Friday, January 17, 2020

Apple TV+: "Little America" Debuts, Shows Immigrant Journeys


Actor and comedian Kumail Nanjiani’s new TV series, “Little America,” debuts today.  The series “traverses the country and the globe, each installment tracking a different immigrant’s journey to or within the United States.” In an interview with Brandon Yu of The New York Times, Nanjiani shares his sense of optimism: “Maybe it’s a little stupid to be thinking like this right now. But I do feel optimistic in this country, and so the show obviously has that perspective in it, too.”

Here is how Apple TV+ describes the series:

"Inspired by the true stories featured in Epic Magazine, `Little America' will go beyond the headlines to look at the funny, romantic, heartfelt, inspiring and surprising stories of immigrants in America, when they’re more relevant now than ever."  (emphasis added).


January 17, 2020 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Trivia Break

Question: Can you name the two foreign-born directors who have each won two Best Director Oscars, but neither of whom have had their films win Best Picture?


Continue reading

January 14, 2020 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 12, 2020

At the Movies: 7 Movies That Represent Different Latino Immigration Experiences In The U.S.

Here is a list of movies that offer insights into differing Latinx immigration experiences. A few years back, Jorge Rodriguez-Jimenez created the list for Mitu. I am not sure that it would be the list that I would create but it is a place to start. 

Here are the seven films on the list:

  1. Under The Same Moon (Immigration from Mexico)


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3.  Sin Nombre (Hondureas)



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4.  Mi Familia (My Family) (Mexico).  This is a Gregory Nava film with Edward James Olmos, Jimmy Smits, and Esai Morales.  It includes Jennifer Lopez in one of her early film roles.



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5.  The Perez Family (Cuba)



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6.  Desierto (US/Mexico border)




7.  Entre Nos (Colombia)


January 12, 2020 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 10, 2020

Immigration Law Professor on "Morning Joe"




Immigration law professor and book author César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández recently joined the popular morning show "Morning Joe" to discuss immigration prisons and why he's calling for them to be closed.  Professor Garcia is author of the new and acclaimed book Migrating to Prison: Immigration in the Age of Mass Incarceration.


January 10, 2020 in Books, Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 9, 2020

At The Movies: Tolo Tolo

Tolo Tolo is an Italian comedy starring Checco Zalone. As The Times (UK) writes, the movie is about "an Italian sushi bar owner who flees bankruptcy to find work in Africa before he is forced to travel home to Italy through the Sahara and across the Mediterranean, seeing life through the eyes of African migrants along the way."

It's apparently made quite a splash in Italy -- breaking the country's opening-day box office record.

Here is one of the film's musical numbers:

No news about when this will show up stateside, but keep an eye out! And big ups to Liz Keyes for pointing me towards this treasure.


January 9, 2020 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

FRONTLINE: Targeting El Paso



FRONTLINE investigates how El Paso, Texas became the Trump administration’s immigration policy testing ground, and then the target of a white supremacist. Interviews with current and former officials, Border Patrol agents, advocates and migrants tell the inside story from the epicenter of the border crisis. Premiering at a special time — 10:30/9:30c — on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020 (check local PBS listings).

January 8, 2020 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

An 'Orange is the New Black' star is giving up her US green card to fight a 'climate war' in Australia



The world has seen the pictures and video footage of the devastating fires in Australia.  CNN reports that Orange is the New Black actress Yael Stone has said she is giving up her U.S. "green card" and returning to her native country of Australia in order to reduce her carbon footprint and fight the "climate war." Stone, who starred as inmate Lorna Morello in the Netflix show's six-year run, said the fires tearing through Australia motivated her to make the decision.


January 7, 2020 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 6, 2020

Multicultural Golden Globe News



The 77th Golden Globe Award ceremony was last night.  I found a couple of the awards worthy of note on the ImmigrationProf blog.

A native of New York, Ramy Youssef won the Golden Globe for lead actor in a comedy series for “Ramy,” a series about a first-generation Muslim American from an Egyptian family.   Meredith Blake writes about the Youssef's receipt of the award for the Los Angeles Times






Rapper and actress Awkwafina became the first woman of Asian descent to win a Golden Globe for best actress in a musical or comedy film for her starring role in “The Farewell,” Jonathan Landrum Jr. reports for the Associated PressThe Farewell is a delightful and insightful movie about a family that decides to allow a loved (and terminally ill) family member to live her last days in the best possible way.


January 6, 2020 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Film 'Knives Out' sparks question of how to tell immigration stories


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Want to watch a fun holiday season movie?  How about one that touches on immigration themes and issues of Latina/o identity?  If so, the hit Knives Out, which is directed by Rian Johnson and stars Jamie Lee Curtis, Daniel Craig, and Ana de Armas (who was born in Cuba) may be just for you.  A satire on murder mysteries, the film looks at the investigation of teh murder of a wealthy family patriarch.  Let's just say that the family and staff do not always behave in the murder investigation, reading of the will, and aftermath.  I found Knives Out to be a fun poke at the murder mystery genre.

Gwen Aviles on NBC News analyzes the debate generated by the movie and observes that it

"shows the tensions around Americans’ views of immigrants and the immigration process. . . . The movie . . . has inspired heated questions about how to tell immigration narratives ethically and effectively.

Following the movie's release, many praised its depiction of undocumented immigrants in the United States, as told through Golden Globe-nominated Ana de Armas' character, Marta, the nurse and caregiver of family patriarch Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer).

As the murder investigation of Harlan’s death unfolds, so does some of Marta’s backstory. Her mother is undocumented, having come to the U.S. from an unspecified Latin American country, and this fact consumes Marta daily. Worried about her family’s precarious legal situation, she tries to melt into the background, but the murder investigation — led by the whimsical Benoit Blanc (Craig) — launches her into a glaring spotlight.

Marta's employers are a family that includes both progressive, `New Yorker'-reading types, as well as alt-right conservatives who call Marta the pejorative term, “anchor baby." They've tolerated Marta for coming to the U.S. `the right way.' But when they discover their inheritances from Harlan’s will are threatened and that Marta has undocumented family members, they direct their animosity toward her — going so far as to frame her for Harlan’s murder and lord her mother’s status over her head." (bold added).

Latina/os in the United States come from many different national origin ancestries, from Mexico to Cuba to Honduras to Brazil to Peru.  Latina/os have great diversity in physical appearance, cultural traditions, and histories, and more.  Some Americans, however, including President Trump, view all Latina/os as a monolithic, homogeneous group As noted above, Knives Out protagonist Marta's Latina ancestry is left vague.    Carlos Aguilar on Remezcla notes that, over the course of the film, "white characters can’t agree on whether [Marta's] family is from Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay or Brazil."  

Judge for yourself at a theater near you whether Knives Out is good social commentary on immigration and Latina/o identity.  I give it two thumbs up!


January 1, 2020 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Documentary: The Faces of Family Separation


Adelindo and his daughter Angie are from Honduras. They made it to the U.S. side of the border, only to be separated in McAllen, Texas. CBS News



"I was separated from him. I was taken," Litzy, 7, said of being torn from her father at the U.S. border. CBS News

The CBS News documentary "The Faces of Family Separation" will air on CBS stations Saturday, Dec. 28, at 10 p.m. ET/PT, 9 p.m. CT.   CBS News correspondent Manuel Bojorquez shows us the impact the family separation policy has had on four migrant families. Each said they fled their homes in Central America hoping to find safety or a better life in the United States. But what families like theirs faced when they arrived at the border changed radically in April of 2018. That was when the Trump administration announced a "Zero Tolerance" policy.


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

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Must Watch TV: 60 Minutes Interview with El Salvador's President

You really have to see this 60 Minutes interview with El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele. Youtube has this small clip, in which President Bukele admits that his country does not currently have the capacity to accept asylum seekers from the U.S., despite his agreement with our country to do just that.

But I urge you to see the full 13:28 video that you can find at the link. President Bukele is remarkably candid with the reporter, Sharyn Alfonsi. He talks about how his country's economy is in shambles, how hard it is to combat gang violence, how the gangs have "de facto power" in his country. The report includes video of migrants being returned to El Salvador from the U.S. by plane. It includes video of the steps the reporter must take in order to cross between gang territory in El Salvador.

In short, this is 13 minutes of remarkable film. It will set the stage for reading cases like Acosta. It will set the stage for discussion Safe Third Country agreements.

I plan to use it in full the next time I teach immigration law.


December 17, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 16, 2019

Top 10 Immigration Stories of 2019


2019 had many big immigration stories.  The big news at the ImmigrationProf blog was the addition of a new superstar blogger.  Welcome Professor Ming Hsu Chen to the ImmigrationProf Blog!

If one is looking simply at changes to U.S. immigration law and policy, the biggest immigration news story of 2019 (like 2017 and 2018) unquestionably was President Donald Trump.  He probably has been the biggest immigration news story since his inauguration in January 2017.  For better or worse, no modern U.S. President has made immigration the priority that Trump has day in and day out.  President Trump is a virtually endless source of immigration comments, insults, tweets, and policy initiatives.   Law professors are indebted to the President for providing fodder for law review articles for many years to come. 

In addition to President Trump, here are my Top 10 Immigration News Stories from 2019, followed with some awards. 


Suporme court 

1.  Immigration in the Supreme Court

A wide array of immigration cases continue to make their way to the Supreme Court.  The biggest immigration case of the 2019 Term will decide the future of President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy.  In November, the Court heard oral arguments in three consolidated DACA cases in which the lower courts enjoined the Trump administration’s attempted rescission of DACA.  See the Argument Recap in DACA Cases.   A ruling in the case is expected at the end of the Term in June.  I predict a 5-4 vote.  Expect fireworks whatever the outcome.  Stay tuned!

The high Court has before it a full array of immigration issues, including the availability of damages for cross-border shootings, judicial review of a variety of immigration decisions, federal versus state power over immigration, the legality of expedited removal, and more.  For an overview of the Supreme Court's 2019 Term immigration docket, see Immigration in the Supreme Court, 2019 Term: DACA, Judicial Review, Federalism, Etc.


In a blockbuster decision at the end of the last Term in June, the Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote held that the Department of Commerce had provided unconvincing reasoning for adding a question on U.S. citizenship to the 2020 Census.  The Trump administration had made the addition of a citizenship question a high priority.   Joining the liberal justices, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority.  For an explanation of why he sided with the liberals, see Department of Commerce v. New York: Why the Supreme Court asked for an explanation of the 2020 census citizenship question.  Many Court watchers were surprised by the outcome of the Census case.  To add to the surprises, the Trump administration announced a few weeks after the decision that it was throwing in the towel on the citizenship question; consequently, the 2020 Census will not have a citizenship question.



President Donald Trump, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and Vice President Michael Pence.  Photo courtesy of Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images



Chad Wolf


2.  Turnover in DHS Leadership

2019 saw a game of musical chairs in the office of the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.  In April, Kirstjen Nielsen, rumored to be on the outs with President Trump, stepped down.  See Former Department of Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen Explains Resignation.  Next, the Acting DHS Secretary, Kevin McAleenan, resigned.  See Breaking News: Acting DHS Secretary McAleenan Resigns. He was replaced by another Acting Secretary, Chad Wolf, who at least for now remains in the position.



3.  William Barr Replaces Jeff Sessions as Attorney General

Who is the smiling man in the picture above?  He is the current Attorney General of the United States,  Judging from the picture, the current administration makes him happy.

In February, William Barr was sworn in as Attorney General.  He replaced Jeff Sessions, who had made enforcement of the U.S. immigration laws a high priority.  President Trump had reportedly lost confidence in Sessions.  Barr previously served as Attorney General under President George W. Bush.

The Attorney General, of course, heads the Department of Justice, which houses the Executive Office of Immigration Review (the home of the immigration courts and Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA)). 

Like Attorney General Sessions, Barr has intervened in cases before the BIA to narrow relief for removal.  See, e.g., L-E-A-, 27 I. & N. Dec. 581 (AG July 29, 2019) (narrowing "membership in a particular social group" for purposes of asylum).  Put simply, do not expect any slowing down of immigration enforcement under Attorney General Barr.  



Judge Dolly Gee

4.  Flores Settlement

The Flores settlement, agreed to by the U.S. government under President Clinton in 1997, governs the detention of migrant children and generally bars minors from lengthy and indefinite immigrant detention. The settlement made the news regularly in 2019. A short and sweet summary of the Flores settlement can be found at The Conversation: A Short Explanation of the Flores Settlement and Its Possible Demise. 


Throughout 2019, President Trump continued his effort to abrogate the Flores settlement. He has sought to detain migrant children, and all other migrants, indefinitely while their cases move forward in the immigration courts.  Judge Dolly Gee, who is monitoring the Flores settlement, rejected the latest effort to end the settlement.  See Federal Court Rejects Trump Administration's Effort to End Flores Settlement; Ninth Circuit Rejects Trump Administration's Latest Challenge to Flores Settlement, Holds that Soap, Toothbrushes, and Toothpaste Cannot Be Denied Migrants.


The bottom line:  The Flores settlement remains in place and no doubt will be in the news in 2020 as the Trump administration continues to utilize detention in its immigration enforcement efforts. 


5.  Public Charge and Other Trump Immigration Policy Initiatives

The Trump administration continued to press forward with new immigration enforcement efforts.  There are literally too many to list all of the Trump immigration initiatives.  But here are a few.

The Trump administration proposed a new, stricter approach to the public charge exclusion under the immigration laws.  The proposed rule has been criticized for making it too tough on immigrants of low- and moderate-incomes to come, or stay in, the United States.  The Ninth Circuit -- and later the Fourth Circuit -- stayed a nationwide injunction barring implementation of the proposed rule.  See Ninth Circuit Stays Injunction of Trump Public Charge Rule; The Nationwide Injunction in the Public Charge Case; Breaking news: public charge rule enjoined.

The Trump administration's  Remain  in Mexico policy, a novel approach that makes asylum-seekers wait in Mexico for their claims to be decided, remains in place and is controversial as ever.  

This year, the administration entered into agreements with El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras in an attempt to  better manage the flow of asylum seekers to the United States and deny relief to migrants who failed to seek asylum in countries on their way to the United States.  See DHS FACT SHEET: DHS AGREEMENTS WITH GUATEMALA, HONDURAS, AND EL SALVADOR.



Photo courtesy of Clarion Ledger

Departing from the practice during the Obama administration, the Trump administration has used immigration raids as an immigration enforcement tool.  During the summer, the President threatened to direct Immigration & Customes Enforcement to conduct mass immigration raids in cities across the country.  The threat struck fear in communities from coast to coast.  In August, the Trump administration on the first day of school conducted immigration raids at food processing plants in Mississippi.  Many children came home from school unable to find their parents.  See ICE Raids in Mississippi, 680 Arrested.



In November, news reports made the rounds that senior White House aide Stephen Miller had promoted white supremacist, anti-immigrant articles in emails to Breitbart.  Miller has been said to be the architect of the Trump administration's immigration policies. 

In April, there were rumors that President Trump was considering the possibility of completely closing the US/Mexico border.  Business interests raised concerns.  Such a measure would dramatically affect trade as well as migration between the two neighboring nations.  In the end, the President never followed through on the threat to close the border.  See Trump backs off threat to close the U.S.-Mexico border.

The state of California continues to resist the Trump administration's immigration enforcement efforts.  In April, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected most of the administration's challenges to California's sanctuary laws, which sought to distance the state from federal immigration enforcement.  President Trump and others in his administration continue to rail against the public safety risks caused by sanctuary cities.  See Ninth Circuit Rejects Bulk of Trump Administration's Challenge to California "Sanctuary" Laws.



6.  Immigration Court Backlog Hits One Million

In September 2019, the backlog of cases in the U.S. immigration courts' surpassed one million.  The enormous backlog affects every noncitizen with a hearing in the immigration courts, their attorneys, and the immigration judges.  The Trump administration's aggressive enforcement efforts contributed to the rapid growth of the backlog.   Noncitizens seeking relief from removal can expect long -- years in some insttances -- waits for a hearing. 



7.  President Trump Lowers Refugee Admissions

It has been said that  the world is experiencing a global refugee crisis.  Still, President Trump again decreased the number of refugee admissions.  See Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2020; Trump administration sets lowest cap on refugee admissions in four decades. Again.  On November 1, President Trump released the Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2020.  It provides for "[t]he admission of up to 18,000 refugees to the United States during Fiscal Year 2020 . . . ."  (emphasis added).  Criticism followed the announcement.  In 2016, President Obama had capped refugee admissions at 85,000.



Marie Yovanovitch


Fiona Hill

8.  Immigrants and Impeachment

As the nation well knows, Congress has been considering the impeachment of President Trump.   Over the last few months, Democrats and Republicans have regularly and literally been screaming at each other about impeachment.  In stark contrast, several key immigrant witnesses in the impeachment hearings kept their heads for the good of the nation.


In hearings on the impeachment  in November, immigrants played a vital role Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch is the child of immigrants who fled the Soviet Union and later the Nazi occupation of Europe. Born in Canada, she grew up in Connecticut and became a naturalized U.S. citizen.  Born in Ukraine when it was part of the USSR, Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman and his family fled to the United States. He joined the U.S. Army, earning numerous commendations including a Purple Heart for wounds suffered in combat in Iraq. Vindman is the Director for European Affairs on the National Security Council (NSC).  Fiona Hill, who until recently served in a senior position on the NSC, opened her testimony by describing herself as “American by choice.” Born in a hardscrabble coal mining town in Northern England, Hill came to the United States, attended Harvard, and became a citizen.  All of the immigrant witnesses left enduring competent impressions and important testimony.




9.  The Retirement of Professor Michael Olivas

One of the leading immigration scholars of his generation, Michael Olivas of the University of Houston Law Center, has retired from law teaching.   Here is a Guest Post: Celebrating Michael Olivas's Retirement

At the January 2019 annual meeting, the Association of American Law Schools honored Olivas with a lifetime achievement award.  See Immigration Law Values Program, Michael Olivas Honored

In 2010, Olivas was the ImmigrationProf blog's Outstanding Immigration Professor of the Year.   A mentor to countless law professors, myself included, Olivas is an esteemed immigration scholar (as well as a renouwned scholar in higher education, civil rights, and other areas) . For a review of his body of work, see Law Professor and Accidental Historian:  The Scholarship of Michael A. Olivas (Ediberto Roman ed., 2017).

Be on the lookout next June for Olivas' latest book on the DREAM Act and DACA.




Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Times

10.  25th Anniversary of Proposition 187

Contrary to popular belief, California, which produced two Republic Presidents in the twentieth centiry (Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan), was not always a sanctuary state and liberal haven.  Far from it.  In 1994, California voters passed the anti-immigrant milestone known as Proposition 187, which would have barred undocumented children from the public schools and stripped undocumented immigrants of virtually all non-emergency public benefits.  A federal court enjoined most of the initiative from going into effect.  Nonetheless, Proposition 187 prodded Congress in 1996 to pass two major pieces of tough immigration reform and and to eliminate immigrant eligibility for major public benefits program in welfare reform.

Times have changed and, in response to the Trump administration's immigration initiatives, California has declared itself to be a sanctuary state.  By spurring naturalization and increasing Latinx voter turnout, Proposition 187 contributed to the political transformation of the state and the ascendancy to dominance of the Democratic Party.  For analysis of Proposition 187 and its legacy, see

UC Davis Law Review Symposium: The 25th Anniversary of Proposition 187: Challenges and Opportunities for Immigrant Integration and Political Identity in California  Be on the lookout for the symposium issue from this conference, which will be available in spring 2020.

DACA, Proposition 187, and the legacy of the Trump immigration enforcement revolution

25 Years After The Passage of California's Proposition 187: The Beginning of the Political Transformation of California


Honorable Mention

There are many other big immigration stories in 2019.  Here are a few worthy of note:

El paso

1.  An Immigrant "Invasion": Words Used by Members of Congress as well as the President and the El Paso Shooter (August):  A sniper, who in an online rant had railed about the "Hispanic invasion," targeted -- and killed -- Latinx people at a shopping center in El Paso. 



2.  News from the US/Mexico Border: JURY ACQUITS NO MORE DEATHS VOLUNTEER OF FELONY HARBORING CHARGES (November):  The Trump administration loses a criminal prosecution of a humanitarian worker seeking to save migrant lives.  One can only wonder whether there were better types of cases for the U.S. government to prosecute.




3.  Death on the Border: NPR report: When Migrants Die, Many Bodies Remain Unidentified:  This is not really a news story.  In fact, deaths have been a fact of life for decades along the US/Mexico border.  I include it here lest we forget that migrantse regularly are dying while trying to make it to the United States.  This is a tragic impact of the nation's immigration enforcement policies that seems to not have penetrated the nation's consciousness.



4. Inaugural Issue of AILA Law Journal (Apr. 28):  The new American Immigration Lawyers Association Journal focuses on cutting edge immigration law issues.



 5.  Fox Apologizes for Graphic: "Trump Cuts U.S. Aid to 3 Mexican Countries" (Apr. 4):  No this is not a late April Fool's Day joke.  You can't make this stuff up.  The show "Fox & Friends" reported news of President Trump's plans to reduce millions of dollars in aid to three Central American countries for not doing enough to stem the stream of migrants to the United States.  As one commentator talked about the president “going full-court press on Mexico” and the co-host spoke of “cutting payments, aid payments, to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras,” a caption read "Trump Cuts U.S. Aid to 3 Mexican countries.”  This, of course, is a sad reflection on the state of education in the United States.


Immigration Article of the Year


The Interior Structure of Immigration Enforcement by Eisha Jain, 167 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 1463 (2019).  This article is a deep dive into immigration enforcement, going well beyond removals. It calls for restructuring immigration enforcement to consider the full impact of enforcement in light of the impacts of the immigrants present in the United States.



K-Sue Park

Honorable Mention: Self-Deportation Nation by K-Sue Park, 132 Harvard Law Review 1878 (2019).  Besides writing an incredible article, Professor Park should be praised for convincing the editors of the venerable Harvard Law Review to publish an immigration article.  The article analyzes the long history of self deportation policies in the United States.



Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia

Honorable Mention: Immigration Litigation in the Time of Trump by Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia.  How did Shoba keep up with all the challenges to Trump’s immigration policies?


Book of the Year


Ghosts of Gold Mountain: On the Chinese Immigrants Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad by Gordon H. Chang (2019).  A groundbreaking history of the Chinese workers who built the Transcontinental Railroad, helping to forge modern America only to disappear into the shadows of history. I loved reading this book while vacationing in the Sierras, not far from where the Chinese workers once toiled on the railroad.  




Honorable Mention: America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States by Erika Lee (2019).  The time is perfect for reading a book on the history of xenophobia in the United States.  Will a supplement and pocket part be necessary?



Honorable MentionMigrating to Prison: America’s Obsession with Locking Up Immigrants by César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández (2019).  After the events of the last few years, the entire nation should be considering the morality and policy-sense of mass immigrant detention.  Cesar Garcia's book offers critical analysis on "America's Obsession" with immigrant detention.







Immigrant Sportsman of the Year

José de Jesús Rodríguez Martínez, a professional golfer, currently plays on the PGA Tour.  He grew up in poverty in Irapuato, Mexico. At age 12, he dropped out of school and began caddying full-time at Club de Golf Santa Margarita. At age 15, Rodríguez crossed the Rio Grande and entered the United States. He worked in the United States for a decade, mostly as part of the maintenance crew at a country club in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Rodriguez then became a pro golfer.  See ‘The most unbelievable story in golf’: A treacherous border crossing was just the beginning of José de Jesús Rodríguez’s journey to the PGA Tour.  The Golf Channel is working on a documentary about Jose Rodriguez.


Photo of the Year

I could not resist ending the year without recognizing this photograph:



The photo was posted on March 3, 2019 in the post A Sign of the Times: Arkansas church sign -- ‘heaven has strict immigration laws, hell has open borders'.  

In April, the photo that showed the world the cruelty of the Trump administration's family separation policy, was honored with the World Photo of the Year Award.  See "Crying Girl on the Border" Wins World Photo of the Year Award.  This photo helped fuel the public outcry against family separation and led to the policy's demise.



John Moore/Getty Images/World Press Photo


Film Landmark




2019 marked the 35th anniversary of the classic refugee film El Norte.  The film tells the powerful story of a young Guatemalan brother and ister who fled the war-torn nation and journeyed to the United States.  It is a true classic.  Sadly, El Norte remains topical today as Central Americans continue to come to the United States seeking asylum from violence in their homelands.






December 16, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Law Review Articles & Essays, Photos, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Life Imitating Art? Immigrant Rights Group Demands ICE Restore Detention Hotline Featured in "Orange is the New Black"



I was a dedicated viewer of the Netflix show Orange is the New Black.  This season added an interesting twist to the study of a women's prison by adding immigration detention to the storyline.  That addition resulted in, as the Hollywood Reporter reports, life imitating art.

A national hotline for detained immigrants was shut down after it was spotlighted in Orange Is the New Black. Now, the group behind the hotline is demanding that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) restore the resource.

Today, Freedom for Immigrants filed a lawsuit to reinstate its National Immigration Detention Hotline, which was named on the show. The hotline was shut down Aug. 7, according to the group, echoing a plotline from the television show.


December 10, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

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)