Friday, December 15, 2023
2023 has been a busy immigration year. I soon will be blogging about the Top 10 Immigration News Stories for 2023. Stay tuned!
We have posted about many great new immigration books published this year. I am biased for sure but my 2023 Book of the Year is . . .
Wednesday, December 13, 2023
Chiara Galli (U. Chicago, Comparative Human Development Department) is the author of Precarious Protections: Unaccompanied Minors Seeking Asylum in the United States. Here's the publisher's pitch:
More children than ever are crossing international borders alone to seek asylum worldwide. In the past decade, over a half million children have fled from Central America to the United States, seeking safety and a chance to continue lives halted by violence. Yet upon their arrival, they fail to find the protection that our laws promise, based on the broadly shared belief that children should be safeguarded. A meticulously researched ethnography, Precarious Protections chronicles the experiences and perspectives of Central American unaccompanied minors and their immigration attorneys as they pursue applications for refugee status in the US asylum process. Chiara Galli debunks assumptions about asylum, including the idea that people are being denied protection because they file bogus claims. In practice, the United States interprets asylum law far more narrowly than what is necessary to recognize real-world experiences of escape from life-threatening violence. This is especially true for children from Central America. Galli reveals the formidable challenges of lawyering with children and exposes the human toll of the US immigration bureaucracy.
Tuesday, December 12, 2023
From the Bookshelves: The Great Escape: A True Story of Forced Labor and Immigrant Dreams in America by Saket Soni
The Great Escape: A True Story of Forced Labor and Immigrant Dreams in America by Saket Soni (Algonquin Books, 2023)
Here is the publisher's blurb on the book:
"In late 2006, Saket Soni, a twenty-eight-year-old Indian-born community organizer, received an anonymous phone call from an Indian migrant worker in Mississippi. He was one of five hundred men trapped in squalid Gulf Coast “man camps,” surrounded by barbed wire, watched by guards, crammed into cold trailers with putrid toilets, forced to eat moldy bread and frozen rice. Recruiters had promised them good jobs and green cards. The men had scraped up $20,000 each for this “opportunity” to rebuild hurricane-wrecked oil rigs, leaving their families in impossible debt. During a series of clandestine meetings, Soni and the workers devised a bold plan. In The Great Escape, Soni traces the workers’ extraordinary escape, their march on foot to Washington, DC, and their twenty-three-day hunger strike to bring attention to their cause. Along the way, ICE agents try to deport the men, company officials work to discredit them, and politicians avert their eyes. But none of this shakes the workers’ determination to win their dignity and keep their promises to their families.
Weaving a deeply personal journey with a riveting tale of twenty-first-century forced labor, Soni takes us into the lives of the immigrant workers the United States increasingly relies on to rebuild after climate disasters. The Great Escape is the gripping story of one of the largest human trafficking cases in modern American history—and the workers’ heroic journey for justice."
Kirkus Reviews says this about The Great Escape: "A searing exposé of corporate criminality and its governmental enablers."
Wednesday, December 6, 2023
I am excited to announce that the University of California Press has a new Critical Race Theory book series. Here is the website.
Raquel Aldana & Kevin R. Johnson, Aoki Center for Race and Nation Studies, UC Davis School of Law
Series Advisory Board
Mario Barnes, Professor of Law, UC Irvine
Rose Cuison Villazor, Interim Dean and Professor of Law and Chancellor's Social Justice Scholar, Rutgers
Angela Harris, Distinguished Professor of Law Emerita, UC Davis
Beth Rose Middleton, Professor and Designated Emphasis Chair, UC Davis (Native American Studies)
Solangel Maldonado, Eleanor Bontecou Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development, Seton Hall
Angela Onwuachi-Willig, Ryan Roth Gallo and Ernest J. Gallo Dean and Professor of Law, Boston University
Mary Romero, Professor of Justice Studies and Social Inquiry Emerita, Arizona State (Justice Studies and Social Inquiry)
Wadie Said, Professor of Law and Dean’s Faculty Fellow, University of Colorado
Contact the series editors if you have book ideas.
Tuesday, November 28, 2023
As we move into December, the "best of" lists are being compiled. The New York Times' Top 10 California books of the year, include several nonfiction books with immigrant stories.
Daughter of the Dragon, by Yunte Huang is a biography of Anna May Wong, the first Chinese American movie star. Their author feature for Yunte Huang indicates that this is his third book in a trio about Americans icons in popular culture (the others were Chralie Chan and Eng & Chung Bunker) and one of several tributes to Wong, in film and fiction, this year. An excerpt from the NYT book review says:
“Hollywood was obsessed with the exoticism of Chinatown, yet roles for Asian actors were exceedingly few; it’s therefore all the more remarkable that Wong, who was born in her father’s Los Angeles laundry in 1905, was as productive as she was.”
A Man of Two Faces, by Viet Thanh Nguyen is a memoir of the author, who left Vietnam as a refugee at age 4 and settled in San Jose, California. Nguyen is also a USC professor, winner of the Pulitzer Price (for The Sympathizer, which was also made into a TV series) and winner of the MacArthur Genius Award. An excerpt from the NYT book review:
“In the relative comfort of San Jose, where Nguyen has ‘everything I need but almost nothing I want,’ he learns that the secret to surviving a bifurcated upbringing is … keeping secrets, including his high school girlfriend, J, a Filipina refugee who lives three hours away and drains his comic book collection in long-distance phone bills. ‘In Ba Ma’s house,’ he writes, ‘you are an American spying on them. Outside their house, you are a Vietnamese spying on Americans and their strange ways and customs.’”
Tobar is unpreoccupied with settling on a fixed definition of ‘Latino.’ Instead, like a sculptor chipping away at a mass of stone, he is interested in revealing a human shape within it.”
Thursday, November 16, 2023
Wednesday, November 8, 2023
Need to hear an upbeat story in challenging times? The story of this Immigrant of the Day, Aquilino Gonell, is worth reading. The publisher Penguin Random House describes the book about him as follows:
“American Shield is an all-American tale of duty and determination—beautifully told by an immigrant, a veteran, and a patriot.” —Nancy Pelosi, Speaker Emerita of the United States House of Representatives
Here is a review of the book.
Hat tip to Dan Kowalski.
Tuesday, November 7, 2023
A SECOND graphic novel memoir in as many days? (Here's the first for the record.) Yes indeed.
Almost American Girl is an "illustrated memoir" by Robin Ha. Here's the pitch:
For as long as she can remember, it’s been Robin and her mom against the world. Growing up as the only child of a single mother in Seoul, Korea, wasn’t always easy, but it has bonded them fiercely together.
So when a vacation to visit friends in Huntsville, Alabama, unexpectedly becomes a permanent relocation—following her mother’s announcement that she’s getting married—Robin is devastated.
Overnight, her life changes. She is dropped into a new school where she doesn’t understand the language and struggles to keep up. She is completely cut off from her friends in Seoul and has no access to her beloved comics. At home, she doesn’t fit in with her new stepfamily, and worst of all, she is furious with the one person she is closest to—her mother.
Then one day Robin’s mother enrolls her in a local comic drawing class, which opens the window to a future Robin could never have imagined.
This nonfiction graphic novel with four starred reviews is an excellent choice for teens and also accelerated tween readers, both for independent reading and units on immigration, memoirs, and the search for identity.
I have something else to share about this book. On Youtube, I found a BOOK TRAILER for the work. I had no idea such an awesome thing existed. Excuse me while I now scroll Youtube endlessly for other book trailers.
Monday, November 6, 2023
Worm: A Cuban American Odyssey is a graphic novel authored and illustrated by Edel Rodriguez. Here's the official blurb:
Hailed for his iconic art on the cover of Time and on jumbotrons around the world, Edel Rodriguez is among the most prominent political artists of our age. Now for the first time, he draws his own life, revisiting his childhood in Cuba and his family’s passage on the infamous Mariel boatlift.
When Edel was nine, Fidel Castro announced his surprising decision to let 125,000 traitors of the revolution, or “worms,” leave the country. The faltering economy and Edel’s family’s vocal discomfort with government surveillance had made their daily lives on a farm outside Havana precarious, and they secretly planned to leave. But before that happened, a dozen soldiers confiscated their home and property and imprisoned them in a detention center near the port of Mariel, where they were held with dissidents and criminals before being marched to a flotilla that miraculously deposited them, overnight, in Florida.
Through vivid, stirring art, Worm tells a story of a boyhood in the midst of the Cold War, a family’s displacement in exile, and their tenacious longing for those they left behind. It also recounts the coming-of-age of an artist and activist, who, witnessing American’s turn from democracy to extremism, struggles to differentiate his adoptive country from the dictatorship he fled. Confronting questions of patriotism and the liminal nature of belonging, Edel Rodriguez ultimately celebrates the immigrants, maligned and overlooked, who guard and invigorate American freedom.
I first learned about this graphic novel over the weekend--I caught the following NPR interview with Rodriguez about his life and book:
Saturday, October 28, 2023
Race and National Security. Edited by Matiangai V. S. Sirleaf (Oxford University Press, 2023)
Here is the publisher's description of the book:
"On both a national and global stage we are witnessing a reckoning on issues of racial justice. This historical moment that continues to unfold in the United States and elsewhere also creates an opening to spark and revitalize debate and policy changes on a range of crucial topics, including national security. By surfacing the depths to which White hegemonic power influences our institutions and cultural assumptions, we gain more accurate understanding of how race manifests in national security domestically, transnationally, and globally.
In Race and National Security, leading experts challenge conventional interpretations of national security by illuminating the underpinning of White supremacy in our social consciousness. The volume centers the experience of those who have long been on the receiving end of racialized state violence. It finds that re-envisioning national security requires more than just reducing the size and scope of the security state.
Contributors offer visions for reforming and transforming national security, including adopting an abolitionist framework. Race and National Security invites us to radically reimagine a world where the security state does not keep Black, Brown, and other marginalized peoples subordinated through threats of and actual incarceration, violence, torture, and death. Race and National Security is a groundbreaking volume which serves as a catalyst for remembering, exposing, and reconceiving the role of race in national security.
The Just Security book series from OUP tackles contemporary problems in international law and security that are of interest to a global community of scholars, policymakers, practitioners, and students. With each volume taking a particular thematic focus and gathering leading experts, the series as a whole aims to rigorously and critically reflect on developments in these areas of law, policy, and practice. Each volume will be accompanied by a series of shorter digital pieces in Just Security's online forum at www.justsecurity.org, which tie the discussion to breaking news and headlines."
Matiangai V.S. Sirleaf is the Nathan Patz Professor of Law at the University of Maryland School of Law.
Andrea Armstrong, Dr. Norman C. Francis Distinguished Professor of Law at Loyola University of New Orleans' College of Law and 2023 MacArthur Fellow
Aslı Bâli, Professor of Law, Yale Law School
Monica C. Bell, Professor of Law, Yale Law School; Associate Professor of Sociology, Yale University
Adelle Blackett, Professor of Law and Canada Research Chair in Transnational Labour Law and Development, McGill University
Noura Erakat, Associate Professor of Africana Studies and the Program in Criminal Justice, Rutgers University, New Brunswick
James Thuo Gathii, Professor of Law and Wing-Tat Lee Chair in International Law, Loyola University Chicago School of Law; 2022-2023 William H. Neukom Fellows Research Chair in Diversity and Law, American Bar Foundation
Margaret Hu, Professor of Law and Director of the Digital Democracy Lab, William & Mary Law School
Yuvraj Joshi, Assistant Professor, Brooklyn Law School; Fellow, Harvard Carr Center for Human Rights; Faculty Affiliate, UCLA Promise Institute for Human Rights
Rachel López, Director of the Andy and Gwen Stern Community Lawyering Clinic, Associate Professor of Law, Drexel University Kline School of Law
Catherine Powell, Professor of Law, Fordham University School of Law; Adjunct Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
Jaya Ramji-Nogales, Associate Dean for Research & I. Herman Stern Research Professor, Temple University School of Law
Aziz Rana, Provost's Distinguished Fellow in 2023-2024, and then the J. Donald Monan, SJ, Chair in Law and Government beginning in 2024 at Boston College Law School
Friday, October 27, 2023
In his debut book Mi muerte a través de la frontera , author Adonay Milla describes the dangerous journey he made from Honduras to the United States when he was a teenager, his struggles living in New York and fighting for status, and the central role Safe Passage Project played in his life.
For those who speak Spanish, here's the official blurb:
En el mundo vas a encontrar gente mala y gente buena con diversas historias, que harán cambiar algo de nosotros día con día, que nos ayudarán a ser mejores personas. Sigue luchando por tus metas, sin importar lo lastimado que estés, no pierdas tu tiempo pensando en el pasado que ya pasó. El pasado no se puede cambiar, pero si lo puedes usar a tu favor. Crea tu propia oportunidad, no dejes que los demás te lleven por caminos equivocados y te hagan perder tus sueños.
For those who don't speak Spanish, Milla will soon be publishing an English-language version of the work: My Death Across the Border.
Safe Passage is hosting a live virtual interview with Milla on Novemer 8th at 1pm (Eastern) to discuss Adonay’s life, why he decided to write his book, and launch a seven-part newsletter series narrating Adonay’s journey in his own words.
To register, click here.
Thursday, October 26, 2023
In all honesty, Feminist Judgments: Immigration Law Opinions Rewritten isn't quite on bookshelves yet. It should be coming to bookshelves in November. But you can submit your pre-order now!
We've already previewed some of the chapters for you, including Wong Kim Ark rewritten by Jonathan Weinberg, Plyler v. Doe rewritten by Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia and Michael Olivas, and Department of Homeland Security v. Regents rewritten by Jennifer Lee Koh. The full book has these opinions and more.
Here's the official pitch:
This volume, part of the Feminist Judgment Series, shows how feminist legal theory along with critical race theory and intersectional modes of critique might transform immigration law. Here, a diverse collection of scholars and lawyers bring critical feminist, race, and intersectional insights to Supreme Court opinions. Feminist reasoning values the perspectives of outsiders, exposes the deep-rooted bias in the legal opinions of courts, and illuminates the effects of ostensibly neutral policies that create and maintain oppression and hierarchy. One by one, the chapters reimagine the norms that drive immigration policies and practices. In place of discrimination and subordination, the authors demand welcome and equality. Where current law omits the voice and stories of noncitizens, the authors center their lives and experiences. Collectively, they reveal how a feminist vision of immigration law could center a commitment to equality and justice and foster a country where diverse newcomers readily flourish with dignity.
Monday, October 23, 2023
I am so excited for this book. Everything that immprof Becky Sharpless (Miami) does is fantastic. This promises to be a fabulous read.
Here's the publisher's pitch:
In December 2017, U.S. immigration authorities shackled and abused 92 African refugees for two days while attempting to deport them by plane to Somalia. When national media broke the story, government officials lied about what happened. Shackled tells the story of this harrowing failed deportation, the resulting class action litigation, and two men's search for safety in the United States over the course of three long years.
Through Abdulahi's and Sa'id's firsthand accounts, immigration lawyer Rebecca A. Sharpless brings to life the harsh consequences of the U.S. deportation system and how racism and anti-Blackness operate within it. Sharpless follows the money that ICE funnels into local jails, private contractors, and charter jets, exposing a sprawling system of immigration enforcement that detains and abuses noncitizens at scale. Woven with the wider context of Abdulahi's and Sa'id's stories, this immigration odyssey reveals disturbing truths about Somalia, asylum, and the U.S. court system. Shackled will galvanize readers—attorneys, activists, policymakers, and scholars alike—to call out and dismantle this brutal infrastructure.
Friday, October 20, 2023
From the Bookshelves: Climate Migration: Critical Perspectives for Law, Policy, and Research, Calum Nicholson & Benoit Mayer, editors
Here is the publisher's description of the anthology:
This book investigates the epistemological and ethical challenges faced by studies exploring the relations between climate change and human migration. At the heart of the contemporary preoccupation with climate change is a concern for its societal impacts. Among these, its presumed effect on human migration is perhaps the most politically resonant, regardless of whether that politics is oriented towards human or national security.
There is, however, a problem: research on the causal link between climate change and migration has shown it to be a highly equivocal one. By extension, it remains unclear what - if any - response is required from law and policy.
Carefully structured to guide the reader through the issue of 'climate migration' in a logical and rigorous manner, this book is the first to bring together key critiques, caveats, and cautions in order to systematically examine the challenges facing law, policy, and research on the topic.
At a time in which both the effects of climate change and the causes of migration are of great public and political interest, and in which these interests are often fraught with sentiment and freighted with politics, the book brings dispassionately critical perspectives to bear on a topic that desperately needs it.
Wednesday, October 11, 2023
Rivermouth: A Chronicle of Language, Faith, and Migration is a 2023 memoir penned by Alejandra Oliva. You've got to be intrigued by this "starred review" from Publisher's Weekly: "With uncut rage and breathtaking prose, Oliva edifies, infuriates, and moves readers all at once. This is required reading." Uncut rage. Now that is an evocative description.
Here's the publisher's pitch:
In this powerful and deeply felt memoir of translation, storytelling, and borders, Alejandra Oliva, a Mexican-American translator and immigrant justice activist, offers a powerful chronical of her experience interpreting at the US-Mexico border.
Having worked with asylum seekers since 2016, she knows all too well the gravity of taking someone's trauma and delivering it to the warped demands of the U.S. immigration system. As Oliva's stunning prose recounts the stories of the people she's met through her work, she also traces her family's long and fluid relationship to the border—each generation born on opposite sides of the Rio Grande.
In Rivermouth, Oliva focuses on the physical spaces that make up different phases of immigration, looking at how language and opportunity move through each of them: from the river as the waterway that separates the U.S. and Mexico, to the table as the place over which Oliva prepares asylum seekers for their Credible Fear Interviews, and finally, to the wall as the behemoth imposition that runs along America’s southernmost border.
With lush prose and perceptive insight, Oliva encourages readers to approach the painful questions that this crisis poses with equal parts critique and compassion. By which metrics are we measuring who “deserves” American citizenship? What is the point of humanitarian systems that distribute aid conditionally? What do we owe to our most disenfranchised?
As investigative and analytical as she is meditative and introspective, sharp as she is lyrical, and incisive as she is compassionate, seasoned interpreter Alejandra Oliva argues for a better world while guiding us through the suffering that makes the fight necessary and the joy that makes it worth fighting for.
You can listen to Oliva discuss her work with NPR here:
Monday, October 9, 2023
Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa is a new-to-me memoir by Rigoberto González, first published in 2006. González is a professor of English and director of the MFA Program in creative writing at Rutgers University–Newark. He has published, so far, SEVENTEEN books--including both poetry and prose.
Here's the pitch for Butterfly Boy:
Growing up among poor migrant Mexican farmworkers, Rigoberto González also faces the pressure of coming-of-age as a gay man in a culture that prizes machismo. Losing his mother when he is twelve, González must then confront his father’s abandonment and an abiding sense of cultural estrangement, both from his adopted home in the United States and from a Mexican birthright. His only sense of connection gets forged in a violent relationship with an older man. By finding his calling as a writer, and by revisiting the relationship with his father during a trip to Mexico, González finally claims his identity at the intersection of race, class, and sexuality. The result is a leap of faith that every reader who ever felt like an outsider will immediately recognize.
If you're curious about the poetry of González, let me recommend Unpeopled Eden, a work inspired by Woody Guthrie's song Plane Wreck at Los Gatos (Deportees). There's one stanza that really sticks with me. It's describing the transportation used to deport individuals:
A strand of hair pretends to be
a crack and sticks to glass. A piece
of thread sits on a seat, pretends
to be a tear. The bus makes believe
no one cried into their hands and smeared
that grief onto its walls. The walls
will keep the fingerprints a secret
until the sheen of oils glows by moon.
Rows of ghosts come forth to sing.
The 1923 naturalization case, United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind, has become a flashpoint for multiple analyses of South Asian racialization in the United States, at times positioned as evidence of Asian exclusion and eventual triumph and, at others, an attempt to “claim whiteness” and inclusion through leveraging racist and casteist ideologies. In One Century After Thind, a special issue of UC Press’s journal Ethnic Studies Review, a group of scholars led by Guest Editors Soniya Munshi and Linta Varghese revisit Thind and in doing so, take up broader questions regarding migration, citizenship, caste, racialization, and naturalization.
Thursday, September 21, 2023
Nour Halibi is an assistant professor at the School of Media and Communication at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom. Her 2022 book Radical Hospitality: American Policy, Media, and Immigration has won the 2023 Outstanding Achievement Award from the Media, Communication and Cultural Studies Association.
Here is the publisher's pitch:
Radical Hospitality: American Policy, Media, and Immigration re-imagines the ethical relationship of host societies towards newcomers by applying the concept of hospitality to two specific realms that impact the lives of immigrants in the United States: policy and media. The book calls attention to the moral responsibility of the host in welcoming a stranger. It sets the stage for the analysis with a historical background of the first host-guest diads of American hospitality, arguing that the early history of American hospitality was marked by the degeneration of the host-guest relationship into one of host-hostage, normalizing a racial discrimination that continues to plague immigration hospitality to this day. Author Nour Halabi presents a historical policy and media discourse analysis of immigration regulation and media coverage during three periods of US history: the 1880s and the Chinese Exclusion Act, the 1920s and the National Origins Act and the 2000s and the Muslim travel ban. In so doing, it demonstrates how U.S. immigration hospitality, from its peaks in the post-Independence period to its nadir in the Muslim travel ban, has fallen short of true hospitality in spite of the nation’s oft-touted identity as a “nation of immigrants.” At the same time, the book calls attention to how a discourse of hospitality, although fraught, may allow a radical reimagining of belonging and authority that unsettles settler-colonial assumptions of belonging and welcome a restorative outlook to immigration policy and its media coverage in society.
Wednesday, September 20, 2023
From the Bookshelves: Drawing Deportation: Art and Resistance among Immigrant Children by Silvia Rodriguez Vega
NYU Press describes the book as follows:
"Illustrates how the children of immigrants use art to grapple with issues of citizenship, state violence, and belonging
Young immigrant children often do not have the words to express how their lives are shaped by issues of immigration, legal status, and state-sanctioned violence. Yet they are able to communicate its effects on them using art.
Based on ten years of work with immigrant children as young as six years old in Arizona and California— and featuring an analysis of three hundred drawings, theater performances, and family interviews—Silvia Rodriguez Vega provides accounts of children’s challenges with deportation and family separation during the Obama and Trump administrations. While much of the literature on immigrant children depicts them as passive, when viewed through this lens they appear as agents of their own stories.
The volume provides key insights into how immigrant children in both states presented creative, out-of-the-box, powerful solutions to the dilemmas that anti-immigrant rhetoric and harsh immigration laws present. Through art, they demonstrated a righteous indignation against societal violence, dehumanization, and death as a tool for navigating a racist, anti-immigrant society.
When children are the agents of their own stories, they can reimagine destructive situations in ways that adults sometimes cannot, offering us alternatives and hope for a better future. At once devastating and revelatory, Drawing Deportation provides a roadmap for how art can provide a safe and necessary space for vulnerable populations to assert their humanity in a world that would rather divest them of it."
Tuesday, September 19, 2023
Here is the publisher's description of the book:
"The unforgettable story of a family swept into history by the Cuban Revolution
history of Cuba drawing on decades of his fine scholarship, an intimate and fascinating chronicle of two intertwined families living through that long history, and a moving coming-of-age memoir, this highly original and beautiful book is something to be treasured." ~Ada Ferrer, author of Pulitzer-Prize Winner Cuba: An American History"