Friday, October 15, 2021

From the Bookshelves: Saving the Freedom of Information Act by Margaret B. Kwoka

Margaret Kwoka of Ohio State University Moritz College of Law has just published a new book titled Saving the Freedom of Information Act.

The book promises to be an essential Kwoka resource for a diverse set of readers, including those using the FOIA law to request immigration-related records. Here is the abstract:

Enacted in 1966, The Freedom of Information Act (or FOIA) was designed to promote oversight of governmental activities, under the notion that most users would be journalists. Today, however, FOIA is largely used for purposes other than fostering democratic accountability. Instead, most requesters are either individuals seeking their own files, businesses using FOIA as part of commercial enterprises, or others with idiosyncratic purposes like political opposition research. In this sweeping, empirical study, Margaret Kwoka documents how agencies have responded to the large volume of non-oversight requesters by creating new processes, systems, and specialists, which in turn has had a deleterious impact on journalists and the media. To address this problem, Kwoka proposes a series of structural solutions aimed at shrinking FOIA to re-center its oversight purposes.


October 15, 2021 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 14, 2021

From The Bookshelves: Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang


Beautiful Country is a memoir written by Qian Julie Wang. Here's the publisher's pitch:

In Chinese, the word for America, Mei Guo, translates directly to “beautiful country.” Yet when seven-year-old Qian arrives in New York City in 1994 full of curiosity, she is overwhelmed by crushing fear and scarcity. In China, Qian’s parents were professors; in America, her family is “illegal” and it will require all the determination and small joys they can muster to survive.

In Chinatown, Qian’s parents labor in sweatshops. Instead of laughing at her jokes, they fight constantly, taking out the stress of their new life on one another. Shunned by her classmates and teachers for her limited English, Qian takes refuge in the library and masters the language through books, coming to think of The Berenstain Bears as her first American friends. And where there is delight to be found, Qian relishes it: her first bite of gloriously greasy pizza, weekly “shopping days,” when Qian finds small treasures in the trash lining Brooklyn’s streets, and a magical Christmas visit to Rockefeller Center—confirmation that the New York City she saw in movies does exist after all.

But then Qian’s headstrong Ma Ma collapses, revealing an illness that she has kept secret for months for fear of the cost and scrutiny of a doctor’s visit. As Ba Ba retreats further inward, Qian has little to hold onto beyond his constant refrain: Whatever happens, say that you were born here, that you’ve always lived here.

Inhabiting her childhood perspective with exquisite lyric clarity and unforgettable charm and strength, Qian Julie Wang has penned an essential American story about a family fracturing under the weight of invisibility, and a girl coming of age in the shadows, who never stops seeking the light.

Here's a conversation with the author on NPR:


October 14, 2021 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

From the Bookshelves: Mexican American Civil Rights in Texas: Latinos in the United States (Robert Brischetto and J. Richard Avena, editors)

Mexican American Civil Rights in Texas

Mexican American Civil Rights in Texas: Latinos in the United States Edited by Robert Brischetto and J. Richard Avena (Oct. 2021)

Publisher's Abstract

Inspired by a 1968 U.S. Commission on Civil Rights six-day hearing in San Antonio that introduced the Mexican American people to the rest of the nation, this book is an examination of the social change of Mexican Americans of Texas over the past half century. The San Antonio hearing included 1,502 pages of testimony, given by more than seventy witnesses, which became the baseline twenty experts used to launch their research on Mexican American civil rights issues during the following fifty years. These experts explored the changes in demographics and policies with regard to immigration, voting rights, education, employment, economic security, housing, health, and criminal justice. While there are a number of anecdotal historical accounts of Mexican Americans in Texas, this book adds an evidence-based examination of racial and ethnic inequalities and changes over the past half century. The contributors trace the litigation on behalf of Latinos and other minorities in state and federal courts and the legislative changes that followed, offering public policy recommendations for the future. The fact that this study is grounded in Texas is significant, as it was the birthplace of a majority of Chicano civil rights efforts and is at the heart of Mexican American growth and talent, producing the first Mexican American in Congress, the first Mexican American federal judge, and the first Mexican American candidate for president. As the largest ethnic group in the state, Latinos will continue to play a major role in the future of Texas.


October 13, 2021 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 11, 2021

From the Bookshelves: Our Stories Carried Us Here Hardcover by Tea Rozman Clark


Our Stories Carried Us Here Hardcover by Tea Rozman Clark (August 2021)

The first national graphic anthology of 10 U.S. immigrants and refugees illustrated by 10 immigrants and refugees from all over the world.

A bold and unconventional collection of first-person stories told and illustrated by immigrants and refugees living across the United States. Stanford scientist, deaf student, indigenous activist, Black entrepreneur—all immigrants and refugees—recount journeys from their home countries in ten vibrantly illustrated stories. Faced by unfamiliar vistas, they are welcomed with possibilities, and confronted by challenges and prejudice. Timely, sobering, and insightful, Our Stories Carried Us Here acts as a mirror and a light to connect us all with immigrant and refugee experiences.


October 11, 2021 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Poetry Break: Rupi Kaur's immigrant

Rupi Kaur is a poetry sensation. She was just 21 and still in college when she wrote and illustrated her first book of poems: milk and honey (a book that "takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look."). She has since published The Sun and Her Flowers as well as Home Body.

There's even a Rupi Kaur Live film featuring the poet reading her works. Check out the trailer:

But I promised you a poem, and a poem you shall have. Here is immigrant, written and illustrated by Rupi Kaur:



October 10, 2021 in Books, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 8, 2021

From The Bookshelves: Immigration: Key to the Future -- The Benefits of Resettlement to Upstate New York


Immigration: Key to the Future -- The Benefits of Resettlement to Upstate New York is a publication of the New York State Bar Association, the Government Law Center at Albany Law School, and the Rockefeller Institute of Government at the State University of New York. Here's their pitch:

Do refugees contribute to a community's vitality, or are they a drain on a community's safety net resources? Until now there was no comprehensive effort by which to judge the impact of immigrants on Upstate New York, but now there is: Immigration: Key to the Future — The Benefits of Resettlement to Upstate New York examines how refugees contribute to and even rejuvenate their communities by offsetting demographic and economic decline through paying taxes, rebuilding housing stock, opening new businesses, and taking unfilled jobs....

30 authorities to explore the issue. Drawn from academia, the business community, and service organizations, and largely using demographic and statistical analysis, the contributors put forward strategies for successful resettlement of refugees.

Immigration: Key to the Future stands as a major statement on the contributions made by refugees to their adopted communities in the United States. It demolishes old myths and replaces them with an array of facts that are compelling, persuasive, and overwhelmingly positive.

One of the book's contributors is New American Economy. NAE summarizes their chapter as follows:

  • From peaking in the '70s, many Upstate New York cities have shrunk to half the size. The loss of economic activity and people to other parts of the country meant fewer jobs and a smaller tax base.
  • Between 2013-2018, Upstate New York shrunk by 0.9%, but its immigrant population grew by 4.4%. Without immigrants, Upstate New York would've shrunk by 1.3%.
  • Since 2002, more than 48,000 refugees have been resettled in Upstate New York. These newcomers represent a significant part—10.7%—of the immigrant community.
  • Together, in 2018 alone, immigrants and refugees in Upstate New York earned $15.2 billion and paid $3.0 billion in federal income tax and $1.9 billion in state and local taxes.


October 8, 2021 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Abdulrazak Gurnah, Chronicler of Migrant Experience, Wins 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature



As we blogged earlier this week, immigrants are running away with Nobel Prizes.  Among the winners is Tanzanian novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah, who won the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature for his “uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents.”

Gurnah grew up in Zanzibar. After the island liberated itself from the British Empire in 1963, a violent uprising led to widespread persecution of Arab-descended minorities. As a member of a targeted ethnic group, 18-year-old Gurnah was forced to seek refuge in England, writes Alison Flood for the Guardian.

Gurnah’s debut novel, Memory of Departure, relates the travails of a young man on the East African coast who comes of age under a totalitarian regime. In Paradise, which was described in Nobel announcement as his “breakthrough” work, Gurnah writes from the perspective of a 12-year-old boy who is forced into indentured servitude in East Africa in the years leading up to World War I.


October 8, 2021 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 4, 2021

Symposium -- Unequal Profession: Race and Gender in Legal Academia


Image - Unequal Profession Webinar 1

October 15, 2021, 2:00 P. M. - 3:30 P.M. PST, 1.5 Hours CLE   Click here for more information.


Professor Meera E. Deo joins us for a discussion with other distinguished legal scholars about her book, Unequal Profession: Race and Gender in Legal Academia (Stanford University Press, 2019). The book draws from her landmark Diversity in Legal Academia (DLA) project, the first formal empirical study to investigate raceXgender challenges and opportunities facing law professors in their personal and professional lives. The book not only exposes ongoing biases, but also reveals individual strategies and structural solutions to maximize success. 

Here are the panelists who will comment on the books.


October 4, 2021 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: Reluctant Reception by Lamis Abdelaaty (webinar Oct 15, 2021)

Reluctant Reception

October 4, 2021 in Books, Data and Research | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Poetry Break: This Matter by Haymanot

The following poem comes out of Write to Life--a British refugee-writing group that helps survivors of torture tell their stories through creative writing. 

This Matter by Haymanot

("This matter occupied the time of the Court from 10.20 a.m. to 10.28 a.m.")

Eight minutes they gave
for the light of me
to be switched on or switched off.

But that was O.K..
All that was on the agenda
was my small past,
my small future -

only a bangle of handcuffs
that suited my tiny hands;

only being dragged by the arms
so it polished the lucky airport floor
and saved me walking;

only three times staying
behind the eleven locked doors
of my holiday home.

I cried every day
but it wasn't too bad.
My tears cleaned my cheeks.

Eight minutes they gave.



October 3, 2021 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Winner of Restless Books 2021 Prize for New Immigrant Writing


The winner of the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing, which is given to a first-time, first-generation immigrant author. The 2021 nonfiction prize goes to Ani Gjika for By Its Right Name, a memoir (an excerpt is here), which will be published by Restless Books in 2023. 

Albanian-born writer Ani Gjika is the author and literary translator of eight books and chapbooks of poetry, among them Bread on Running Waters (Fenway Press, 2013), a finalist for the 2011 Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize. Her translation from the Albanian of Luljeta Lleshanaku’s Negative Space (New Directions and Bloodaxe Books, 2018) won an English PEN Award and was shortlisted for the International Griffin Poetry Prize, PEN America Award, and Best Translated Book Award.

The announcement of the award includes the following:

"Read the Judges’ Citation:
In her courageous and profoundly moving memoir By Its Right Name, Albanian-born poet and translator Ani Gjika reconstructs her personal history in Albania, America, and beyond, naming traumas that often remain unspoken. Gjika is unafraid to delve into the most taboo topic for a woman raised in a religious family within a patriarchal society: sex. The book that emerges is memorable, rich, and daring, simultaneously a portrait of Albania during the fall of communism; an exploration of language, desire, and power; and a bracingly honest sexual coming of age that unfolds across continents."


October 2, 2021 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 26, 2021

The U.S.’s Long History of Mistreating Haitian Migrants

Author Edwidge Danticat for the New Yorker ("The U.S.’s Long History of Mistreating Haitian Migrants") offers some background on the U.S. government's history of mistreatment of Haitian migrants.  Haitian interdiction by the first President Bush and President Clinton is part of that history.   Here is a Congressional Research Service summary of "U..S. immigration policy on Haitian migrants."

Hat tip to Carrie Rosenbaum.


September 26, 2021 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 24, 2021

From The Bookshelves: Local Citizenship in a Global Age by Kenneth A. Stahl


Kenneth Sthal is a law professor at Champan focusing on land use and local government. That said, his 2020 book Local Citizenship in a Global Age should be on immprofs radar given its discussion about "localities' flexible approach to citizenship."

Here's the publisher's pitch:

Although it is usually assumed that only the federal government can confer citizenship, localities often give residents who are noncitizens at the federal level the benefits of local citizenship: access to medical care, education, housing, security, labor and consumer markets, and even voting rights. In this work, Kenneth A. Stahl demonstrates that while the existence of these 'noncitizen citizens' has helped to reconcile competing commitments within liberal democracy to equality and community, the advance of globalization and the rise of nationalist political leaders like Donald Trump has caused local and federal citizenship to clash. For nationalists, localities' flexible approach to citizenship is a Trojan horse undermining state sovereignty from within, while liberals see local citizenship as the antidote to a reactionary ethnic nationalism. This book should be read by anyone who wants to understand why citizenship has become one of the most important issues in national politics today.


September 24, 2021 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Throwback Thursday: Detain and Punish: Haitian Refugees and the Rise of the World's Largest Immigration Detention System by Carl Lindskoog

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This week has been dominated by headlines regarding Haitian migrants at the Southern border. See Kevin's excellent coverage here, here, here, and here.

This current crisis must be viewed through the lens of our nation's historical treatment of Haitian asylum seekers. And on that front, I can think of no better Throwback Thursday recommendation than Carl Lindskoog's 2018 book Detain and Punish: Haitian Refugees and the Rise of the World's Largest Immigration Detention System.

If you're unfamiliar with it, here's the pitch:

Immigrants make up the largest proportion of federal prisoners in the United States, incarcerated in a vast network of more than two hundred detention facilities. This book investigates when detention became a centerpiece of U.S. immigration policy, revealing why the practice was reinstituted in 1981 after being halted for several decades and how the system expanded to become the world’s largest immigration detention regime. From the Krome Detention Center in Miami to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and to jails and prisons across the country, Haitians have been at the center of the story of immigration detention. When an influx of Haitian migrants and asylum seekers came to the U.S. in the 1970s, the government responded with exclusionary policies and detention, setting a precedent for future waves of immigrants. Carl Lindskoog details the discrimination Haitian refugees faced and how their resistance to this treatment―in the form of legal action and activism―prompted the government to reinforce its detention program and create an even larger system of facilities. Drawing on extensive archival research, including government documents, advocacy group archives, and periodicals, Lindskoog provides the first in-depth history of Haitians and immigration detention in the United States. Lindskoog asserts that systems designed for Haitian refugees laid the groundwork for the way immigrants to America are treated today. Detain and Punish provides essential historical context for the challenges faced by today’s immigrant groups, which are some of the most critical issues of our time.


September 23, 2021 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Judicial Review in Immigration Law EDUCATIONAL WEBINAR: 10/5/2021 at 11:30 AM EDT

Judicial Review in Immigration Law

EDUCATIONAL WEBINAR: 10/5/2021 at 11:30 AM EDT

Register Now

The United States’s marketing message as a land of opportunity relies upon the ideal that it is an inclusive nation embracing immigrants from the world over who want to improve their lives. However, the ideal stands in stark contrast to the nation’s long history of discrimination against immigrants on the basis of race, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, and wealth. From the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to President Trump’s travel ban upheld by the Supreme Court in Trump v. Hawaii, the U.S. immigration system has been designed and enforced to restrict the admission of noncitizens from the developing world. Thoughout history, and to the present, xenophobia and racism have indelibly influenced our immigration system. Yet, even as the criminal legal system has come under criticism for its systemic racism, immigration laws have largely escaped comparable critiques. This webinar explores how restrictions on judicial review in immigration cases have helped to perpetuate racism in immigration laws and their enforcement. More broadly, we discuss how to prepare students to understand and challenge racial injustice in immigration law and to use the law as a tool to advance racial social justice.

Date: 10/5/21

Time: 11:30 AM EDT

Register Now




Bill Hing

Director of the Immigration and Deportation Defense Clinic, and Dean's Circle Scholar

University of San Francisco School of Law


Jennifer Chacón

Professor of Law

University of California, Berkeley School of Law


Kevin Johnson

Dean and Mabie-Apallas Professor of Public Interest Law and Chicana/o Studies

University of California, Irvine School of Law

Register Now


September 21, 2021 in Books | Permalink | Comments (1)

From the Bookshelves: Beyond Borders:  The Human Rights of Non-Citizens at Home and Abroad. Edited by Molly Katrina Land, Kathryn Rae Libal, Jillian Robin Chambers


Beyond Borders:  The Human Rights of Non-Citizens at Home and Abroad. Edited by Molly Katrina Land, University of Connecticut School of Law, Kathryn Rae Libal, University of Connecticut School of Social Work, Jillian Robin Chambers, University of Connecticut

The publisher's description of the volume:

"States have long denied basic rights to non-citizens within their borders, and international law imposes only limited duties on states with respect to those fleeing persecution. But even the limited rights previously enjoyed by non-citizens are eroding in the face of rising nationalism, populism, xenophobia, and racism. Beyond Borders explores what obligations we owe to those outside our political community. Drawing on contributions from a broad variety of disciplines – from literature to political science to philosophy – the volume considers the failures of law and politics to guarantee rights for the most vulnerable and attempts to imagine new forms of belonging grounded in ideas of solidarity, empathy, and responsibility in order to identify a more robust basis for the protection of non-citizens at home and abroad. This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core."


September 21, 2021 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 20, 2021

From the Bookshelves: Migration in the Time of COVID-19: Comparative Law and Policy Resources

A launch of the e-book “Migration in the Time of COVID-19: Comparative Law and Policy Responses” will take place October 8 at 10am EST. 

The virtual event will take the form of a moderated conversation with the contributors to the eBook, which is co-edited by Jaya Ramji-Nogales and Iris Goldner Lang of the Univ. of Zagreb.  The authors, who wrote about Covid-19 border policies in Canada, North America, South America, Israel, and Europe, include several Immprofers – Audrey Macklin, Denise Gilman, Fatma Marouf, Tally Kritzman-Amir, and Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia (a full list of authors is below).  If you are interested in joining the conversation, please contact Jaya Ramji-Nogales for registration information and if you have additional questions.

Author list:

Audrey Macklin

Denise Gilman

Diego Acosta and Leiza Brumat

Elspeth Guild

Fatma Marouf

Gareth Davies

Kaitlyn Box and Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia

Luisa Freier and Marcia Vera Espinoza

Mari-Liis Jakobson and Leif Kalev

Matiangai Sirleaf

Philippe de Bruycker

Sandra Mantu

Sean Rehaag, Janet Song and Alexander Toope

Suncana Roksandic, Kresimir Mamic and Robert Mik

Tally Kritzman-Amir

Tesseltje de Lange

Vincent Chetail


MHC (h/t Jaya)

September 20, 2021 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Poetry Break: First Writing Since (Poem on Crisis of Terror) by Suheir Hammad

It's been 20 years since the horrific events of 9/11, events that, immprofs know, profoundly changed U.S. immigration.

I recommend reading Suheir Hammad's poem First Writing Since (Poem on Crisis of Terror). It was published in In Motion Magazine on November 7, 2001, not two months after 9/11. It's a long poem, so I'll simply entice you with this excerpt:

thank you to the woman who saw me brinking my cool and blinking back
tears. she opened her arms before she asked "do you want a hug?" a
big white woman, and her embrace was the kind only people with the
warmth of flesh can offer. i wasn't about to say no to any comfort.
"my brother's in the navy," i said. "and we"re arabs". "wow, you
got double trouble." word.

5. one more person ask me if i knew the hijackers.
one more motherfucker ask me what navy my brother is in.
one more person assume no arabs or muslims were more person
assume they know me, or that i represent a people.
or that a people represent an evil. or that evil is as simple as a
flag and words on a page.

Ten years after the publication of this poem, Hammad gave a TED talk on Poems of war, peace, women, power. It's a short 5:36 if you've got the time.


September 19, 2021 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 16, 2021

From The Bookshelves: Meatpacking America by Kristy Nabhan-Warren


Kristy Nabhan-Warren is the University of Iowa V.O. and Elizabeth Kahl Figge Chair in Catholic Studies. Her latest book is Meatpacking America: How Migration, Work, and Faith Unite and Divide the Heartland. Check out the publisher's pitch:

Whether valorized as the heartland or derided as flyover country, the Midwest became instantly notorious when COVID-19 infections skyrocketed among workers in meatpacking plants—and Americans feared for their meat supply. But the Midwest is not simply the place where animals are fed corn and then butchered. Native midwesterner Kristy Nabhan-Warren spent years interviewing Iowans who work in the meatpacking industry, both native-born residents and recent migrants from Latin America, Africa, and Asia. In Meatpacking America, she digs deep below the stereotype and reveals the grit and grace of a heartland that is a major global hub of migration and food production—and also, it turns out, of religion.

Across the flatlands, Protestants, Catholics, and Muslims share space every day as worshippers, employees, and employers. On the bloody floors of meatpacking plants, in bustling places of worship, and in modest family homes, longtime and newly arrived Iowans spoke to Nabhan-Warren about their passion for religious faith and desire to work hard for their families. Their stories expose how faith-based aspirations for mutual understanding blend uneasily with rampant economic exploitation and racial biases. Still, these new and old midwesterners say that a mutual language of faith and morals brings them together more than any of them would have ever expected.

Iowa touts the book as "a compassionate and balanced approach to one of the biggest industries in the state." And, I have to say, this review by author Felipe Hinojosa certainly captures the imagination: "Meatpacking America is so vivid: the blood, the smells, the slippery floors, and the sharp knives. I wondered how these workers ever got the stench off their bodies. Did it follow them to the grocery store? To church?"


September 16, 2021 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 13, 2021

From the Bookshelves: The Chinese Question by Mae Ngai

UPDATE: This event has been rescheduled for November 19, 2021.

Ngai talk 9-17-21

How did Chinese migration to the goldfields of California, Australia and South Africa both upend the global economy and forge modern conceptions of race?

Join Berkeley historians for a conversation with historian Mae Ngai (Lung Family Professor Asian American Studies, and Professor of History at Columbia University) about her remarkable new book, The Chinese Question: The Gold Rushes and Global Politics (Norton, 2021), with discussants Harvey Dong (Continuing Lecturer of Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies) and Chris Tomlins (Elizabeth Josselyn Boalt Professor of Law at UC Irvine), and moderator Lok Siu (Associate Professor of Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies).

Register here to join. If the Zoom capacity for the webinar reaches its limit of 100 attendees, those unable to access the webinar can view the conversation via livestream at CRG’s Facebook Page (

For more information, please visit the Center for Race and Gender’s event page here.

To purchase a copy from Eastwind Books of Berkeley, Click here and to purchase from Norton and read reviews, click here.


September 13, 2021 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)