Saturday, October 24, 2020

At the Movies: The Undocumented Lawyer


The American Bar Association (ABA) Commission on Immigration and Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice jointly hosted a virtual screening of the film The Undocumented Lawyer and hosted a live Q&A. This HBO documentary short film, which follows Lizbeth Mateo, an attorney who is herself undocumented, as she fights for justice for her clients, is available to stream from October 18-24. The film will premiere on HBO in March 2021.

Professor Michael Olivas is one of the speakers who participated in the Q&A with the ABA.

Video of the Q&A is available here

The film is available for streaming here.



October 24, 2020 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Lawyers say they can't find the parents of 545 migrant children separated by Trump administration



"Lawyers appointed by a federal judge to identify migrant families who were separated by the Trump administration say that they have yet to track down the parents of 545 children and that about two-thirds of those parents were deported to Central America without their children, according to a filing Tuesday from the American Civil Liberties Union.

The Trump administration instituted a `zero tolerance' policy in 2018 that separated migrant children and parents at the southern U.S. border. The administration later confirmed that it had actually begun separating families in 2017 along some parts of the border under a pilot program. The ACLU and other pro-bono law firms were tasked with finding the members of families separated during the pilot program.

Unlike the 2,800 families separated under zero tolerance in 2018, most of whom remained in custody when the policy was ended by executive order, many of the more than 1,000 parents separated from their children under the pilot program had already been deported before a federal judge in California ordered that they be found."


October 22, 2020 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 18, 2020

America's Forgotten: An "Illegal Immigration" Film Generating Controversy



America's Forgotten is a controversial film released on the eve of the 2020 election that looks at "illegal immigration."  Expect President Trump and Vice President Pence to mention the film in the closing weeks of the campaign.

Paul Bond for Newsweek describes the film as "a documentary that explores death, torture and hardship surrounding illegal immigration in the U.S., a topic so sensitive that the film contains the following disclaimer: `Due to the possible political backlash all credits have been voluntarily withheld by the crew of this film.'"

Namrata Singh Gujral made America's Forgotten.  As described by Newsweek, she "is an actor-director who mostly makes narrative, campy Bollywood films that perform well in India, and also made 1 a Minute, a documentary about surviving cancer that stars Olivia Newton-John, Jaclyn Smith, Melissa Etheridge, Kelly McGillis and other famous survivors."

Fox News, not surprisingly, positively features the film.


October 18, 2020 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Joke of the Day (or last night)

Last night, VP Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris faced off in their one and only debate of this election season. Immigration never came up. Not even once. This did not stop late night host Jimmy Kimmel from raising the issue in his monologue last night. Check out the video starting at 0:46:

In discussing Pence's opposition to the installation of plexiglass between himself and Harris, Kimmel said: “Mike Pence believes that if you’re going to separate a man and a woman, it should be from their children at the border of the United States.”



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

New Episodes of Podcast The Other Side of the Water: Immigration and the Promise of Racial Justice


The Other Side of the Water: Immigration and the Promise of Racial Justice is a six-episode podcast series produced by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. and the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU School of Law. The series lays the groundwork for the upcoming conference Immigration, Equal Protection, and the Promise of Racial Justice: The Legacy of Jean v. Nelson  (and here) by exploring racial justice movements for Black immigrants and the influence of Jean v. Nelson

Episodes 1-4 are now available through the website’s podcast page. The series is also available on Apple and Spotify.


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

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Eddie Van Halen Dies at 65


Rock legend and previous ImmigrationProf Immigrant of the Day Eddie Van Halen ,has died at age 65 after a battle with cancer. 

Born in the Netherlands, Eddie Van Halen moved at age seven to the United States, settling in Southern California. Eddie was a naturalized U.S. citizen.

As CNN reports, "Eddie Van Halen, whose full name was Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, and his brother Alex Van Halen began performing together as teens, but formed the core of what would later become Van Halen after meeting David Lee Roth.

Over four decades, Van Halen released more than a dozen albums together.
Van Halen's guitar wizardry anchored the band through four turbulent decades of platinum albums, sold-out tours and a revolving door of lead singers, from Roth to Sammy Hagar to Gary Cherone and back to Hagar and Roth again."



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

Monday, October 5, 2020

Immigrantly, A Podcast


Looking for a podcast.  Check out Immigrantly:

"My name is Saadia Khan. I am a social entrepreneur and the founder and host of Immigrantly. Immigrantly is a weekly podcast that deconstructs the archaic stereotypes of what it means to be an immigrant, a child of immigrants, a person of color, and everything in between. Each episode brings a fresh perspective on the issues we address. Our conversations are complex, challenging, and often messy. But I wouldn’t trade the messiness for anything, because what we have created instead is a new, ongoing dialogue full of rich nuances."

The latest episode is on what's at stake in the 2020 election.


October 5, 2020 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

PBS Documentary on Proposition 187 and Change in Latinx Voting in California



Look out this week for the airing of a PBS SoCal documentary, “Prop 187: The Rise of the Latino Vote.”   It traces the history of a political shift following an anti-immigrant initiative passed by the voters in a landslide more than 25 years ago.  The measure ultimately mobilized Latinos to naturalize and register to vote, forever changing California politics.

Proposition 187 was a political watershed in California, where the politics of immigration has changed dramatically.  Once an anti-sanctuary state, contemporary California has declared itself to be a sanctuary state. 

Earlier this year, the UC Davis Law Review published a symposium marking the twenty-fifth anniversary of Prop 187's passage.  In that issue, I looked at what the legacy of Proposition 187 might be for the entire United States:

"This Article critically examines how Proposition 187 set in motion a chain of events that forever transformed California politics. That history poses an important — and seemingly incongruous — series of questions for the future of U.S. politics: will the aggressive enforcement measures of the Trump administration have political ramifications for the entire nation similar to those that Proposition 187 had on California? Might the responses to President Trump’s immigration policies lead to a political realignment on a national scale similar to that which occurred in California?"


October 5, 2020 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Immigration Revelation: A Podcast

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Immigration Revelationa 13-episode podcast hosted by immigration attorney siblings, Fiona McEntee and Raymond McEntee, and immigration advocate, Carolina Solano, debuts today on all major podcast platforms and on Each episode features candid conversations with immigrants whose origins and experiences span the globe.

"Immigration Revelation aims to amplify the inspirational voices of a diverse group of immigrants. As an immigration attorney, I'm so honored to have a front-row seat to these incredible stories and I am humbled that they are being shared with the world by the amazing immigrants themselves," says Fiona McEntee, creator, co-host, and executive producer of Immigration Revelation.

The debut episode features Belén Sisa, immigration activist and former National Latino Press Secretary for Bernie Sanders For President. Belén, a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recipient who is originally from Argentina, was thrust into the national media spotlight in March 2017 when she challenged the myth that undocumented immigrants do not pay income tax by posting her tax return in an online video.

Future guests include Elliot Collier (Chicago Fire Football Club, New Zealand), Mert Hilmi Iseri (SwipeSense Co-Founder & CEO, Turkey), Jennifer Muldowney (also known as The Glam Reaper, Ireland) and Maeve Higgins (comedian, actress, writer, podcaster, Ireland).

"The world is living a very important moment," says co-host and executive producer Carolina Solano. "One that is seeing a collective shift in how we perceive social issues around us and what it means to be an immigrant in this time. As advocates, we have a privileged opportunity to magnify the voices in our communities and ensure those are the voices carrying the narratives around their stories."

Ray McEntee co-host of the show tells us that "Immigration Revelation shines a bright light on some amazing immigrants. It's such a joy to be surrounded by these incredible stories on a daily basis and now, you get to hear them too!"

Immigration Revelation reminds us that immigration is not just a system, or law, or policy. It is a human experience. Each one is as unique and deserving as the next.

Recognizing the current moment in time, Fiona says, "With the election looming, our show aims to refocus the narrative around immigration and center humanity into these conversations."

Immigration Revelation is available for download through major streaming services and at


September 30, 2020 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

From the Movies: The Undocumented Lawyer

image from optimist.coA new HBO documentary follows Lizbeth Mateo, an undocumented attorney, in her fight for justice representing a client taking sanctuary in a church. 

For a limited time, you may purchase tickets to watch the film here. 50% of ticket sales will benefit The Legal Fund to Protect Asylum Seekers.

Here is a statement from the film’s directors, Chris Temple and Zach Ingrasci:

We met Lizbeth in 2017 when a close friend was seeking legal representation in immigration court. We immediately knew Lizbeth wasn’t a typical lawyer — the fight for her clients was personal and impassioned. 

At its core, Lizbeth’s story demonstrates that sometimes it’s necessary to ignore the law in an effort to fix it. Undocumented leaders like Lizbeth and her client Edith are on the front lines risking everything for more equitable immigration law, and the question is, will our communities and elected officials join them in that fight. 

Lizbeth says in the film that: “this country is about giving you the opportunity to actually fight.” We believe she shouldn’t have to fight alone. This film is meant to strengthen Lizbeth’s existing  community of supporters so she can continue to keep families, like Edith’s, from being unjustly separated by an inhumane immigration system.


September 22, 2020 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Building the American Dream on PBS

“Building the American Dream,” a new VOCES/PBS documentary, examines the effects of  construction booms in the American Southwest on Latino workers by telling the stories of those erecting buildings in Texas. The stories, however, could have been drawn from many moments and many places: Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, Denver, and Hobbs, New Mexico have all seen construction booms since the Great Depression. Homes and skyscrapers have popped up almost overnight thanks to cheap labor Latino immigrants provide contractors.

Director Chelsea Hernandez said she’d been working on the film since 2009 and its a microcosm of the exploitation Latino construction workers face in the U.S. 

The film, though a partnership with Latino Public Broadcasting, is scheduled to begin airing on most PBS stations on Tuesday September 15 to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States. It will also be available for streaming on PBS.



September 15, 2020 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 14, 2020

The Daily: Inside Trump's Immigration Crackdown




President Trump must be given credit for making immigration a prominent issue.  This summer, the Netflix original Immigration Nation has gained popular attention.

The Daily today  talks with filmmakers Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwarz,  the filmmakers behind the six-hour documentary series “Immigration Nation.”  The Daily speaks to the filmmakers about what they saw during nearly three years at ICE and how the Trump administration reacted to a cut of the film.

Since President Trump had campaigned on a hard-line immigration agenda, the leaders of the usually secretive agency jumped at a chance to have their story told from the inside.



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

Sunday, September 13, 2020

What's Crossing the Southern Border? Drugs? People? Nope, Toxic Waste

Tonight's 60 Minutes included a very jarring episode about the Southern border of the United States. It turns out that drugs and migrants aren't the only things crossing that border. So is toxic waste.

Watch the video. You'll never think about San Diego beaches quite the same way.


September 13, 2020 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 10, 2020



Wildfires have been blazing in the West for weeks.  Alleen Brown for The Intercept reports on the plight of undocumented immigrants in California's famed wine country:

"AS WILDFIRE SMOKE billowed into the wine-producing region of Sonoma County, California, workers continued harvesting grapes, day and night. Even in evacuation zones, where the safety threat from flames was severe enough for officials to ask residents to leave the area, the county agriculture commissioner invited workers to continue laboring in the fields, doling out evacuation-area access passes to dozens of agricultural producers. With undocumented immigrants — many of them workers from Latin American Indigenous communities — already economically drained after surviving months of the pandemic with virtually no government support, workers were in no position to decline an offer for work.

For the workers, their hands were forced by a combination of circumstances as toxic as the ash that falls over the region’s famous vineyards: the economic drive to keep the wine industry going; the lack of resources for non-Spanish-speaking workers; a near-total dearth of economic support; the economic stresses of the coronavirus pandemic; and a climate of fear around immigration enforcement that prevents the workers from asking for help.

What’s needed more than anything, advocates say, is an economic safety net in times of disaster so that people don’t have to accept perilous work and changes to immigration laws, so they don’t have to fear offers of help." (bold added).


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

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Fire Destroys Migrant Camp in Greece

A fire has left thousands of refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos without even the inadequate shelter they had at the Moira migrant camp.


September 9, 2020 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 24, 2020

John Oliver: The Wall, Part 2

Last night, John Oliver took a hard look at "The Wall," a topic he had already examined back in 2016.


August 24, 2020 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Immigration Prominent at Democratic National Convention


Last night at the 2020 Democratic National Convention, a video celebrated the contribution of immigrants to the United States.  The Convention website describes the video as follows:

"Set against the backdrop of President Obama’s remarks at a naturalization ceremony in 2015, the video features images of immigrants and refugees throughout American history, who through grit and determination came to America to build a better life for their families and themselves —and build a better nation for us all. The story of America is the story of immigrants, one which we should always cherish and fight for in our quest for a more perfect union."

In light of President Obama's immigration record, some activists objected to President Obama's narration of the immigration video.




There were other truly powerful immigration videos shown during the convention last night:



August 20, 2020 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Immigrant Chef José Andrés Has Served Americans 20 Million Free Meals

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Born in Spain and now a U.S. citizen, Celebrity Chef José Andrés has previously appeared on this blog (here and here). Stuart Anderson for Forbes reports that Chef  Andres has made a difference for man experiencing tough times:

"Through his charity, World Central Kitchen, Jose Andrés and his team have crossed America [to feed the needy during the pandemic]. By April, the organization became active in 22 cities.

When the crisis started, World Central Kitchen `worked with partners to coordinate delivery, via 160 distribution points, of more than 150,000 safe, packaged fresh meals for families in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Little Rock, Ark.; Oakland; New Orleans; Los Angeles; Miami; Boston; and Madrid. Across the country, the organization’s ‘Chefs for America’ online map pinpoints 346 restaurants and 567 school districts providing meals,' reported Time. In late March, Andrés even distributed `more than 13,000 N95 respirator masks . . .  to healthcare workers [in Washington, D.C.] fighting Covid-19 on the front lines.'

-         In Chicago, World Central Kitchen worked with Chef Lamar Moore and the Fifty/50 Restaurant Group to provide meals to healthcare workers and to help restaurant workers furloughed during the crisis with support and an opportunity to work.

-         In Washington, D.C., World Central Kitchen worked with the Washington Nationals `to provide thousands of free meals each day to Washington, D.C. residents who may have difficulty accessing food during the coronavirus crisis.' The Nationals allowed Andrés to `utilize the stadium’s enormous kitchens.'

-         In Austin, Texas, the organization works with the charity Frontline Foods to deliver at least 200 packaged meals daily.

-         In San Francisco, California, Frontline Foods has been providing meals to hospital staff and others affected by Covid-19.

-         By July, World Central Kitchen had helped serve over 20 million fresh meals around the country."

Thank you, José Andrés!



August 16, 2020 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Ekene Ijeoma's audio portrait of who counts in America

Ekene Ijeoma Counting

Professor Ekene Ijeoma's A Counting provides an audio portrait of American diversity by splicing together the voices of foreign-born Americans counting to 100 in their native languages. The audio portrait is intended to be a reflection on the 2020 census and how the census has historically undercounted minority communities.

Professor Ijeoma is a first-generation Nigerian American who grew up in Fort Worth and is now a professor at MIT. He says in an interview with NPR that he has been drawn to art and science since childhood and seeks to "bridge the gap between facts and feelings" with his projects. Other projects have included:

  • Creating an algorithm that erases a certain percentage of notes in the Star-Spangled Banner to reflect current rates of mass incarceration.
  • A partnership with an epidemiologist to create a 2018 sculptural work called "Pan-African AIDS," in which he uses etched plexiglass panels to sharply contrast rates of infection in Africa and the United States.
  • Recasting a Robert E. Lee monument in New Orleans 
  • An internet work, "The Refugee Project", that breaks down data to explain the ongoing crisis of more than 20 million displaced people around the world.


August 13, 2020 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Remove the Sword of Damocles from DACA by Michael A. Olivas and Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia


In Remove the Sword of Damocles from DACAMichael A. Olivas and Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia critically analyzed the legality of the Department of Homeland Security's recent DACA memo responding to the Supreme Court's decision in Dep’t of Homeland Security v. Regents of the Univ. of California.  Their bottom line:

"President Trump has cruelly vacillated on his support for DREAMers, saying he would take care of them and immigration reform “by executive action,” in remarks to reporter José Díaz-Balart. Ironically, it was his predecessor’s executive action and use of discretion that led Attorney General Sessions and DHS officials to determine DACA was “illegal.” This is the Gang that Can’t Shoot Straight, and they must now adhere in a timely fashion to the rule of law. Neither the Supreme Court majority nor we believe these officials acted in accord with their basic legal requirements, and they are wrongly continuing to behave in unlawful fashion. These students are a national treasure and deserve a pathway to permanent residence. Properly re-aligning DACA will not accomplish this, but Congress should do so. Now is the time for the Trump Administration to “love” DREAMers and properly administer this successful program, as they weigh their options. No matter the final decision, those would-be DACAmented students have kept their part of the bargain, and we owe them no less." 



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