Monday, December 2, 2019

Immigration in Pop Culture: ICE Raid on "Shameless"



Immigration continues to influence popular culture.  In the episode that premiered yesterday, the Showtime show "Shameless," which in the past had a removal storyline, depicted an Immigration & Customs Enforcement raid on a Latinx household on the South side of Chicago.  Here is a recap of the scene:

"Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) continues to grow his relationship with Anne (Chelsea Rendon) as he helps her family with their business but when ICE comes knocking at their door, it's a hiding game for most of them. When Anne answers the door, Carl gets defensive for her and once the agents are gone he offers her a place at the Gallagher home."



December 2, 2019 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Alan Cumming: The racism behind anti-immigration rhetoric is palpable to every immigrant. Including me.


Born in Scotland, Alan Cumming is an American actor, comedian, singer, writer, producer, director, and activist who has appeared in numerous films, television shows, and plays.  He has commentary on Think decrying the nation's anti-immigrant rhetoric:

"America is such a young country: It's only a few hundred years old, and no one who has been here for only a few generations is without an immigrant connection. So, from the outside — from a place like Europe — the idea that Americans are not connected to immigration and our immigrant pasts seems like we are denying ourselves. We sound very self-hating about the very notion of immigration, but we're actually just confusing racism with a desire to fix the immigration system.

I see that all the time: Things that are being said about immigration and the ideals of immigration are basically just being used as a thinly veiled form of racism. It's so blatant. The president himself actually said he doesn't mind people coming from countries like Norway — white people; it's the people from `shithole countries' he doesn't want. It seems almost pedantic and obsolete to actually have to talk about the fact that it's racism."


December 1, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 25, 2019

60 Minutes: A widow recalls how her husband and daughter drowned in the Rio Grande



60 Minutes follows up on a major immigration news story last summer and an image of desperation was captured on the bank of the Rio Grande. The photo showed a father and his 23-month-old daughter, facedown in the muddy river. The two drowned trying to come to the United States. The report tells the story behind that photo, including the moment a mother, Tania Avalos, saw her husband and daughter swept away. Last month in El Salvador, Tania told 60 Minutes the story about her family and their journey to the United States.  It is heartbreaking:

"Oscar and Valeria's bodies were discovered the next morning, washed up on the Mexican side of the river. A photographer was there and snapped the now famous photo. Father and daughter in a final embrace.

In the days that followed, the image became a global symbol of the crisis at America's southern border. It prompted a brief moment of bipartisan reflection for a Congress deadlocked on immigration.

Within a week, Congress did pass an emergency multi-billion dollar package to hire new judges and build facilities to deal with the surge of Central Americans at the U.S. border. Since then, the Congress has not passed any immigration legislation."


November 25, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Five Films about Immigration and Belonging, intro by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Pulitzer Prize winner Viet Thanh Nguyen writes in the introduction to a NYT set of 5 op-docs on immigration:

"To love, to laugh, to work, to fail, to despair, to parent, to cry, to die, to mourn, to hope: These attributes exist whether we are Vietnamese or Mexican or American or any other form of classification."

Walk, Run, Cha-Cha

El Vacio


La Boca del Lobo

To be Queen


November 21, 2019 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 3, 2019

A New Entree to Nonimmigrant Work Visas: Public School Teachers

This 3 minute clip from CBS news is a great discussion starter for nonimmigrant visas. There's a lot to unpack: whether we want noncitizen teachers in public schools, whether the J1 visa is the right vehicle for public school teachers, what hiring of these workers means for USC teachers (much less striking USC teachers), who is reviewing the issuance of these visas (remember -- the J is the purview of DOS not DOL). It's bound to get your class talking!


November 3, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 24, 2019

At the Movies: The Unafraid

THE UNAFRAIDThey are undocumented. They are unapologetic. They are THE UNAFRAID.

87 Minutes. English & Spanish subtitles. Includes captions.


THE UNAFRAID is a feature length documentary that follows the lives of three DACA students in Georgia, a state that has banned them from attending its top public universities, and from qualifying for in-state tuition at any other public college. Using observational footage shot over three years, THE UNAFRAID tells the personal stories of a group of friends connected by an underground movement called Freedom University.

Through the stories of Alejandro, Silvia, and Aldo, viewers learn what it's like to be both a young American and undocumented in the U.S. at a time when anti-immigrant sentiment is growing, emboldened by a President who has issued orders to end DACA and restrict immigration. The narratives of their lives will intersect at protests and rallies, and then expand out from this unifying force to the personal daily challenges faced by them and their families. THE UNAFRAID goes beyond the media’s portrayal of the ‘dreamer’ poster child and truly humanizes the experience of undocumented and DACA students, their families and communities.


October 24, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

At the Movies: Day One


Bullfrog Films presents...Day One from Bullfrog Films on Vimeo.


DAY ONE follows a group of teenage refugees from war-torn countries who are enrolled at a unique public school for refugees and immigrants-only in St. Louis, MO, where they are guided through an inspirational program of education, healing and trauma intervention by devoted educators, some of whom have chosen to relocate to the inner city to support their students.

Over the course of a year, we watch the kids progress through layers of grief and loss as they attend school, forge new friendships, and prepare to be mainstreamed into local public high schools. Their triumphs and tribulations all unfold with St. Louis as the backdrop: a rust-belt city that has taken the bold step of welcoming immigrants as a solution for their growing socio-economic problems.



October 23, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Netflix "Living Undocumented" and Other Immigrant Stories


Netlflix new series "Living Undocumented" is getting some press attention.  Lorraine Ali for the The Los Angeles Times note that "`Living Undocumented,' from executive producers Selena Gomez, Aaron Saidman and Eli Holzman, relates the stories of eight families ripped apart by President Trump’s hard-line stance against undocumented immigrants."

Ali goes on to list some documentaries on the immigrant experience and further writes that

"Scripted television has also begun to tackle immigrant stories from a more compassionate perspective, moving beyond tropes that position Mexicans, Chinese, Indians and others as the punchline, if not an open threat. Immigrants now write and/or star in their own comedies, from `Fresh Off the Boat' to `One Day at a Time'” to `Master of None' to `Ramy.' Dramas such as HBO’s gripping `The Night Of'” and Netflix’s `Orange Is the New Black' have also delved into the communities behind the headlines, in addition to dealing with xenophobia in the justice system."


October 19, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 14, 2019

Adam Ruins Everything -- Christopher Columbus Was a Murderous Moron

To celebrate Columbus Day, check out this Adam Ruins Everything episode: Christopher Columbus Was a Murderous Moron. (Bonus: the entire episode is done like a Magic School Bus TV show!)

You'll never look at the holiday the same way again.

Too lazy to watch a five minute clip? Let me at least tell you that the myth of Christopher Columbus' discovery of America was started by the author of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow in 1828. Later, Italian migrants to Americans used that myth to facilitate their welcome into this country. And, in summary: Christopher Columbus was a "incompetent and vicious nobody."


October 14, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (1)

At The Movies: Trails of Hope and Terror

Are you looking for a new film to update your discussion of the Southern border? Maybe, like me, you're worried that Crossing Arizona is starting to look a little long in the tooth as a 2006 film. Well, check out Trails of Hope and Terror (2017).

It's short -- clocking in a 53 minutes, you can likely screen the whole thing in class.

Full disclosure: I haven't seen the entire movie yet. But just watching at the trailer, it feels like Crossing Arizona updated and, blissfully, shortened.


October 14, 2019 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 13, 2019

News from the Heartland: Attorney Sues ICE Injuries for Assault, Battery, False Arrest, False Imprisonment, and Emotional Distress


Andrea Martinez

News from the heartland.  A Kansas City immigration lawyer who was injured while trying to assist her 3-year-old client is suing the two immigration agents who allegedly shoved her to the ground and caused her injuries. Andrea Martinez claims to have suffered a fractured foot, bleeding, and a concussion after she was forcibly separated from her client, whom she was reuniting with his pregnant mother at a Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility.  The lawsuit names as defendants ICE agents Everett Chase and Ronnet Sasse and the U.S. government; Martinez seeks compensatory and punitive damages for assault, battery, false arrest, false imprisonment and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

A portion of the incident, which occurred on June 26, 2018, was recorded as part of the recently-released Netflix documentary, “Living Undocumented.”.



October 13, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Film Screening and Panel Discussion at OU Law


Last night, I had the pleasure of seeing the short documentary And Then They Came For Us. This 40-minute film is about Japanese internment. It pairs photographs taken by renown photographer Dorothea Lange with interviews from children interned and now grown (including actor George Takei). It also covers Fred Korematsu's failed legal battle against internment and the decades-late overturning of his conviction for violating the internment order. Interestingly, the movie connects the story of Japanese interment to the present-day Muslim ban.

The movie was followed by a panel discussion featuring Dr. Karen Korematsu (Fred Korematsu's daughter and the founder and executive director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute), Don Tamaki (one of the attorneys who worked on overturning Fred Korematsu's conviction), Professor Rick Tepker (OU Law), and Professor Taiawagi Helton (OU Law) -- moderated by Prof. Joseph Thai (OU).

Dr. Korematsu was a powerful speaker. She talked about her father's experience--his refusal to comply with internment, his recruitment by the ACLU to litigate the issue of internment, his hope and belief in the U.S. constitution and his rights as an American citizen, his unwavering belief that internment was wrong, and his ostracization by the Japanese-American community. Interestingly, Dr. Korematsu revealed that she did not learn about her father's legal battle until high school when a classmate did a book report on Concentration Camps USA. Following this revelation, she asked her father about his experience. He told his daughter that it happened a long time ago, he did what he thought was right, and the government was wrong. They didn't speak of it again until 1983 when Fred Korematsu fought to overturn his conviction.

Don Tamaki discussed the unusual evidence that laid the foundation for overturning Fred Korematsu's conviction decades after the disgraceful Supreme Court decision. He laid out the conspiracy engaged in by the Attorney General, Solicitor General, and Justice Department lawyers -- to suppress, alter, destroy, and fabricate evidence in support of internment. In short, the government argued that internment was justified on national security grounds because Japanese-Americans were spying inside this country. Yet there was no evidence to support this assertion.

Mr. Tamaki also discussed the Trump v. Hawaii lawsuit over the Muslim ban. While SCOTUS said in that case that Korematsu was wrong, "in the same breath" the court refused to ask probing questions about the factual basis for the government's assertion that the Muslim ban was justified on national security grounds. The court thus abdicated its constitutional role in the exact same manner that it did in Korematsu.

Prof. Rick Tepker, a constitutional scholar, talked about the legal precedents before Korematsu that counseled a different outcome. And Prof. Taiawagi Helton, an Indian law scholar, spoke of the internment of Native Americans before Japanese Americans and the comparable detention of migrant children and families since (all three occurring, in some form, just down the road at Fort Sill).

It was a wonderful evening brought about by the hard work of OU's American Constitution Society, Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, and Native American Law Students Association.

I encourage you all to see the documentary. And to consider bringing Dr. Korematsu and Don Tamaki to your campus as speakers. They do a remarkable job of placing the current period of "national stress," as Dr. Korematsu called it, in the context of the nation's very painful history of internment.


October 8, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Faces of Family Separation


CBS News has created a documentary showing the real-life impact that family separation has on children whose parents were ripped from them. As described by CBS News, “[t]he documentary provides an immersive look at the hotly debated issue through the eyes of those impacted the most — the fathers, mothers, sons and daughters separated and unaware when they’ll see their family members again.” 


October 8, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 30, 2019

At the Movies: Collisions (2018)



Showing later this week in the Los Angeles area.

Collisions (2018);  Twelve-year-old Itan’s promising life in San Francisco is turned upside down when she comes home from school with her younger brother to find her apartment ransacked and her mother taken away by immigration police. Suddenly she must rely on her estranged uncle, a big rig truck driver. Itan manipulates him into taking them across the country in his truck, trying to find her mother and stop her deportation.


September 30, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Acclaimed playwright's U.S. premiere canceled after immigration authorities deny crew visas


Nicole Acevedo for NBC News reports that veteran actress and playwright Conchi León had been looking forward to bringing a piece of her native Yucatán, México to the United States since March, but immigration authorities quashed her hopes a week before she was set to put on her play "La Tía Mariela" (Aunt Mariela) at the National Museum for Mexican Art in Chicago.

Mexico's Once Once Producciones had been working with León and the play's cast to present the U.S. premiere of "La Tía Mariela"  as part of Chicago's third International Latino Theater Festival.




"We built a new set design for this production, so it could be more travel friendly. We've been rehearsing for a long time with our band and the cast, we even turned down gigs to commit to this," León told NBC News in Spanish.

Days before "La Tía Mariela" was set to premiere in Chicago, organizers of the Latino theater festival announced the play's cancellation because the "U.S. Department of Citizenship Immigration Services (USCIS), under the current administration, has officially denied granting touring visas for the cast and crew."


We are sad to announce that we have had to cancel the performance of La Tia Mariela due to circumstances beyond our control. We appreciate your continued support for Latino theater, and we apologize for this inconvenience.


September 29, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

At the Movies: Adios Amor - The Search for Maria Moreno



In Adios Amor from PBS, the discovery of lost photographs sparks the search for a hero that history forgot—Maria Moreno, a migrant mother driven to speak out by her twelve children’s hunger. Years before Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta launched the United Farm Workers, Maria picked up the only weapon she had—her voice—and became an outspoken leader in an era when women were relegated to the background. The first farm worker woman in America to be hired as a union organizer, Maria’s story was silenced and her legacy buried—until now. These are the photographs that inspired Adios Amor. They were taken by George Ballis.  Here is one of the pictures.


In this story in Colorlines, Bill Berkowitz looks at Maria Moreno's work and the documentary.


September 29, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Nickelodeon's Dora The Explorer and Multicultural Progamming




NPR's Code Switch has an episode on how Nickelodeon's Dora The Explorer, which premiered in 2000, helped usher in a wave of multicultural children's programming in the United State. Latino USA hosts tell the story of how the show pushed back against anti-immigrant rhetoric — and why Dora's character still matters.  The beginning of the podcast details recent developments in immigration and enforcement. 






September 26, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

On Television: Internment and "The Terror: Infamy," A Series on AMC


Katie Cooper in a Los Angeles Times podcast looks at Season 2 of "The Terror:  Infamy," an American Movie Channel show that depicts life for Japanese Americans in internment during World War II. 

Set during World War II and the United States’ internment of Japanese Americans, “The Terror:  Infamy” weds a real-life horror story with a tale of the supernatural.  Showrunner Alex Woo says the second season of the anthology series "uses the horror genre to bring a story from the past into the present to represent the fear and terror of American citizens betrayed by their own government."  The show is cast with actors of Japanese descent and is very personal for many of the people working on it, including star Derek Mio, who plays Chester Nakayama, a Nisei or American-born Japanese. Mio’s grandfather’s family lived in the same Japanese American community portrayed in the show, the one that once existed on Terminal Island in San Pedro. Its residents were forced into internment camps after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The show also features George Takei, who was interned along with his family when he was 5 years old. Writers, directors and crew members also bring their personal and family experiences with the incarceration.




September 25, 2019 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Stories Beyond Borders Film Series Launches Nationwide







On September 24, Working Films will release Stories Beyond Borders, a film series that shares a comprehensive picture of the current day experiences of immigrants and their communities. This project was co-created with National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), National Domestic Workers Alliance, UndocuBlack Network, and United We Dream. Watch the full trailer here


Beyond building empathy, these films lift up real stories of resilience and strength, while illustrating ways people can give their time, energy, and resources to support immigrant-led efforts for justice. Screenings kick off today in Tennessee and North Carolina, and are followed by more in Texas, Colorado, Arkansas, Georgia, and Michigan. The series is publicly available for anyone to host a screening in their community by request. Every screening is free and open to the public, and includes a discussion facilitated by those leading efforts for immigrant justice in their communities. 




September 24, 2019 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Rosario Dawson on Challenging the Anti-Immigrant Narrative: ‘We’re Suffering a Crisis of Our Very Humanity’




Writing for the Daily Beast, actress entertainer Rosario Dawson, now dating Democratic presidential hopeful Cory Booker, asks that we change the narrative about immigrants by telling immigrant stories:

"Now, more than ever, we need to tell honest, nuanced stories about the 47 million immigrants and refugees living here in the U.S. I want to see stories that showcase my Peruvian-American neighbors’ brilliance! My Ghanaian-American collaborator’s feminist flair! And please, something more than another cooking show exoticizing “ethnic cuisine!” If one immigration story is symbolized by a wall, let our stories be the sledgehammer that can break through the hate and division, laying a new path forward of justice and human solidarity. 

That is why I’m so excited about the new show I helped make called The North Pole.

Launched last week, The North Pole is a dramatic comedy web series that I produced with an amazing nonprofit called Movement Generation. Set in Oakland, California, the show follows four young people as they navigate immigration struggles as well as raging wildfires, racial tensions—and hallucinogenic mushroom trips (because yes, we need comedy too!). At a time when so many of our communities and environments are under attack, this is our moment to flip the script by centering radical black and brown characters reclaiming their joy and speaking their unfiltered truth to the world." 

Here is a synopsis of The North Pole from its website:

"In its groundbreaking first season, The North Pole introduced us to Oakland’s favorite trash-talking, revolutionary polar bears: Nina, Benny, Marcus, and newcomer Finn.

Now in the aftermath of the police confrontation that rocked North Oakland in the Season 1 finale, Benny is locked up and threatened with deportation. When his radical lawyer convinces him that the best defense is a good offense, Benny decides to runs for office against the shady local Sheriff who is trying to deport him. In the process, he becomes the first undocumented immigrant to run for public office in America – only the first of many ways that his DIY, hilariously subversive campaign will be unique.

Meanwhile, wildfires rage around Northern California, and Nina, Marcus, and Finn face their own struggles with major health crises, racist family members, and ridiculously escalating Twitter wars. As Benny’s unorthodox campaign gains mass attention and spirals out of control, the four friends must somehow unite the neighborhood to defend Benny – and the place they all call home.

Written and executive produced by Josh Healey, directed by Yvan Iturriaga, The North Pole is executive produced by Rosario Dawson and Movement Generation. The show is co-executive produced by Favianna Rodriguez and Darren Colston."




September 22, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)