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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: immigration, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. On unauthorized migrants and immigration outside the law

From news stories about unaccompanied minors from Central America to invisible workers without legal standing, immigration continues to stir debate in the United States. The arguments framing the issue are often inflected with distorted ideas and words. We sat down with Hiroshi Motomura, the author of Immigration Outside the Law, to discuss this contentious topic.

You use the term “unauthorized migrants” instead of “illegal” or “undocumented” immigrants. Why this choice of words?

This is a topic that is so controversial that even the labels provoke deep disagreement. The words “illegal” or “undocumented” often reflect very strong views. Because my goal is to explain what makes these debates so heated and then to analyze the issues carefully, I start with neutral terms, like “unauthorized” and “immigration outside the law.” I reach some firm conclusions about the nature of unauthorized migration and the best policy responses, but I try hard to work through the many arguments on both sides, acknowledging my own assumptions and taking all views seriously. This effort requires that I start with neutral terms.

What was the influence of the landmark 1982 US Supreme Court decision in Plyler v. Doe on our current discussion of immigration policy?

Plyler was pivotal. The Court said that the state of Texas couldn’t keep kids out of public schools just because they are in the United States unlawfully. It was a 5–4 decision, and we can debate whether the Court would come out the same way today. But Plyler it is much more than constitutional law. Plyler turned on three questions that remain at the heart of controversy. First, what does it mean to be in the United States lawfully––is “illegal” or “undocumented” more apt? Second, what is the state and local role in immigration policy? Third, should unauthorized migrants be integrated into US society—are they “Americans in waiting”?

A photograph of the May 1st, "Day without an Immigrant" demonstration in Los Angeles, California. © elizparodi via iStockphoto.

A photograph of the May 1st, “Day without an Immigrant” demonstration in Los Angeles, California. © elizparodi via iStockphoto.

Are unauthorized migrants “Americans in waiting”?

Many unauthorized migrants are Americans in waiting, meaning that their integration into American society should be recognized and fostered. Unauthorized migrants have contributed to US society, especially through work, often over a long period of time. Their contributions justify lawful immigration status and a path to citizenship. An argument that is just as strong, though less often heard, is that unauthorized migrants have come to the United States as part of an economic system that depends on them — to be tolerated when we need them and exposed to discretionary enforcement when we don’t. These two arguments aren’t mutually exclusive, and both find support in history and the reality of today’s America.

Can unauthorized migrants currently assert their rights within the US legal system?

Unauthorized migrants can assert rights in many settings. They can sue if an employer refuses to pay them. They have a right to due process in the courts. In many states, unauthorized residents are eligible for driver’s licenses and in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities. They are not relegated to oblivion. Why not? These rights recognize in small ways that unauthorized migrants are Americans in waiting. To be sure, broad scale legalization proposals in Congress attract a lot of attention, but mini-legalizations take place every day in settings where decision-makers at all levels of government acknowledge the place of unauthorized migrants in American society.

What have state and local governments done to address immigration outside the law?

The state government authority was at the heart of Plyler, and the state and local role has been controversial ever since. States and localities have tried to enforce federal immigration laws directly or indirectly. Arizona’s SB 1070 is a prominent example. At the same time, other states and localities try to integrate unauthorized migrants, through driver’s licenses, ID cards, and access to higher education, and by curtailing cooperation with federal immigration enforcement. Does federal immigration authority displace both types of state or local laws? I think not. The compelling reason to limit state and local enforcement is preventative––so state and local officials can’t enforce immigration laws in ways that are selective and discriminatory. This concern doesn’t apply when states and localities recognize or foster the integration of unauthorized migrants.

A version of this article will appear in the UCLA School of Law alumni magazine.

Hiroshi Motomura is Susan Westerberg Prager Professor of Law at UCLA. He is the author of Immigration Outside the Law and Americans in Waiting.

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2. 11 Educator Resources for Teaching Children About Latin American Immigration and Migration

What an amazing week to see the response of last Sunday’s post and hear what many of you are facing, doing, and aspiring to in schools and communities. In addition to using children’s books to initiate conversations, deepen background knowledge, and humanize the events, here are eleven teaching resources to help you provide the best information, context, and perspective for your students.

Amazing Faces mirror

  1. Colorín Colorado is a free bilingual service that presents information, activities, and advice for educators and Spanish-speaking families of English Language Learners. One of my favorite sections is “Reaching Out to ELL Students and Families” because it gives explicit tools on how to create a welcoming classroom environment, learn about our students’ backgrounds, and reach out to parents of ELLs.
  2. Educators For Fair Consideration (E4FC) offers educator guides to support teachers and school staff in supporting undocumented students in school and beyond graduation.
  3. Colorlines contributes award-winning daily reporting, investigative news, and analysis on issues of race with a subsection devoted to child migrants. They also have a campaign, Drop the I-Word.
  4. The Library of Congress has curated thousands of resources, especially primary sources and online exhibitions, on immigration in the United States providing critical historical context to current events. I strongly recommend checking out the presentation, Immigration: The Changing Face of America, where students can read the immigration history of specific ethnicities and races, and the Themed Resources: Immigration, where students can study the contributions of American immigrants.
  5. The staff at the Latin American and Iberian Institute (University of New Mexico) have created and organized thematic guides, lesson plans, and news articles for issues related to Latin America available at the Latin America Data Base.
  6. Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, provides award-winning educational materials to teachers, including immigration-themed units and lessons.
  7. Border Crossers has prepared a list of resources for adults to learn how to teach and talk about race and racial justice with students.
  8. The Migrant Policy Institute, a Washington, DC think tank, offers powerful analysis of global and regional migration. I want to underscore their visual tools, such as the International Migrant Population by Country of Origin and Destination map.
  9. Accompanying the two PBS documentary series, Latino Americans and The New Americans, are rich lesson plans and activities for grades 7 and up to explore the diverse experiences of coming to America.
  10. Latin@s in Kid Lit has an extensive list of children’s literature for those looking for more beyond our eleven book list, as well as interviews and teaching ideas.
  11. The MY HERO Project enables students to create, share, and discover stories, audio, art, and films that promote tolerance, peace, and diversity. Teacher resources are available at MY HERO Teacher’s Room.

art from Arrorró, mi niñoFor further reading:

11 Books on Latin American Immigration and Migration

What resources would you add? What resources do you recommend? Please share them with our community in the comments!


Filed under: Educator Resources, ELL/ESL and Bilingual Books Tagged: children's books, diversity, Educators, Immigration, Latino/Hispanic/Mexican, Race issues, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension

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3. Supporting and educating unaccompanied students from Central America

By Robert Hull and Eric Rossen


Since 1 October 2013, the United States has detained over 57,000 unaccompanied minors from Central America crossing the border from in an attempt to escape severe violence. Makeshift immigration shelters emerged, with emergency responders providing medical attention and care. Meanwhile, the government must now identify a response to what is now considered a humanitarian crisis, with an estimated 90,000 unaccompanied minors expected to cross the border in 2014.

Do we have a moral obligation to offer asylum or refugee status to people escaping violence or political persecution? What if they are children?

Should the children be deported to their families? If not, where will they go? Who will care for them?

Who bears the financial responsibility for meeting their needs?

The country seems split in its views. While most do not outright say these children should be returned to a country where their lives and well-being are in danger, concern remains about the country’s ability to sustain support for them physically, socially, emotionally, academically, and occupationally. In polls, some Americans say displaced families place a burden on housing, health care, and other public service industries, whereas as the majority believes they should be allowed to stay if it is unsafe for them to return home. As the debate continues, many of these children have arrived at the doors of our local schools hoping to enroll with minimal information or supports, with more anticipated to arrive as the new school year begins. Meeting their educational needs will be difficult, and according to the Department of Education, mandatory.

International school lunch

In May, the Federal Department of Education published Guidance on enrolling students regardless of immigration status. This guidance outlined the legal requirements concerning school districts’ responsibilities to enroll all students, regardless of immigration status. They did not include guidance in reference to provision of essential services that would lead to a successful education experience for these students. What is clear from this guidance, however, is that local school systems will be responsible for enrolling and educating the surge of students using local resources.

Immigrant and refugee students who arrive at the school house door after leaving their homes have typically experienced multiple adverse events prior to leaving and multiple adverse events during their travels. These adverse events can be traumatizing to students, not to mention navigating an unfamiliar country, sometimes with a completely unfamiliar language and low literacy, without parents or immediate family support available (resettlement stress). This often leads to serious disruptions in their access to education and their mental status upon arrival. Educators and school support personnel can mitigate some of the issues associated with these adverse events, and perhaps are among the most equipped and qualified to do so.

Many school districts and agencies have wide ranging experiences with displaced children. While the majority of children of immigrants are US-born citizens, over 15% are first generation immigrants, among which over one-third cross the border as victims of trafficking or seeking asylum. It’s safe to assume that many school districts have enrolled these students at some point. Even beyond immigration, following Hurricane Katrina, schools absorbed a high number of displaced students amidst extremely stressful conditions. Schools provide stable educational opportunities, exposure to trusting adults, an opportunity to interact with peers, and access to school employed mental health professionals. Many districts have partnered with communities to develop comprehensive supports and services to ease transitions and mitigate the effects of potentially traumatic experiences.

No matter what the circumstances that led displaced students to classrooms, there are a few strategies that can be implemented that will help in providing support to help these students learn and adapt positively to their new environment. As with many traumatized students, school personnel have to reframe the presenting problems as a result of their experiences rather than an indication of something being wrong with the child. For example, they must:

  • develop a structured daily routine as a foundation for support
  • connect students with other children of immigrants enrolled in schools (it is reasonable to expect that most schools in the country have displaced or immigrant families already in the community)
  • recognize and build on strengths, such as strong family ties, optimism, strong socio-centric values, resilience, and cultural diversity
  • acknowledge potential stigma associated with mental health supports
  • engage family or extended family as much as possible.

Providing these supports and other strategies require a coordinated effort between all school staff, including teachers, administrators, and specialized instructional support personnel. Doing so goes beyond a legal mandate from the Department of Education; it’s a moral and ethical obligation to provide the best available supports to all children, especially those with the greatest needs.

Robert Hull ED.S., MHS. is a school psychologist in Prince Georges County Maryland, He has worked for over 30 years in schools addressing trauma concerns. In addition to his degrees in School Psychology he also holds a graduate degree in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University. Eric Rossen, Ph.D., is a nationally certified school psychologist and licensed psychologist in Maryland. He currently serves as Director of Professional Development and Standards at the National Association of School Psychologists.


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Image: International School Meals Day at Harmony Hills Elementary School in Silver Spring, MD by USDA. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.

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4. Sharks, asylum seekers, and Australian politics

OUP-Blogger-Header-V2 Flinders

By Matthew Flinders


We all know that the sea is a dangerous place and should be treated with respect but it seems that Australian politicians have taken things a step (possibly even a leap) further. From sharks to asylum seekers the political response appears way out of line with the scale of the risk.

In the United Kingdom the name Matthew Flinders will rarely generate even a glint of recognition, whereas in Australia Captain Matthew Flinders (1774-1814) is (almost) a household name. My namesake was not only the intrepid explorer who first circumnavigated and mapped the continent of Australia but he is also a distant relative whose name I carry with great pride. But having spent the past month acquainting myself with Australian politics I can’t help wonder how my ancestor would have felt about what has become of the country he did so much to put on the map.

The media feeding frenzy and the political response surrounding shark attacks in Western Australia provides a case in point. You are more likely to be killed by a bee sting than to be killed by a shark attack while swimming in the sea off Perth or any of Western Australia’s wonderful beaches. Hundreds of thousands of people enjoy the sea and coastline every weekend but what the media defined as ‘a spate’ of fatal shark attacks (seven to be exact) in between 2010-2013 led the state government to implement no less than 72 baited drum lines along the coast. Australia’s Federal Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, granted the Western Australian Government a temporary exemption from national environment laws protecting great white sharks, to allow the otherwise illegal acts of harming or killing the species. The result of the media feeding frenzy has been the slow death of a large number of sharks. The problem is that of the 173 sharks caught in the first four months none were Great Whites and the vast majority were Tiger Sharks – a species that has not been responsible for a fatal shark attack for decades.

The public continues to surf and swim, huge protests have been held against the shark cull and yet the Premier of Western Australia, Colin Barnett, insists that it is the public reaction against the cull that is ‘ludicrous and extreme’ and that it will remain in place for two years.

800px-Whiteshark-TGoss1

If the political approach to sharks appears somewhat harsh then the approach to asylum seekers appears equally unforgiving. At one level the Abbott government’s ‘Stop the Boats’ policy has been a success. The end of July witnessed the first group of asylum seekers to reach the Australian mainland for seven months. In the same period last year over 17,000 people in around 200 boats made the treacherous journey across the ocean in order to claim asylum in Australia. ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’ has therefore ‘solved’ a political problem that many people believe simply never existed. The solution – as far as one exists – is actually a policy of ‘offshore processing’ that uses naval intervention to direct boats to bureaucratic processing plants on Manus, Nauru, or Christmas Island. Like modern day Robinson Crusoe, thousands of asylum seekers find themselves marooned on the most remote outposts of civilization. But then again – out of sight is out of mind.

The 157 people (including around fifty children) who made it to the mainland last week exemplify the harsh treatment that forms the cornerstone of the current approach. After spending nearly a month at sea on an Australian customs vessel they were briefly flown to the remote Curtin Detention Centre but when the asylum seekers refused to be interviewed by Indian officials they were promptly dispatched to the island of Nauru and its troubled detention centre (riots, suicides, self-mutilation, etc.). Those granted asylum will be resettled permanently on Nauru while those refused will be sent back to Sri Lanka (the country that most of the asylum seekers were originally fleeing via India). Why does the government insist on this approach? Could it be the media rather than the public that are driving political decision-making? A recent report by the Australian Institute of Family Studies found that the vast majority of refugees feel welcomed by the Australian public but rejected by the Australian political institutions. How can this mismatch be explained? The economy is booming and urgently requires flexible labor, the asylum seekers want to work and embed themselves in communities; the country is vast and can hardly highlight over-population as the root of the problem.

There is an almost palpable fear of a certain type of ‘foreigner’ within the Australian political culture. Under this worldview the ocean is a human playground that foreign species (i.e. sharks) should not be allowed to visit. The world is changing as human flows become more fluid and fast-paced – no borders are really sovereign any more. And yet in Australia the political system remains wedded to ‘keeping the migration floodgates closed’, apparently unaware of just how cruel and unforgiving this makes Australia look to the rest of the world. What would Captain Matthew Flinders think about this state of affairs almost exactly 200 years after his death?

From sharks to asylum seekers Australian politics seems ‘all at sea’.

Matthew Flinders is Founding Director of the Sir Bernard Crick Centre for the Public Understanding of Politics at the University of Sheffield and alsoFlinders author pic Visiting Distinguished Professor in Governance and Public Policy at Murdoch University, Western Australia. He is also Chair of the Political Studies Association of the United Kingdom and the author of Defending Politics (2012). Matthew is giving a public lecture entitled ‘The DisUnited Kingdom: The Scottish Independence Referendum and the Future of the United Kingdom’ on Monday 25 August. The lecture takes place at the Constitutional Centre of Western Australia at 6pm BST.

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Image credit: Great white shark, by Terry Goss. CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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5. Review – Vanilla Icecream

Vanilla Icecream 2You might as well know my weakness. It’s ice cream. Any flavour, most kinds, regardless of country of origin. I am extremely ice cream tolerant and I wonder if Bob Graham had similar thoughts when he penned his latest picture book masterpiece, Vanilla Icecream.

Vanilla Icecream is an eloquently articulated tale about a young curious sparrow whose world revolves around a dusty truck stop in the heart of India. He enjoys his existence and relishes his freedom with the blithe objectivity of all wild things until one day his pluck and appetite hook up with fate, which escorts him south across rough seas and through dark nights, eventually delivering him ‘into a bright new day’.

Unperturbed by his new environment in a different land, the truck stop sparrow chances upon a new eating hole and Edie Irvine, a toddler whose young life is inextricably changed forever because of him.

Bob Graham Graham’s dramatic narration of the little sparrow’s epic journey stuns you with its beautiful brevity and makes you want to follow the courageous new immigrant and know if Edie’s and his paths will ever cross again. This is a largely self-indulgent desire on my part as I get quite caught up in Graham’s snapshots of life, wanting them to never end. Nonetheless, end they must and this one’s delicious denouement is as immeasurably satisfying as a bowl of vanilla ice cream.

Vanilla Icecream EdieThere are numerous wordless pages in this picture book as Graham shapes much of the narration visually with his splendid, slightly sassy, culturally sensitive illustrations. Graham has the unique, unaffected knack of suffusing modern day nuances with old-fashioned appeal into his pictures that draw the eye of young and old alike deep into the story in spite of the apparent simplicity on shown on the page.

This story allowed me to sift through memories, mostly glorious of my own ‘firsts’ and it reminded me of my daughter’s wonderment when discovering her first time, life-changing tastes, notions, and realisations. What Vanilla Icecream evokes in you depends entirely on your own memories and attitude towards new people and new experiences, and your fondness for ice cream of course. However, you will be hard pressed to find a better way to introduce the complex ideals of human rights, fate, and immigration to young ones where a lightness of touch is more readily comprehended than harsh dry facts. As Amnesty International UK proclaims through its endorsement of Vanilla Icecream;

‘…we should all enjoy life, freedom, and safety. These are some of our human rights.’

Vanilla Icecream is quite simply a stunning picture book. Quiet and unassuming in its appearance. Complex and multi-layered enough to warrant spirited discussion with 3 to 103 year olds.

The perfect scoop.

Walker Books UK  2014

Bob Graham fans in our southern states should not miss the ACT Museum+Gallery Exhibition: A Bird in the Hand! Bob Graham: A Retrospective on now until 24th August 2014, in Canberra. A must see.bobgraham_banner

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6. 11 Books on Latin American Immigration and Migration

The-StorytellerAs media coverage has intensified around the events of children crossing the U.S. border, many educators and families are wondering, “What should we tell our students?” For some children, this may be the first time they are learning of these countries. But for many others, these events may involve their own heritage or depict their families’ experiences. Using books to talk about the recent events can be an opportunity to learn about a new region and help children see the cultures and people beyond these events.

We’ve put together a list of 11 books (many of which are bilingual English/Spanish) that teach about the emotional journey families and children must undertake along with the physical journey. These stories allow children to see each other and themselves in characters who are living life to the fullest and refusing to let any obstacle stand in their way.

Whether you are looking to explore the themes of the DREAM Act, learn more about the journey of one’s own family, or see America from a different angle, these books reveal the complexities, challenges, joys, and surprises of coming to a new place. Join these characters as they share their challenges and excitement in moving to a new culture and new school, helping their families adjust, and juggling their home culture with a new culture.

1. A Movie in My Pillow/ Una película en mi almohada

Poet Jorge Argueta evokes the wonder of his childhood in rural El Salvador, a touching relationship with a caring father, and his confusion and delight in his new urban home.

2. Amelia’s Road

Amelia longs for a beautiful white house with a fine shade tree in the yard, where she can live without worrying. In this inspirational tale, Amelia discovers the importance of putting her own roots down in a very special way.

 

3. First Day in Grapes

Chico and his family move up and down the state of California picking fruits and vegetables. Every September Chico starts at a new school again. Often other children pick on him, but Chico’s first day in third grade turns out to be different.

4. From North to South/ Del Norte al Sur

José loves helping Mama, but when Mama is sent back to Mexico for not having proper papers, José and his Papa face an uncertain future. Author René Colato Laínez tackles the difficult and timely subject of family separation with exquisite tenderness.

5. Home at Last

Ana Patino is adjusting well to her new life in the United States, but her mother is having a difficult time because she doesn’t speak English. After mama agrees to take English lessons, her sense of confidence and belonging grow.

6. My Diary from Here to There/ Mi diario de aqui hasta allá

Amada overhears her parents whisper of moving from Mexico to the other side of the border—to Los Angeles. As she and her family make their journey north, Amada records her fears, hopes, and dreams for their lives in the United States in her diary.

7. The Storyteller’s Candle/ La velita de los cuentos

The award-winning team of Lucia González and Lulu Delacre have crafted an homage to Pura Belpré, New York City’s first Latina librarian. Through Pura Belpré’s vision and dedication, the warmth of Puerto Rico comes to the island of Manhattan in a most unexpected way.

8. The Upside Down Boy/ El niño de cabeza

Juanito is bewildered by the new school and everything he does feels upside down. But a sensitive teacher and loving family help him to find his voice and make a place for himself in this new world.

9. When This World Was New

It is Danilito’s first day in America and he is scared. He has heard that some Americans are not friendly to foreigners. In addition, he does not speak any English. Danilito’s worries disappear when Papa leads him on a magical trip of discovery.

10. Xochitl and the Flowers/ Xóchitl, la Niña de las Flores

Miles away from their home in El Salvador, Xochitl and her family make a new home in the United States, but nothing is the same. It is not until her family decides to start a flower nursery in its backyard that Xochitl begins to learn the true value of community in their adopted country.

11. Calling the Doves/ El canto de las palomas

Poet Juan Felipe Herrera shares the story of his migrant farmworker childhood. The farmworker road was the beginning of his personal road to becoming a writer.

Jill_EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 


Filed under: Common Core State Standards, Educator Resources, ELL/ESL and Bilingual Books Tagged: children's books, close reading, diversity, Educators, events, Immigration, Latino/Hispanic/Mexican, Race issues, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension

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7. Undermining society – the Immigration Act 2014

By Gina Clayton


Immigration it seems is always in the headlines. While UKIP and others make political waves with their opposition to European free movement, immigration is said to be one of the biggest issues of voter concern. However, the issues that make the headlines are only a tiny part of the picture. Restricting immigration is treated as an uncontroversial objective. Some air time, though less, is given to the damage done to migrants by restrictive laws and policies. Very little attention is given to the damage done to the social fabric by those same laws and policies, and to the reality that measures targeting migrants have an adverse effect on all of us.

In the last months of 2013 and the first of 2014 the Immigration Bill made its way through Parliament. Surprisingly, as immigration was a dominant political theme at that time, its provisions received minimal media attention. Provisions of the Immigration Act 2014 include:

  • All rights of appeal against immigration decisions are abolished, except where the decision is to refuse international protection or where removal would breach the Refugee Convention or the appellant’s human rights.
  • Banks and building societies are prohibited from opening accounts for individuals ‘who require leave to enter or remain in the UK but do not have it’.
  • Driving licences may not be issued to those who require leave but do not have it.
  • Charges for health care are to be levied on all migrants.
  • Landlords will be subject to penalties if they let property to individuals who ‘require leave to enter or remain in the UK but do not have it’.

The abolition of rights of appeal against immigration decisions comes after years of attrition of immigration appeal rights, and it is only this previous attrition that reduces the impact of these new measures.

gavel

Interestingly, an earlier episode of attrition of appeal rights was commented upon by Tony Blair in 1992:

“It is a novel, bizarre and misguided principle of the legal system that if the exercise of legal rights is causing administrative inconvenience, the solution is to remove the right. […] When a right of appeal is removed, what is removed is a valuable and necessary constraint on those who exercise original jurisdiction. That is true not merely of immigration officers but of anybody.”

Some effects of s.15 Immigration Act 2014 can be predicted:

  • There will be no independent remedy for an individual who has suffered due to a mistake.
  • There will be less incentive to improve Home Office decision-making.
  • Studies, work, and life plans of migrants and their families will be disrupted.
  • Employers and universities may lose employees and students.
  • Judicial review will likely proliferate.

When a student’s studies are prematurely ended or a specialist worker has to leave the country, not only they but others around them are affected. As well as the employer or university, friendships, treatment plans, agreements with landlords, voluntary work obligations, all are disrupted. Migrants do not live in isolation.

Most of us can accommodate to misfortune, but injustice is harder to live with. If our friend, our student or our colleague has not been able to put their case, what is the effect on our confidence in our own system of government? There is no right to be heard. Does this not have an impact on our belief in what are famously described as ‘British values’?

The prohibition on holding a driving licence, opening a bank or building society account not only affects the person who cannot get access to these basic features of ordinary life in the UK, it also affects the person who must decide whether to issue a licence or open an account.

A bank or building society employee must now assess a potential customer’s immigration status. Whether they wish to do so or not, the staff member is exercising a form of internal immigration control.

Bank and building society accounts have become essential to live ordinary life in the United Kingdom. People will be denied access to these facilities on faulty grounds. Bank and building society employees will find that their relationship with their customers has changed from service to scrutiny. All of us will be subject to immigration status checks.

The measures restricting access to private tenancies, bank and building society accounts and driving licences are not, as such, immigration control. They are penalties on those already resident. They apply not only to government matters but also to purely commercial and private transactions. They insert mutual surveillance into social relationships.

It was revealed by Sarah Teather MP that the government working group some of whose policies found their way into the Immigration Act was called ‘the Hostile Environment Working Group’. In the Immigration Act we are being recruited to the project of the hostile environment. We are required to treat other people as disentitled, not to a government benefit, which in the end we know is determined by government, but to a private facility. This asks us to change our perceptions of each other, and as such is hostile to us all.

Gina Clayton works on European asylum and migration projects, including reports for the Fundamental Rights Agency and the AIDA database, chairs refugee charities in South Yorkshire, and is an OISC adviser on asylum law. She is the author of Textbook on Immigration and Asylum Law.

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Image credit: Gavel. By Kuzma, via iStockphoto.

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8. Five reasons why Spain has a stubbornly high unemployment rate of 26%

By William Chislett


The Spanish economy roared along like a high-speed train for a decade until it slowed down dramatically in 2008. Only recently has it emerged from a five-year recession. But the jobless rate has tripled to 26% (four times the US level) and will not return to its pre-crisis level for up to a decade. Why is this?

640px-Palacio_Real_de_Madrid

(1)   The economic model was excessively based on the shaky foundations of bricks and mortar.

Between 2000 and 2009, Spain accounted for around 30% of all new homes built in the European Union (EU), although its economy only generated around 10% of the EU’s total GDP. In one year alone (2006), the number of housing starts (762,214) was more than Germany, France, and Italy combined. After Spain joined the euro in 1999, interest rates were low, property was seen as a good investment in a country with very high home ownership (85%), and there was a high foreign demand for holiday and retirement homes due to the 60 million tourists who visited Spain annually.

When the property bubble burst, jobs were destroyed as quickly as they had been created. As construction is a labor intensive sector, its collapse reverberated through other areas of the economy. Between 2002 and 2007, the total number of jobholders, many of them on temporary contracts, rose by a massive 4.1 million, a much steeper rise than in any other EU country and more than three times higher than the number created in the preceding 16 years. Since 2008, more than 3 million jobs have been lost, around half of them in the construction and related sectors.

(2)   Labor market laws were too rigid.

Spain has a dysfunctional labor market: even at the peak of the economic boom in 2007, the unemployment rate was 8%, a high rate by US standards. At the hiring end, Spain’s labor market laws were very flexible, largely as a result of widespread use and abuse of temporary contracts, but at the firing end, severance payments were higher than in comparable countries. This made employers reluctant to put workers on permanent contracts. The reforms approved in 2012 by the conservative government of the Popular Party, which returned to power at the end of 2011, lowered dismissal costs and gave companies the upper hand, depending on their financial health, in collective wage bargaining agreements between management and unions. The reforms have yet to have a discernible impact on job creation. They have, however, lowered the GDP growth threshold for net job creation from around 2% to 1.3%. The Spanish economy is expected to grow by more than 1% this year.

(3)   The property sector caused a banking crisis and corruption to flourish.

The 45 regionally-based and unlisted savings banks, which accounted for around half Spain’s financial system, were closely connected to politicians and businessmen. Many of them made reckless loans to developers and were massively exposed to the property sector when it crashed. The reclassification of land for building purposes and the granting of building permits, in the hands of local authorities, created a breeding ground for corruption. Bad loans soared from 0.7% of total credit in 2007 to more than 13%. The European Stability Mechanism came to the rescue of some banks in 2012 with a €41 billion bail-out package in return for sweeping reforms. The number of savings banks has been reduced to seven, with high job losses. Spain exited the bail out in January.

Spain was ranked 40th out of 177 countries in the latest corruption perceptions ranking by the Berlin-based Transparency International, down seven places from the year before. Its score of 59 was six points lower than its previous score in 2012, in a numerical index where the cleanest countries are those closest to a score of 100. Spain lost more points than almost every other country, topped only by war-torn Syria.

(4)   The education system is in crisis.

The education system is holding back the need to create a more sustainable economic model. One in every four people in Spain between the ages of 18 and 24 are early school leavers, double the EU average but down from a peak of one-third during the economic boom, when students dropped out of school at 16 and flocked in droves to work in the construction and related sectors. Almost one-quarter of 15-29 year-olds are not in education, training, or employment. Results in the OECD’s Pisa international tests in reading, mathematics, and scientific knowledge for 15-year-old students and for fourth-grade children in the TIMS and PIRLS tests are also poor. No Spanish university is among the world’s top 200 in the main academic rankings. Research, development and innovation spending, at 1.3% of GDP, is way below that of other developed economies. In these conditions, the creation of a more knowledge-based economy is something of a pipe dream, and the brightest young scientists and engineers are emigrating.

(5)   Spain received more immigrants in a decade than any other European country.

Immigrants were lured to Spain when the economy began to expand rapidly. Their number soared from more than 900,000 in 1995 to 5.7 million in 2012, the largest increase in a European country in the shortest time. They were particularly needed in the construction and agricultural sectors, as there were not enough Spaniards prepared to work in them. At the peak of the boom in 2007, more than half of the 3.3 million non-EU immigrants in Spain worked in the construction sector. When the economy went into recession, immigrants bore a large part of the surge in the unemployment, as many of them were on temporary contracts and were the first to lose their jobs. The jobless rate among immigrants (37%) is much higher than that for Spaniards (24%). Immigrants only began to return to their countries in significant numbers in 2012 and Spain’s population declined by 500,000 in 2013, an unprecedented fall in the country’s modern history.

William Chislett is the author of Spain: What Everyone Needs to Know. He is a journalist who has lived in Madrid since 1986. He covered Spain’s transition to democracy (1975-78) for The Times of London and was later the Mexico correspondent for the Financial Times (1978-84). He writes about Spain for the Elcano Royal Institute, which has published three books of his on the country, and he has a weekly column in the online newspaper, El Imparcial.

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Image credit: “Palacio Real” by Bepo2. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.

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9. #557 – Larry and Friends by Nat Jaspar & Carla Torres

Larry&Friends-CoverLarry and Friends

written by Nat Jaspar

created and illustrated by Carla Torres

Tangerine Books    3/01/2014

978-1-62847-473-2

Age 7+       48 pages

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“Larry and Friends is a captivating story about immigration and integration told in both English and Spanish language versions. The protagonist, Larry the Dog, is a juggler from Brooklyn and his friends are a diverse set of animals from all over the world. The story recounts why the characters end up relocating to New York City, how they became friends with Larry and how life has taught them a thing or two.”

Opening

“Every day should be a happy day. At least that’s what Larry the dog thinks.”

The Story

Today is Larry’s birthday. All of his friends, from all over the world, arrive to celebrate. Living in New York has given him the  opportunity to meet and befriend so many creatures that are both interesting  and unique in both body and spirit. As Larry is making last minute preparations for his birthday celebration, the doorbell rings. “Ringadingadong!” Who could that be this early?

It is Magda, the Polish Pig. Magda is Larry’s partner, very good at organizing, and she should be able to help Larry get all his last minute decorations ready for the party. Not long after, “Ringadingadong!” Henrick, the Irish Hare has arrived bearing a birthday gift for Larry: a special song he wrote just for Larry. Henrick is fond of craic, which means having a fun time with good conversation. All through the evening the doorbell rings, “Ringadingadong!” New and old friends from near and far show up at Larry’s doorstep, all with a unique skill, family background, and a gift for Larry. The reader learns about each guest, barely finishing before the doorbell rings, “Ringadingadong!”

Review

Larry and Friends is a fast moving introduction to some amazing and definitely unique characters, all Larry’s friends, all ready to celebrate his birthday. Each character has a unique story relating to finding their way to New York and the job they do—most all are in the entertainment industry in one way or another.

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Cecilia, the Peruvian Llama, was destined to be sheered her entire life for the benefit of the local artisans, who created things from her wool. Not willing to endure such a hard life Cecelia jumped the fence, and kept running until she reached New York, never looking back. Now she sings at the club Silencio and wears fancy clothes, none of which are made of llama wool by Peruvian artisans.

Gugu, the African Zebra is a grass expert. With only one male zebra—one stallion—allowed per family, Gugu had to leave his home. He decided to go where no other zebra as ever gone—New York City. He is now the lead percussionist at the Apollo Theater. As with the other guests, Gugu has a motto that keeps him going. For Gugu, it is, “Aim high. Look how well it worked for me!” Also very superstitious, Gugu knocks on wood.

Twenty-one anthropomorphic animals, including Larry, gather in a small apartment in New York. Everyone has gathered to celebrate Larry, but in his or her own way have celebrated themselves. The illustrations have amazing color, are bright, cheerful, and extremely detailed. The illustrated page immediately strikes you with the passion of the artist. My guess is the animals, the illustrations, arrived first and then the story found life.

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Each animal displays his or her talent, origin, or new lifestyle. It is too bad there is not a story involving these characters—all or some—other than an introduction, which is really all Larry and Friends is. The introductions are interesting, some are educational, and all are entertaining, but not in a real story kind of way. After a dozen ringadingadongs, Larry and Friends becomes rather tedious.

Kids can still learn a lot about immigration, friendship, and family. More than that is the spirit each character exudes that has kept them on top of his or her world, happy, motivated, and philosophical. Many of the character’s life mottos are worth repeating. Here are three:

“All knowledge is worthless, unless it is shared.” ~ Bernard, the French Gargoyle

“Where there is adversity, there is opportunity.” ~ Rimshi, the Tibetan Yak

“The important thing is always to be yourself, no matter who stares at you” ~ Laila, the Iranian Cat

The story, as told in the first page, is a birthday party, but readers are not invited to the party. Readers get the guest list. As unique and interesting as these introductions to Larry’s friends may be, they do not amount to a real story. The running theme of a birthday party holds these individuals together. The real story begins and ends with each new character. After all 20 are present, have told their story, and given Larry a gift, the actual celebration begins with food and drink, birthday cake and whatever else a group of interesting people with varied backgrounds do at such gatherings. When the party begins, the book abruptly ends. The reader is not invited to the actual party. Seems unkind.

2 .

LARRY AND FRIENDS. Text copyright © 2014 by Nat Jaspar. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Carla Torres. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Tangerine Books, New York, NY.

For a younger interpretation of Larry and Friends, check out Erik’s review at This Kid Reviews Books HERE.

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Learn more about Larry and Friends HERE.

Buy a copy of Larry and Friends at Amazon—B&N—Tangerine Booksyour local bookstore.

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Meet the author, Nat Jaspar, at facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/natjaspar

Meet the creator and illustrator, Carla Torres, at her website:  http://www.carlatorres.com/

Find Larry and Friends at the Tangerine Books website:  http://www.larry-and-friends.com/

 

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larry and friends


Filed under: 4stars, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Picture Book Tagged: anthropomorphised animals, Carla Torres, children's book reviews, friendship, Immigration, life mottos, Nat Jaspar, New York City, Tangerine Books, the melting pot

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10. Do immigrant immigration researchers know more?

By Magdalena Nowicka


The political controversies over immigration intensify across Europe. Commonly, the arguments centre around its economic costs and benefits, and they reduce the public perception of immigrants to cheap workforce. Yet, increasingly, these workers are highly skilled professionals, international students, and academics. Their presence transforms not only labour markets but also the production of knowledge and, in the end, it changes the way we all perceive immigrants and immigration.

US American scholars were first to draw attention to how immigrant scholars influence the academic field. The historian of migration Nancy Foner claimed a decade ago that the increasing group of students and faculty who study and work abroad — immigrants to the United States — heavily change the way immigration is perceived in social sciences. Immigrant scholars — according to Herbert J. Gans, a German-born American sociologist — contributed to the paradigm shift in American migration studies, from assimilationist to retentionist approach. They did so, because they were ‘insiders’ to the groups they studied; they were immigrant researchers researching immigrants.

A century ago, public interest (and funds) fueled studies on immigration by sociologists, demographers, economists and historians. The results of their studies were widely spread by journalists, novelists and mass entertainment industries. Now, budget cuts in higher education, and the increase of impact-seeking funding of the European Union, foster the concern about the societal benefits of social sciences. Paradoxically, the public interest in research on immigrants seems to fall, and academics apparently lose their capability of influencing broad publics and the politics in Europe, the boats on Lampedusa being a symbol of this problem.

Visa Application

For scholars who reply to short-term concerns of national public policy, the urgent question is the effectiveness of transfer of knowledge between academic and other systems that is driven by the hope for formulating better policies. Some scholars are yet reluctant to actively participate in public debates because they see their scientific objectivity in danger. The position of those scholars researching immigration who are immigrants themselves is no less ambivalent: they may play the ‘ethnic card’ to secure funding for research and access to people whom they want to study. Financial reasons may compel many to do research in their native country and they also meet the suspicion of fellow academics that tend to suspect they might lack scientific distance and objectivity.

What societal roles are available for immigrant researchers researching immigrants? Too often we look for answers to this question by tracking the processes of policy decision making, by investigating the “big-P”-politics. We are used to thinking of production of ideas and texts as separate from the impact we think they will have. Yet the way that knowledge is being negotiated during the production of texts is a key to understanding the role migration researchers studying immigrants play for the society.

Let us imagine a research situation, an interview, which is undoubtedly the most widely applied technique for conducting systematic social inquiry: a researcher typically asks questions and listens carefully to the stories the respondent tells. While one of them may say less and the other more, they interact. Interviews are interactional, and during this situation, both the researcher and the researched subject negotiate the meaning they assign to norms, values, ideas, other people, their behaviour, etc. Let’s assume both parties in this situation are immigrants. From my personal experience as an interviewer and immigrant, I recall multiple research encounters during which my interview partners prompted me to confirm their views: “you surely know, you are also an immigrant” or “you do understand me, you are also from Poland”. They presume that because of our common origin, we have a lot in common, that being an immigrant might bring us together, foster mutual understanding of problems, or even make us share the same norms and values.

But common origin does not produce ‘common individuals’, and each migration trajectory is different. It matters that I am born in Warsaw in a middle class family, have university education and work as a professor at a German university while my research subjects come from rural areas in Poland, left school early and perform manual jobs in United Kingdom. Each time I ask a question and they answer it, each time I prompt them — seemingly impersonally and in a highly controlled fashion — to continue narrating, my interview partners and I question the latent national and ethnic categories of commonality. Unintentionally, in the course of such research encounter, when confronted with misunderstandings or incomprehension, we revisit our gendered, ethnic, class, or professional identities.

For most researchers, such experiences are common and obvious. But they reflect on them in a self-referential fashion, addressing the issue to colleagues subscribing to journals on methodology of qualitative research. They aim at improving the quality of research but the meaning of this self-reflection is deeper and should be communicated to wider audiences.

It matters that when the researcher is an immigrant herself: it influences the research process, the access to research subjects and funding, and the way results of the studies are interpreted (because the researcher is sympathetic, or empathetic, to particular problems of her respondents). More importantly, immigrant immigration researchers are capable and predisposed to reveal the artificiality of fixed categorisations assigning people to places on the map and positions in social hierarchies. When they do so, they show us a possibility for new, better, modes of societal integration. In countries like Germany that have long been shaped by low-skilled immigration and public discourses around it, there is a minor but growing interest in the perspectives of immigrant researchers. Through stronger engagement in dialogue with wider audiences, the immigrant researchers can accelerate this trend. This much needed change of perspective has a chance of becoming mainstream if immigrant researchers talk about their work and research experiences with more self-confidence.

Prof. Dr. Magdalena Nowicka is from Humboldt-University in Berlin. She is a co-author of the paper ‘Beyond methodological nationalism in insider research with migrants‘, which appears in the journal Migration Studies.

Migration Studies is an international refereed journal dedicated to advancing scholarly understanding of the determinants, processes and outcomes of human migration in all its manifestations, and gives priority to work presenting methodological, comparative or theoretical advances.

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Image credit: Visa application. By VIPDesignUSA, via iStockphoto.

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11. Picture Book Roundup - Wordless edition

It's been ages since I've done a picture book roundup!  Here are two wordless masterpieces.

  • Becker, Aaron. 2013. Journey. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.
Harold and the Purple Crayon for a new generation.  Beautiful!




  • Kim, Patti. 2014. Here I Am. North Mankato, MN: Capstone Press. 
An insightful story of a young boy's experience in emigrating from Asia to the United States.



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12. Does “Published” Need to be “Perfect?”

There's a reason for second and third editions of really great books--a writer's work is never done, and is certainly never, ever perfect.

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13. Undocumented immigrants in 17th century America

By Richard A. Bailey

“In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are under-written, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign Lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland King, Defender of the Faith, etc.

Having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine our selves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the eleventh of November in the year of the reign of our sovereign lord, King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Dom. 1620.”

When the Mayflower—packed with 102 English men, women, and children—set out from Plymouth, England, on 6 September 1610, little did these Pilgrims know that sixty-five days later they would find themselves not only some 3,000 miles from their planned point of disembarkation but also pressed to pen the above words as the governing document for their fledgling settlement, Plimouth Plantation. Signed by 41 of the 50 adult males, the “Mayflower Compact” represented the type of covenant this particular strain of puritans believed could change the world.

The signing of The Mayflower Compact

While they hoped to achieve success in the future, these signers were especially concerned with survival in the present. The lives of these Pilgrims for the two decades or so prior to the launching of the Mayflower had been characterized by Separatism. Their decision to separate from the Church of England as a way to protest and to purify what they saw as its shortcomings had led to the necessity of illegally emigrating from the country of England and seeking refuge in the Netherlands. A further separation was needed as these English families realized that the Netherlands offered neither the cultural nor economic opportunities they really desired. But returning to England was out of the question. Thus, in order to discover the religious freedom they desired, these Pilgrims needed to remove yet again, which became possible because of an agreement made with an English joint-stock company willing to pair “saints” and “strangers” in a colony in the American hemisphere.

Despite the fact that they were the ones who had recently arrived in North America, the Pilgrims taxed the abilities of both the land and its native peoples to sustain the newly arrived English. Such taxation became most visible at moments of violent conflict between colonists and Native Americans, as in 1623 when Pilgrims massacred a group of Indians living at Wessagussett. Following the attack, John Robinson, a Pilgrim pastor still in the Netherlands, wrote a letter to William Bradford, Plimouth’s governor, expressing his fears with the following words: “It is also a thing more glorious, in men’s eyes, than pleasing in God’s or convenient to Christians, to be a terrour to poor barbarous people. And indeed I am afraid lest, by these occasions, others should be drawn to affect a kind of ruffling course in the world.” As his letter makes clear, Robinson clearly hoped the colonists would offer the indigenous peoples of New England the prospect of redemption–spiritually and culturally–rather than the edge of a sword. The Wessagussett affair, however, illustrated such redemption had not been realized. From at least that moment on, relationships between English colonists and the indigenous peoples of North America more often than not followed ruffling courses.

While an established state church isn’t a main threat nearly 400 years later, some of the Pilgrims’ concerns still haunt many Americans. Like those English colonists preparing to set foot on North American soil, we remain afraid of those we perceive as different than us–culturally, racially, ethnically, and the like. But the tables are turned. We are now the ones striving to protect ourselves from a stream of illegal and “undocumented” immigrants attempting to pursue their dreams in a new land. Our primary method of protection? Separatism. Like the Pilgrims we often remain unwilling to welcome those we define as different. We’ll look to them for assistance when necessary, rely on their labor when convenient, take advantage of their needs when possible, but we won’t welcome them as neighbors and equals in any real sense nor do we seek to provide reconciliation and redemption to people eager to embrace the potential future they see among us.

Ruffled courses persist as the United States wrestles with how it ought to treat those men, women, and children who, like the Pilgrims of the seventeenth century, are looking for newfound opportunities. As we remember the voyage of the seventeenth-century immigrants who departed England on 6 September 1610 and recall their many successful efforts to establish a lasting settlement in a distant land, we do well to celebrate not only their need to separate but also their dedication to “covenant and combine [them]selves together into a civil body politic.” The world has enough ruffling courses and perhaps needs the purifying reform modeled by the Pilgrims and the potential redemption those like John Robinson hoped for as they agreed to work together for the common good. In short, one would hope that a people whose history was migration from another land would be more welcoming than we often are, especially in our dealings with the immigrants and the impending immigration reform of our own day.

Richard A. Bailey is Associate Professor of History at Canisius College. He is the author of Race and Redemption in Puritan New England. His current research focuses on western Massachusetts as an intersection of empires in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world, fly fishing in colonial America, and the concept of friendship in the life and writings of Wendell Berry. You can find Richard on Twitter @richardabailey

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Image credit: The Mayflower Compact, 1620. Artist unknown, from Library of Congress. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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14. Q&A with Patricia MacLachlan + a Giveaway

Like you, I read lots of books.  One of my favorite authors has long been Patricia MacLachlan, who I believe is one of the most exquisite writers of our time.  Her newest book,… Read More

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15. “Third Nation” along the US-Mexico border

By Michael Dear


Not long ago, I passed a roadside sign in New Mexico which read: “Es una frontera, no una barrera / It’s a border, not a barrier.” This got me thinking about the nature of the international boundary line separating the US from Mexico. The sign’s message seemed accurate, but what exactly did it mean?

On 2 February 1848, a ‘Treaty of Peace, Friendship, Limits and Settlement’ was signed at Guadalupe Hidalgo, thus terminating the Mexican-American War. The conflict was ostensibly about securing the boundary of the recently-annexed state of Texas, but it was clear from the outset that US President Polk’s ambition was territorial expansion. As consequences of the Treaty, Mexico gained peace and $15 million, but eventually lost one-half of its territory; the US achieved the largest land grab in its history through a war that many (including Ulysses S. Grant) regarded as dishonorable.

In recent years, I’ve traveled the entire length of the 2,000-mile US-Mexico border many times, on both sides. There are so many unexpected and inspiring places! Mutual interdependence has always been the hallmark of cross-border communities. Border people are staunchly independent and composed of many cultures with mixed loyalties. They get along perfectly well with people on the other side, but remain distrustful of far-distant national capitals. The border states are among the fastest-growing regions in both countries — places of economic dynamism, teeming contradiction, and vibrant political and cultural change.

A small fence separates densely populated Tijuana, Mexico, right, from the United States in the Border Patrol’s San Diego Sector.

Yet the border is also a place of enormous tension associated with undocumented migration and drug wars. Neither of these problems has its source in the borderlands, but border communities are where the burdens of enforcement are geographically concentrated. It’s because of our country’s obsession with security, immigration, and drugs that after 9/11 the US built massive fortifications between the two nations, and in so doing, threatened the well-being of cross-border communities.

I call the spaces between Mexico and the US a ‘third nation.’ It’s not a sovereign state, I realize, but it contains many of the elements that would otherwise warrant that title, such as a shared identity, common history, and joint traditions. Border dwellers on both sides readily assert that they have more in common with each other than with their host nations. People describe themselves as ‘transborder citizens.’ One man who crossed daily, living and working on both sides, told me: “I forget which side of the border I’m on.” The boundary line is a connective membrane, not a separation. It’s easy to reimagine these bi-national communities as a ‘third nation’ slotted snugly in the space between two countries. (The existing Tohono O’Odham Indian Nation already extends across the borderline in the states of Arizona and Sonora.)

But there is more to the third nation than a cognitive awareness. Both sides are also deeply connected through trade, family, leisure, shopping, culture, and legal connections. Border-dwellers’ lives are intimately connected by their everyday material lives, and buttressed by innumerable formal and informal institutional arrangements (NAFTA, for example, as well as water and environmental conservation agreements). Continuity and connectivity across the border line existed for centuries before the border was put in place, even back to the Spanish colonial era and prehistoric Mesoamerican times.

Do the new fortifications built by the US government since 9/11 pose a threat to the well-being of borderland communities? Certainly there’s been interruptions to cross-border lives: crossing times have increased; the number of US Border Patrol ‘boots on ground’ has doubled; and a new ‘gulag’ of detention centers has been instituted to apprehend, prosecute and deport all undocumented migrants. But trade has continued to increase, and cross-border lives are undiminished. US governments are opening up new and expanded border crossing facilities (known as ports of entry) at record levels.  Gas prices in Mexican border towns are tied to the cost of gasoline on the other side. The third nation is essential to the prosperity of both countries.

So yes, the roadside sign in New Mexico was correct. The line between Mexico and the US is a border in the geopolitical sense, but it is submerged by communities that do not regard it as a barrier to centuries-old cross-border intercourse. The international boundary line is only just over a century-and-a-half old. Historically, there was no barrier; and the border is not a barrier nowadays.

The walls between Mexico and the US will come down. Walls always do. The Berlin Wall was torn down virtually overnight, its fragments sold as souvenirs of a calamitous Cold War. The Great Wall of China was transformed into a global tourist attraction. Left untended, the US-Mexico Wall will collapse under the combined assault of avid recyclers, souvenir hunters, and local residents offended by its mere presence.

As the US prepares once again to consider immigration reform, let the focus this time be on immigration and integration. The framers of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo were charged with making the US-Mexico border, but on this anniversary of the Treaty’s signing, we may best honor the past by exploring a future when the border no longer exists. Learning from the lives of cross-border communities in the third nation would be an appropriate place to begin.

Michael Dear is a professor in the College of Environmental Design at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of Why Walls Won’t Work: Repairing the US-Mexico Divide (Oxford University Press).

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16. Border Crossing

Border Crossing Jessica Lee Anderson

Manz's mother is an alcoholic, a sometimes painter who is still reeling from a stillbirth. His dead father was crazy. Manz's best friend has an abusive father.

Manz and Jed get a job over the summer at a local ranch where Manz meets Vanessa, one of the kitchen worker. Only, when Manz hears about Operation Wetback*, he starts thinking that the government is starting it up again. Even though Manz is a citizen, US-born of a white citizen mother, the voices in his head tell him everyone else is in on it, tell him that the government will ship him to Mexico, unless he can stop it.

As the voices grow louder and louder, Manz can't stop them, can't not do what the tell him. He doesn't realize that no one else can hear them.

On the surface this is an ISSUE NOVEL. Paranoid Schizophrenia! Alcoholism! Domestic Abuse! Immigration! Dead babies!

But, in execution, told through Manz's eyes it's not heavy-handed. It's just the way things are. The real story is Manz's worsening condition. Anderson does a good job of letting the reader know what is "real" and what isn't. Part of this is that she does a good job of setting everything up before Manz starts to lose his grip on reality.

It's a fast-moving, compact book. I like the ending-- there's resolution, without it being super-tidy.


Interestingly, I just saw this photo on another book jacket--American Dervish by Ayad Akhtar. Same cover photo, different nationalities. Hmmm...


Operation Wetback was a pretty extreme anti-illegal immigration/deportation program in the early 50s.

ARC Provided by... the publisher, at ALA a few year ago.

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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17. Talking for PBS

Last year PBS came to my house to film a testimonial about the influence of public television in my life. This is what they have released just recently:


Hermosa Gente.

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18. Read the first three chapters of Summer of the Mariposas!

Loved Under the Mesquite? For a limited time, we’re sharing the first three chapters of Belpré winner Guadalupe Garcia McCall’s next book, Summer of the Mariposas, out in October! Summer of the Mariposas is a YA retelling of The Odyssey about five sisters who embark on a road trip through Mexico to return a dead [...]

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19. Blast from the Past -- Water Street, by Patricia Reilly Giff

Here is a book that I originally blurbed over at Booktopia.  It's a go-to historical fiction and one of my favorite NYC stories.

Bird and Thomas are growing up in a Brooklyn apartment just as the bridge is rising. Over on Water Street, Bird is the youngest of 3 - daughter of a bridge worker and a healer. Thomas is pretty much on his own - Da being down at the pub all the time.

Thomas dreams of being a writer. He has fashioned himself a notebook and makes sure to write everything down. He has a shadowy memory of a woman in lace sleeves who told him that writing can change it all.

Bird has her own dreams of following in her mother's footsteps and becoming a healer herself. She has a notebook where she writes down remedies ... sliced onion for bee stings, coal from the turf fire held under the nose for sneezing.

Bird always needs to fix things. She needs to get her brother Hughie to stop fighting in the backs of pubs. She needs to get sister Annie out of the box factory. She needs to save all her money to help her mother buy a farm in New Jersey.

Thomas needs to find his past and try to fix his family.

This is immigrant Brooklyn in the 1870s. Patricia Reilly Giff has managed to bring in so many aspects of daily immigrant life without making it seem like school. The streets come alive (especially when Thomas and Bird venture into Manhattan) with sights and sounds and smells. It was a pleasure to read about Brooklyn instead of the Bowery.

This book is equally suited for older tweens and younger teens. There is a bit of detailed gore described in some healing scenes that may have queasy readers blanching. Told in alternating chapters, the stories of Bird and Thomas come to life and are a pleasure to read.

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20. Under the Mesquite - Review


Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
Publication date: 31 October 2011 by Lee & Low Books
ISBN 10/13: 1600604293 | 9781600604294

Category: Young Adult Realistic Fiction
Keywords: Immigration, Family, Cancer, Mexican, Diversity Reading Challenge
Format: Hardcover


Kimberly's Review:

Lupita is the oldest daughter of a tight-knit Mexican-American family. They moved to Texas when she was just a baby. When her Mami develops cancer, Lupita takes it upon herself to care for her seven younger siblings. Only a young teenager herself, she rapidly grows into a young woman who struggles with identity and family obligations.

I can't really write about this book for fear of giving something away. But it's beautifully written, incorporating some Spanish words into the English prose. Every character is well drawn out, especially Lupita and her mother. This is a family that may have some problems, but overall love each other. The warmth and strength of all the characters, especially Lupita and her father, are gorgeously written.

Reading this on the beach this morning, I absorbed their story within a couple of hours and found myself crying. The tone, language and texture is heavy and serious, yet is filled with universal truths: A mother's love for her family, the fear of loss, growing pains, and finding yourself. Everything is touched upon in a very natural way. The story flowed over me, as if my best friend was telling it. 

I'm so thankful I picked this book up to read. It will stay with me for a long time. 

Get it and settle yourself into a comfy chair with some tea and a box of tissues. Lupita's journey is not to be missed.


Visit the author online at http://guadalupegarciamccall.com.

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21. Poetry Friday: Denied, Deported, Detained

Statue of Liberty Dreams of Emma Lazarus, Awakens with Tears on her Cheeks

Naomi Shihab Nye

Give me your tired, your poor...
But not too tired, not too poor.
And we will give you the red tape,
the long line, white bread in its wrapper,
forms to fill out, and the looks, the stares
that say you are not where or what you should be,
not quirw, not yet, you will never live up to
us.

Your huddled masses yearning to be free...
Can keep huddling. Even here. Sorry to say this.
Neighborhoods with poor drainage
Potholes, stunning gunshots...
You'll teem here too.

You dreamed a kinder place, a tree
no one would cut, a cabinet to store your clothes.
Simple jobs brining payment on time.
Someone to stand up for you.
The way I used to do, for everyone. Holding my torch
to get you to your new home in this country stitched
of immigrants from the get-go...
But you would always be homesick. No one said that.

I was the doorkeeper, concierge, welcome chief,
But rules have changed and I'm bouncer at the big club.
Had no say in it, hear me? Any chnace I could be, again,
the one I used to be?

I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
It's still up high. At night I tuck it into my robe.
And worry. What will happen to you?
Every taunt, every turn-around,
hand it over. That's not what you came here for.
I'll fold it into my rubbing rad,
Bring back a shine.

Denied, Detained, Deported: Stories from the Dark Side of American Immigration Ann Bauseum

Well, the call has gone out for 2011 CYBILS judges (you should totally sign up!) So I decided it was about time I FINALLY finished going through my notes and writing up the last lingering books that were nominated in 2009. (I read them all in 2009, I just didn't get around to reviewing all of them.)

This book opens with the poem I posted above. There are 5 chapters-- Exlcuded tells to the story of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and anti-Chinese sentitment during the late 19th century. Deported looks at the case of Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, Russian immigrants who became involved in the labor and anarchy movements at the beginning of the twentieth century and were deported for it after living in the US for decades. Goldman was already a citizen. Denied tells the of the ill-fated voyage of the St. Louis-- a ship of Jewish refugees who were denied port in Cuba and the US before returning to Hitler's Europe. Detained tells of Japanese internment during WWII. Exploited looks at the long history of Mexican immigration and the role of migrant workers in the US economy.

I wanted to like this one more than I did. It's beautifully done visually. The history is well explained and Bausum ties it in well with broader trends at the time as well as current events (and other events that happened between then and now.) The title chapters focus on just one family or person to give faces and names to some of the effected people. But... there is something about this book

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22. Parole In Place Workshops

See this article: http://www.mvariety.com/community-bulletin/parole-in-place-workshops.php

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23. Perry v. Romney

By Elvin Lim The two front-runners in the Republican nomination contest, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, narrowed the distance between them in the last debate in Florida sponsored by Fox and Google. This is a debate that showcased both their Achilles’ heels. Perry's problem is not the "ponzi scheme" comment about Social Security. Most conservatives agree with him, and the consistent conservative would actually agree with him that Social Security is a matter that should be sent back to the states to handle. Perry's problem is his

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24. Telluride at Dartmouth: Le Havre



This post is the last in my chronicle of attending the Telluride at Dartmouth program at the Hopkins Center for the Arts. Days 1 & 2 (A Dangerous Method and Albert Nobbs) can be found here, Day 3 (We Need to Talk About Kevin) can be found here, and Day 4 (In Darkness) can be found here.

The final film of the six shown in the Telluride at Dartmouth program was Le Havre, written and directed by Aki Kaurismäki. (As I expected, I wasn't able to get over to Hanover for The Kid with the Bike, alas.) It was a good choice for a concluding film because the program had been, overall, rather bleak -- enjoyable, powerful, illuminating, but seldom uplifting. Le Havre is a fairy tale and a feel-good movie, one that tackles terrifying and complex subjects whimsically and is so determined to finish on a good note that everybody's ending is a happy one. It's naive to the point of being Panglossian, but so darn nice about it that it seems churlish to complain. It's a tremendously enjoyable movie to sit through -- weird, funny, and full of scenes that will make you feel good about human generosity. It's the cinematic equivalent of "Kumbaya", but with more wit.

[Note that from here on, I'm going to talk about the whole film, including its ending(s). I don't think knowing how it all turns out will impede most people's enjoyment of the movie, because its tone from early on telegraphs that this is not a tragedy, but if you're the sort of person who hates to know anything about a movie's story no matter what, you should stop reading right now.]


Actually, what Le Havre really felt like to me was one of Hal Hartley's good movies, the kind he hasn't made since Henry Fool: odd, unpredictable, at least a bit silly, the sort of movie that revels in its own irony and artificiality, yet by the end somehow transforms all its irony into shameless sincerity, even sentimentality. Le Havre is the product of an utterly sentimental view of humanity, yet it isn't itself a particularly sentimental film, to my eyes, because it doesn't work very hard to wrench emotions out of us, or even insist on them. It just depicts an awful lot of nice, ordinary people being nice and ordinary to each other and to one particular stranger. Even cancer gets cured by the niceness.

The story is a simple one: An aging shoeshiner in  0 Comments on Telluride at Dartmouth: Le Havre as of 1/1/1900
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25. Nonfiction Monday: Flesh and Blood So Cheap

Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and its Legacy Albert Marrin

It's probably about time I got around to reviewing the book that I nominated for the MG/YA Nonfiction Cybils.

While this book is about the tragic fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, it's about so much more. Much of the book is about placing the fire in context. We're more than half-way through the book before the actual fire. Marrin instead details the immigration boom between the Civil War and WWI. He explores the tenements and the life that many of the Triangle workers led. There's some great stuff on photographer Jacob Riis and income inequality on Manhattan. There's a history of the sweatshop and how garment manufacture moved from home-based piecework to the factory. We also get information on the labor movement up until that point in time.

And then comes the devastation of the fire and the aftermath-- both in the local sense of judgements and sentences handed down (or not) and the larger impact on worker's rights.

There's also great information on how the mob became linked with unions and the history of the garment industry since the Triangle fire.

I most appreciated the end section on the modern sweatshop and the double-edged sword of sweatshop labor. Not even that it allows us cheap clothing, but that while, to a Western eye, these jobs seem horrible and inhumane, often in the locale of the sweatshop, its seen as a very good job with a much higher earning potential and better working conditions than anything else out there. It's a complicated issue that has more gray than we like to think, and I was happy to see it so well presented in a book for younger readers.

All in all the fire, the context, and the effects are presented and explained really well. There are several black-and-white photographs to illustrate the text and bring turn-of-the-century New York to life.

Today's Nonfiction Monday Round-up is over at Books Together.


Book Provided by... my wallet

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