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 (0)

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)

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Project Corazon

Project Corazon is working to provide assistance to asylum seekers forced to remain in Mexico pursuant to the Migrant Protection Protocols/Remain in Mexico. Jodi Goodwin, whose stories we've been following (here, here), is participating in this program. Here is a short video about their work that would be a great addition to any class discussion about MPP/RIM.


September 21, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 16, 2019

Teaching With 13 Reasons Why Season 3


If you teach a unit on the life of undocumented citizens, consider using clips from season three of the hit Netflix show Thirteen Reasons Why. The timeline surrounding Tony Padilla (played by Christian Navarro) is super on point.

Check out episode 6 of season 3. I'd run 32:12-33:45. Tony is bringing his boyfriend home to meet the family but he finds an empty house. There's food cooking on the stove, the TV is on, but no one is there. Then a neighbor shows up and explains: "La Migra."

Follow this up with 50:47-51:33. Here's the dialogue:

Tony: My family got deported at the end of the summer.

Clay: Why didn't you come to me?

Tony: And say what, Clay? You can't save the world.

Clay: You can try to save your friends. I should've been there for you. Like you were there for me with Hannah.

Tony: I, there's a lot of shame involved, you know.

Clay: No, I don't know.

Tony: Maybe that's why I didn't come to you.

Clay: I love you man.

Tony: Love you too.

The concept of shame and deportation is very real. Like many of you, I ask my students to write about their family's immigration history. Nothing huge. Just a page. To center them on the course material.

One semester, a student wrote that a relative had been deported "for reasons I never wanted to ask." Perhaps the reason they didn't want to ask is tied up in the concept of shame that this television show captures.

Definitely good fodder for classroom conversation.


September 16, 2019 in Film & Television, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

At the Movies: Caravanas, A Documentary


The new original production follows the actual walk of migrant masses and analyzes the roots of one of the greatest social movements of our times. Discovery en Español

Watch out for this documentary.

Over the past year, Mexico has become the site of migrant caravans. The United States has witnessed the arrival of thousands leaving their home countries in search of a better life

Discovery en Español analyzes the origins of this phenomenon in CARAVANAS, the new documentary premiering September 22 at 9pm E/P in the United States. 

Following the actual route of thousands of people who emigrate from Central America and walk through Mexico to reach the United States, the one-hour special portrays the humanitarian work of Rubén Figueroa, a member of the Mesoamerican Migrant Movement; Gabriela "Gaba" Cortés, Ángeles de la Frontera's Cultural Activities Coordinator; and Estela Jiménez, an activist and migrants' supporter. They have all witnessed the caravan drama up close both in Mexico and the United States and have helped migrants fleeing violence and misery in a desperate search for a better life.


September 16, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

John Oliver on Legal Immigration and the GOP



As discussed on AV CLUB, John Oliver on Last Week Tonight explains how our legal immigration system works, and how it often doesn’t. Oliver discusses in a light but accurate manner on "waiting in line" when no line exists for many would-be immigrants, the per country ceilings, family immigration and "chain migration," employment visas, diversity visa lottery, and much more.

For Oliver, immigration is a personal issue, "having spent years going through the arduous, labyrinthine, and, under Trump, arbitrarily changing immigration system himself." Oliver came to the United States on a O1 visa “persons with extraordinary ability."


September 16, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 15, 2019

‘Party Of Five’ Reboot Takes Aim At Donald Trump Immigration Era


Immigration commentary continues to make its way into pop culture in the era of Donald Trump.  In the final season of Orange is the New Black, one of the plot lines focused on the harshness of provate immigrant detention.  Now, Dade Hayes for Deadline reports an a reboot of the television family drama Party of Five (1994-2000) that also focuses on immigration policy.

The reboot of the Fox drama Party of Five revolves around the approach of the Trump administration to immigration.

“It’s a better story than the original,” executive producer and writer Amy Lippman, who also created the original show, said after a sneak preview of the pilot episode Saturday at the Tribeca TV Festival. After periodically exploring a revival of the show over the years, she recalled, “Three years ago, we began to read stories about immigrant families that were going to be separated. It seemed as if the story that we told about kids living on their own in the wake of their parents’ sudden absence was a story that was playing out in newspapers everywhere. … It’s very timely and there’s an urgency to it.”

Instead of the car crash that took the lives of the parents in the original show, leaving their five children to cope and survive, the Freeform version has the undocumented parents deported to Mexico. 

The reboot will air on January 6, 2020/


September 15, 2019 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

At the Movies: El Norte -- A 35th Anniversary Event




Celebrate the 35th anniversary of this Oscar® nominated* classic from director Gregory Nava (Selena) with an exquisite restoration by the Academy Film Archive, supported in part by the Getty Foundation.  Check the website for details.

This film is a true classic and remains all-too-topical as the nation experiences teh latest asylum "crisis." And it can be a teaching tool for the immigration law professors out there!

After their family is killed in a government massacre, brother and sister Enrique and Rosa flee Guatemala and embark on a perilous journey to "El Norte": the United States. This timeless, visually epic story of Enrique and Rosa’s courageous struggle to make a better life in the U.S. as undocumented immigrants resonates today with remarkable force and remains an unforgettable portrait of the power of the human spirit.

This incredible experience will allow audiences to view the film’s Academy restoration with a new introduction by Nava and a featurette with stars Zaide Silvia Gutiérrez and David Villalpando, who portrayed the migrant siblings

*1984, Writing (Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen), Gregory Nava and Anna Thomas. Oscar® is the registered trademark and service mark of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.



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

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

John Oliver Tackles Prison Labor

Check out John Oliver's take on prison labor:

I don't know that I'll be using this entire segment in class. Since it's devoted to criminal incarceration, it's not a solid fit for my Immigration Law course. But I can definitely see using smaller clips for Crimmigration.

Here's the thing. We all know that private detention facilities function by having detainees do the work at less than a fraction of what an American would charge to do the same labor. Paying someone 1$ a day to cook for hundreds is pretty ridiculous when you think about it.

What John Oliver's piece does that is very clever is not only tell the tale of how much individuals earn but what they need to buy with their earnings: sanitary pads, telephone calls, and medical care, among other amenities. That's even before we get to the question of how much those products are upcharged by the detention facilities themselves.

A remarkable watch.


September 4, 2019 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 30, 2019

How Solitary Confinement Kills: Torture and Stunning Neglect Ends in Suicide in Privately Run ICE Prison



New York, NY – September 29, 2019 – The Intercept has published a feature story by journalist José Olivares, in partnership with PRI’s The Takeaway, focused on the suicide of Efraín Romero de la Rosa, a Mexican immigrant with a history of mental illness diagnoses who spent four months in ICE custody –– and died on the 21st day of solitary confinement at Stewart Detention Center.
The story also provides a rare glimpse into U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s detainee practices and excessive use of solitary confinement, revealing how detainees with mental illnesses are often treated in immigration detention. Backed by a successful public records request, which made available emails, investigation summaries, photos, and 18 hours of security camera footage of Romero’s last day at Stewart, Olivares’s feature shows that “CoreCivic staff at the Stewart Detention Facility may have violated their own rules when dealing with the mentally ill detainee.” 
Olivares continues: “From the intake process to the disciplinary process — and even on the night he committed suicide — the CoreCivic staff neglected to properly care for the man in their custody who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia.”
An accompanying 10-minute film by The Intercept video producer Travis Mannon documents the final 18 hours of Romero’s 21st day in solitary — his last day alive — by juxtaposing security camera footage and state investigators’ audio interviews with medical staff, correctional staff, and other men held in the same solitary confinement cell block. The film provides a harrowing but necessary account of the stunning neglect and publicly funded torture that drove a 40-year-old Mexican immigrant with schizophrenia to suicide.
Story link:


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