attorney and becoming the DA for San Francisco).
Her acceptance speech and a profile on her history-making election appears here.
Tuesday, November 15, 2022
Here's a book I simultaneously can't wait to read and can't bear the thought of reading. Solito is a memoir by Javier Zamora. It chronicles his solo journey from El Salvador to the United States at the tender age of 9.
Trip. My parents started using that word about a year ago—“one day, you’ll take a trip to be with us. Like an adventure.”
Javier Zamora’s adventure is a three-thousand-mile journey from his small town in El Salvador, through Guatemala and Mexico, and across the U.S. border. He will leave behind his beloved aunt and grandparents to reunite with a mother who left four years ago and a father he barely remembers. Traveling alone amid a group of strangers and a “coyote” hired to lead them to safety, Javier expects his trip to last two short weeks.
At nine years old, all Javier can imagine is rushing into his parents’ arms, snuggling in bed between them, and living under the same roof again. He cannot foresee the perilous boat trips, relentless desert treks, pointed guns, arrests and deceptions that await him; nor can he know that those two weeks will expand into two life-altering months alongside fellow migrants who will come to encircle him like an unexpected family.
A memoir as gripping as it is moving, Solito provides an immediate and intimate account not only of a treacherous and near-impossible journey, but also of the miraculous kindness and love delivered at the most unexpected moments. Solito is Javier Zamora’s story, but it’s also the story of millions of others who had no choice but to leave home.
You can read more about Javier Zamora on his website. In addition to this memoir, Zamora is a prolific poet. He's published in numerous outlets and has a collection of poetry called Unaccompanied that crosses much of the same ground as Solito through the medium of poetry.
Friday, November 11, 2022
Here is the publisher's blurb:
"The University of Nevada Press is pleased to publish its first dual-language (Spanish-English) book of poetry, To the North/Al norte: Poems, by the Nicaraguan poet León Salvatierra. The work is rooted in the Central American diaspora that emerged from the civil wars in the 1980s. The poems are tied together through the experiences, memories, visions, and dreams of a 15-yearold boy who embarked on a journey to the United States with a group of forty other migrants from Central America. After being undocumented for eleven years, Salvatierra established himself in the United States, first becoming a naturalized citizen and then obtaining a university education.
Salvatierra mixes lyrical and prose poems to explore the experience of exile in a new country. His powerful metaphors and fresh images inhabit spaces fraught with the violence, anxiety, and vulnerability that undocumented Central American migrants commonly face in their transnational journeys. His vivid memories of Nicaragua tie the personal experiences of his poetic subjects to the geopolitical history between the Central American region and the United States."
León Salvatierra has a doctorate in Hispanic languages and literatures from UC Berkeley and a master of fine arts in poetry from UC Davis, where he is a professor in the department of Chicana/Chicano Studies. At 15, Salvatierra migrated from Nicaragua to escape becoming a child soldier. Click here for a profile on Salvatierra and the book in the Los Angeles Times.
Wednesday, November 9, 2022
Yesterday, I pointed y'all towards some of Jimmy O. Yang's standup comedy about crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and, you know, falsely representing himself to CBP a U.S. citizen (as one does as a dumb ass, drunk youth).
Well, Jimmy isn't just a stand-up comic. He's an actor, producer, and AUTHOR.
His 2015 memoir is titled How to American: An Immigrant's Guide to Disappointing Your Parents. Here's the pitch:
"I turned down a job in finance to pursue a career in stand-up comedy. My dad thought I was crazy. But I figured it was better to disappoint my parents for a few years than to disappoint myself for the rest of my life. I had to disappoint them in order to pursue what I loved. That was the only way to have my Chinese turnip cake and eat an American apple pie too."
Jimmy O. Yang is a standup comedian, film and TV actor and fan favorite as the character Jian Yang from the popular HBO series Silicon Valley. In How to American, he shares his story of growing up as a Chinese immigrant who pursued a Hollywood career against the wishes of his parents: Yang arrived in Los Angeles from Hong Kong at age 13, learned English by watching BET RapCity for three hours a day, and worked as a strip club DJ while pursuing his comedy career. He chronicles a near deportation episode during a college trip Tijuana to finally becoming a proud US citizen ten years later. Featuring those and many other hilarious stories, while sharing some hard-earned lessons, How to American mocks stereotypes while offering tongue in cheek advice on pursuing the American dreams of fame, fortune, and strippers.
Thursday, November 3, 2022
Here is the publisher's description of the book:
"The early 1980s marked a critical turning point for the rise of modern mass incarceration in the United States. The Mariel Cuban migration of 1980, alongside increasing arrivals of Haitian and Central American asylum-seekers, galvanized new modes of covert warfare in the Reagan administration's globalized War on Drugs. Using newly available government documents, Shull demonstrates how migrant detention operates as a form of counterinsurgency at the intersections of US war-making and domestic carceral trends. As the Reagan administration developed retaliatory enforcement measures to target a racialized specter of mass migration, it laid the foundations of new forms of carceral and imperial expansion.
Wednesday, November 2, 2022
The publisher describes the book as follows:
"‘This stimulating book redefines the `progressive dilemma', the fear that immigration and ethno-racial diversity undermine the welfare state. Drawing on a comprehensive analysis of the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, and Sweden, the book concludes that the tensions between natives and newcomers are real, but the result is not weaker social programs but pressure for more selective immigration. The battles and choices occur at the border."
Contributors: Karen Nielsen Breidahl, Mette Buchardt, Lanciné E.N. Diop, Anna Diop-Christensen, Nanna Ramsing Enemark, Troels Fage Hedegaard, Kristian Kriegbaum Jensen, Christian Albrekt Larsen, Jin Hui Li, Tore Vincents Olsen, Emma Ek Österberg, Rasmus Lind Ravn, Trine Lund Thomsen
Wednesday, October 26, 2022
"[t]he book provides both expert guidance and a summary of case law, updated for practitioners defending noncitizens who are subject to removal or who have been denied immigration benefits to which they are entitled.
Litigating Immigration Cases in Federal Court is an essential guide for individuals challenging immigration decisions in federal court. For persons filing a lawsuit in federal court for the first time, the book provides sample pleadings as well as guidance on arguments that the government typically makes in its attempt to dismiss lawsuits. For more experienced practitioners, the book provides "Quick Cites"- editorially vetted favorable cases (with quotes from the most relevant passages) that the author considers to be particularly useful in brief writing.
Litigating Immigration Cases in Federal Court, includes advice on:
Stuart Anderson for Forbes reports on a new study concluding that temporary work visas allow firms to expand and hire more U.S. workers. "Economists find it is the latest in a series of recent studies that demonstrate the key premise of immigration restriction—that there is only a fixed number of jobs in the economy—relies on ignorance of economics." (bold added). Anderson continues: "For more than 100 years, opponents of immigration have promoted the `lump of labor fallacy,' a discredited notion that there is a fixed quantity of labor needed in an economy." Consistent with past studies, a new studyby two economists "again shows it is wrong to assume new entrants to the labor market mean fewer jobs for U.S. workers." (bold added).
Anderson reviews some of the other studies that have found that the economic claims that immigrants "take" American jobs are not supported by the evidence: Among the studies he mentions is a book concluding today’s immigrants assimilate as well as past immigrants, and their children are better off economically than the children of the native-born. In Streets of Gold: America’s Untold Story of Immigrant Success, previously featured on this blog, the authors note that the data shows that the "children of immigrants from nearly every country in the world, including from poorer countries . . . , are more upwardly mobile than the children of U.S.-born residents who were raised in families with a similar income level.”
Sunday, October 23, 2022
This title, y'all -- Sigh, Gone: A Misfit's Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In by Phuc Tran.
Here's the publisher's pitch:
For anyone who has ever felt like they don't belong, Sigh, Gone shares an irreverent, funny, and moving tale of displacement and assimilation woven together with poignant themes from beloved works of classic literature.
In 1975, during the fall of Saigon, Phuc Tran immigrates to America along with his family. By sheer chance they land in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, a small town where the Trans struggle to assimilate into their new life. In this coming-of-age memoir told through the themes of great books such as The Metamorphosis, The Scarlet Letter, The Iliad, and more, Tran navigates the push and pull of finding and accepting himself despite the challenges of immigration, feelings of isolation, and teenage rebellion, all while attempting to meet the rigid expectations set by his immigrant parents.
Appealing to fans of coming-of-age memoirs such as Fresh Off the Boat, Running with Scissors, or tales of assimilation like Viet Thanh Nguyen's The Displaced and The Refugees, Sigh, Gone explores one man’s bewildering experiences of abuse, racism, and tragedy and reveals redemption and connection in books and punk rock. Against the hairspray-and-synthesizer backdrop of the ‘80s, he finds solace and kinship in the wisdom of classic literature, and in the subculture of punk rock, he finds affirmation and echoes of his disaffection. In his journey for self-discovery Tran ultimately finds refuge and inspiration in the art that shapes—and ultimately saves—him.
Friday, October 21, 2022
The Slow Violence of Immigration Court Procedural Justice on Trial by Maya Pagni Barak (forthcominng March 2023, NYU Press)
The publisher's description of the book reads as follows:
"Each year, hundreds of thousands of migrants are moved through immigration court. With a national backlog surpassing one million cases, court hearings take years and most migrants will eventually be ordered deported. The Slow Violence of Immigration Court sheds light on the experiences of migrants from the “Northern Triangle” (Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador) as they navigate legal processes, deportation proceedings, immigration court, and the immigration system writ large.
Grounded in the illuminating stories of people facing deportation, the family members who support them, and the attorneys who defend them, The Slow Violence of Immigration Court invites readers to question matters of fairness and justice and the fear of living with the threat of deportation. Although the spectacle of violence created by family separation and deportation is perceived as extreme and unprecedented, these long legal proceedings are masked in the mundane and are often overlooked, ignored, and excused. In an urgent call to action, Maya Pagni Barak deftly demonstrates that deportation and family separation are not abhorrent anomalies, but are a routine, slow form of violence at the heart of the U.S. immigration system."
Monday, October 17, 2022
Altschuler is the Thomas and Dorothy Litwin Professor of American Studies at Cornell. He is the co-author (with Stuart Blumin) of Rude Republic: Americans and Their Politics in the Nineteenth Century.
Thursday, October 13, 2022
Wednesday, October 12, 2022
Holy shit, @JDVance1 just KO'd Tim Ryan!!!— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) October 10, 2022
"You voted so many times against border wall funding...If you had done your job, she would have never been raped in the first place. Do your job on border security, don't lecture me about opinions I don't actually have." #OHSenDebate pic.twitter.com/MzDLevzKeI
The fight for control of the U.S. Senate continues. Ohio is a battleground state.
During the debate, Ryan accused Vance of being extreme in his opposition to abortion. "Vance turned the question around on Ryan, claiming that a recent high-profile case of a young Ohio girl being raped and impregnated by an illegal migrant was the fault of the Democratic Party's lax immigration policies." Vance told Ryan, "If you had done your job, she would have never been raped in the first place."
Wednesday, October 5, 2022
In this deep dive into the Jamaican music world filled with the voices of creators, producers, and consumers, Larisa Kingston Mann—DJ, media law expert, and ethnographer—identifies how a culture of collaboration lies at the heart of Jamaican creative practices and legal personhood. In street dances, recording sessions, and global genres such as the riddim, notions of originality include reliance on shared knowledge and authorship as an interactive practice. In this context, musicians, music producers, and audiences are often resistant to conventional copyright practices. And this resistance, Mann shows, goes beyond cultural concerns.
Because many working-class and poor people are cut off from the full benefits of citizenship on the basis of race, class, and geography, Jamaican music spaces are an important site of social commentary and political action in the face of the state’s limited reach and neglect of social services and infrastructure. Music makers organize performance and commerce in ways that defy, though not without danger, state ordinances and intellectual property law and provide poor Jamaicans avenues for self-expression and self-definition that are closed off to them in the wider society. In a world shaped by coloniality, how creators relate to copyright reveals how people will play outside, within, and through the limits of their marginalization.
Initial reviews say
“Refusing the (re)colonizing gaze, Larisa Kingston Mann departs from ethnomusicological approaches that reduce the practices of peoples of the global South to spectacle and evaluate them in terms of their distance from the North. Her self-reflective ethnography examines Jamaican music production, reception practices, and spaces on their own terms and shows that if these spaces are exilic because of their marginality, they are also sites of autonomy and alternative forms of sovereignty.”—Boatema Boateng, University of California, San Diego
“Placing ethnography in conversation with media and legal history, Larisa Kingston Mann’s study of the theory and practice of copyright law in Jamaica comprises a significant analysis of the understudied intersection of music, law, and legal cultures in the Caribbean. Important reading in a diverse set of fields.”—Alejandra Bronfman, University at Albany, SUNY
The table of contents and an excerpt are here.
Tuesday, September 27, 2022
I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter is about a 15-year-old girl who has a contentious relationship with her immigrant parents. Author Erika L. Sánchez explains in conversation with Latino USA's Maria Hinojosa her goal to challenge ideas of Latina perfection. The book is being adapted into a major motion film starring American Ferrera.
David Bowles, author of They Call Her Fregona: A Border Kid's Poems, discusses the cracks in the Latino community and immigration in pursuit of a better life. The book is poetry -- literally, it is written in verse.
Saturday, September 17, 2022
Here is the description of the second edition from Carolina Academic Press:
"Slavery has not been eradicated. The second edition of Human Trafficking updates the legal, moral and political attempts to contain sex and labor trafficking. The authors bring unique perspectives to these topics. Professor Page, an African American woman all too familiar with the vestiges of slavery, has written and lectured internationally on trafficking. Professor Piatt, a Hispanic law professor and former law school dean, brings his international experience as an educator, author and advocate regarding immigration and human rights matters to bear. The book considers efforts at containment, including controversial topics such as whether prostitution should be legalized. It concludes with specific approaches to eliminate trafficking.
Friday, September 16, 2022
The book is now available for preorder with the University of North Carolina Press.
Here is more on the book from the publisher:
The early 1980s marked a critical turning point for the rise of modern mass incarceration in the United States. The Mariel Cuban migration of 1980, alongside increasing arrivals of Haitian and Central American asylum-seekers, galvanized new modes of covert warfare in the Reagan administration's globalized War on Drugs. Using newly available government documents, Shull demonstrates how migrant detention operates as a form of counterinsurgency at the intersections of US war-making and domestic carceral trends. As the Reagan administration developed retaliatory enforcement measures to target a racialized specter of mass migration, it laid the foundations of new forms of carceral and imperial expansion.
Reagan's war on immigrants also sowed seeds of mass resistance. Drawing on critical refugee studies, community archives, protest artifacts, and oral histories, Detention Empire also shows how migrants resisted state repression at every turn. People in detention and allies on the outside—including legal advocates, Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition, and the Central American peace and Sanctuary movements—organized hunger strikes, caravans, and prison uprisings to counter the silencing effects of incarceration and speak truth to US empire. As the United States remains committed to shoring up its borders in an era of unprecedented migration and climate crisis, reckoning with these histories takes on new urgency.
Sunday, September 11, 2022
Weekends are for reading. Oh, who am I kidding. Reading is for every single moment of the day that is not required to be spent elsewhere. For exercise during law school, I would take long walks while reading paperbacks. (Clearly, this was a pre-smart phone era. I've moved to audiobooks.).
Anyhoo.... looking for a new novel to consume? Consider American Fever by Dur e Aziz Amna. Here's how publisher Simon & Shuster pitches it:
On a year-long exchange program in rural Oregon, a Pakistani student, sixteen-year-old Hira, must swap Kashmiri chai for volleyball practice and try to understand why everyone around her seems to dislike Obama. A skeptically witty narrator, Hira finds herself stuck between worlds. The experience is memorable for reasons both good and bad; a first kiss, new friends, racism, Islamophobia, homesickness. Along the way Hira starts to feel increasingly unwell until she begins coughing up blood, and receives a diagnosis of tuberculosis, pushing her into quarantine and turning her newly established home away from home upside down.
American Fever is a compelling and laugh-out-loud funny novel about adolescence, family, otherness, religion, the push-and-pull of home. It marks the entrance on the international literary scene of the brilliant fresh voice of Dur e Aziz Amna.
There's a lovely interview with the author in the Los Angeles Review of Books wherein Amna confesses that the protagonist is, in someways, her. They share, after all, an exchange program that whisked them to a rural part of American from Pakistan. But now more than a decade has passed since that experience. Amna is an author and a mother. So, her Hira is "perhaps angrier, less diplomatic, hopefully less mature" than the author today.
Her book is, of course, an immigrant story. But immigration is complex. I love this description Amna gave to the LARB:
I think that so much of moving to another place is a constant tussle between these two identities, which can almost feel like time travel. You are a person who left; you are a person who came. You are a person who knows nothing; you are a person who remembers everything.
Saturday, September 10, 2022
I love science fiction. And The Expanse series by James S.A. Corey is epic. I've read every book. Listened to every audio book version. Watched every episode of the TV series. I'm a fan.
So it's with genuine excitement that I recommend to you one of the short stories from The Expanse series: Strange Dogs. You can find it in the collection of Expanse stories called Memory's Legion.
The focus of the story is two siblings. Children. The elder traveled with her family across space to settle on a new planet. Her younger brother was born on this new world.
I won't tell you what comes of these siblings. It's a short story, after all. If I say much more, it will be nothing but spoilers.
I will tell you that author James S.A. Corey (actually a pseudonym for writing pair Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) has said that Strange Dogs is "an immigrant story":
"They've come to a new place, and their parents are still living in the old country that exists in their minds. The children's books are all about birds [the siblings] have never seen and rules they've never lived by. Their home--their real home--is the place they're growing up."
I can't read you more of the author's commentary because, well, spoilers. But, trust me, it's super moving.
So, if you're up for a little science fiction this Saturday night, try it out. Then read the author's send up of the piece. A guaranteed good time that will have you looking at immigration in a new way.
Friday, September 9, 2022
"The fourth edition of this classic work provides a systematic, comparative assessment of the efforts of major immigrant-receiving countries and the European Union to manage migration, paying particular attention to the dilemmas of immigration control and immigrant integration.
Retaining its comprehensive coverage of nations built by immigrants—the so-called settler societies of the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand— the new edition explores how former imperial powers—France, Britain and the Netherlands—struggle to cope with the legacies of colonialism, how social democracies like Germany and the Scandinavian countries balance the costs and benefits of migration while maintaining strong welfare states, and how more recent countries of immigration in Southern Europe—Italy, Spain, and Greece—cope with new found diversity and the pressures of border control in a highly integrated European Union.
The fourth edition offers up-to-date analysis of the comparative politics of immigration and citizenship, the rise of reactive populism and a new nativism, and the challenge of managing migration and mobility in an age of pandemic, exploring how countries cope with a surge in asylum seeking and the struggle to integrate large and culturally diverse foreign populations.
About the authors
James F. Hollifield is Ora Nixon Arnold Professor of International Political Economy and Director of the Tower Center at Southern Methodist University. His other books include Understanding Global Migration (Stanford, 2022)..
Philip L. Martin is Professor Emeritus of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Chair of the University of California Comparative Immigration & Integration Program at the University of California, Davis.
Pia M. Orrenius is Vice President and Senior Economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
François Héran is Professor at the Collège de France, where he holds the chair in Migrations and Societies."