Following the News: NonFiction Books on Immigration

Following the News: NonFiction Books on Immigration

I haven’t lived in the US for a decade. In the last ten years I have lived in four different counties on three different continents. And aside from a small fiasco in Morocco I have have never had the slightest difficulty getting a VISA or permission for permanent residence. But here are some other facts:
1. I am white
2. I have an American passport
3. I am financially soluble
4. My schools have sponsored me
5. I am educated
6. I haven’t been demonized
7. I have had professional help with the paperwork.

No one has been afraid of me. No one thinks that I am stealing a job. I don’t speak Mandarin, Darija, French, or Mongolian well enough to carry on more than the most basic conversations. Not one person in the last ten years has ever made an issue of that. In fact, almost daily people around me have gone out of their way to help me in small ways and large when I don’t understand what is going on. I have Chinese “social security”, have been covered by the German heath care system, and used public transport, roads, hospitals, police stations, and all manner of other public works. No one had ever implied that I am drain on their country.

All of this makes me that much more disgusted, heartbroken and enraged when I see what is going on in the US. Our political policies of the last 70 years have directly led to both the Syrian refugee crisis and the caravan coming from Central America. Our impossible immigration policies have ensured that getting the proper documentation is confusing, expensive, and for the most vulnerable unlikely. I am so sick with disgust at my country right now that if America was a person I wouldn’t be able to look at it or speak to it.

America can and must do better. If you are American take five minutes and call your representatives. I live in China and have a 13 hour time difference with mine. I have still called almost every day for the last two years. Make your voice heard.

Need some help?

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Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal by Aviva Chomsky

Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal
by Aviva Chomsky

Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: Stand Alone
Published: May 13th 2014

From Goodreads:

Countries, sovereignty, citizenship, and laws are all social constructions: abstractions invented by humans.

Explores what it means to be undocumented in a legal, social, economic and historical context
In this illuminating work, immigrant rights activist Aviva Chomsky shows how “illegality” and “undocumentedness” are concepts that were created to exclude and exploit. With a focus on US policy, she probes how people, especially Mexican and Central Americans, have been assigned this status—and to what ends. Blending history with human drama, Chomsky explores what it means to be undocumented in a legal, social, economic, and historical context. The result is a powerful testament of the complex, contradictory, and ever-shifting nature of status in America.

They Take Our Jobs!: And 20 Other Myths about Immigration by Aviva Chomsky

They Take Our Jobs!: And 20 Other Myths about Immigration
by Aviva Chomsky

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Series: Stand Alone
Published: June 1st 2007

From Goodreads:

If our goal is to slow migration, then the best way to do so is to work for a more equitable global system. But slowing migration is an odd goal, if the real problem is global inequality.

laims that immigrants take Americans' jobs, are a drain on the American economy, contribute to poverty and inequality, destroy the social fabric, challenge American identity, and contribute to a host of social ills by their very existence are openly discussed and debated at all levels of society. Chomsky dismantles twenty of the most common assumptions and beliefs underlying statements like "I'm not against immigration, only illegal immigration" and challenges the misinformation in clear, straightforward prose.

In exposing the myths that underlie today's debate, Chomsky illustrates how the parameters and presumptions of the debate distort how we think—and have been thinking—about immigration. She observes that race, ethnicity, and gender were historically used as reasons to exclude portions of the population from access to rights. Today, Chomsky argues, the dividing line is citizenship. Although resentment against immigrants and attempts to further marginalize them are still apparent today, the notion that non-citizens, too, are created equal is virtually absent from the public sphere. Engaging and fresh, this book will challenge common assumptions about immigrants, immigration, and U.S. history. 

The Accidental American: Immigration and Citizenship in the Age of Globalization by Rinku Sen

The Accidental American: Immigration and Citizenship in the Age of Globalization
by Rinku Sen

Goodreads | Amazon
Series: Stand Alone
Published: September 1st 2008

From Goodreads:

Assumption prevents us from acknowledging the full humanity.

The Accidental American vividly illustrates the challenges and contradictions of U. S. immigration policy, and argues that, just as there is a free flow of capital in the world economy, there should be a free flow of labor. Author Rinku Sen alternates chapters telling the story of one "accidental American"--coauthor Fekkak Mamdouh, a Morrocan-born waiter at a restaurant in the World Trade Center whose life was thrown into turmoil on 9/11--with a thorough critique of current immigration policy. Sen and Mamdouh describe how members of the largely immigrant food industry workforce managed to overcome divisions in the aftermath of 9/11 and form the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York (ROC-NY) to fight for jobs and more equitable treatment. This extraordinary story serves to illuminate the racial, cultural, and economic conflicts embedded in the current immigration debate and helps frame the argument for a more humane immigration and global labor system.

Go Back to Where You Came From: The Backlash Against Immigration and the Fate of Western Democracy by Sasha Polakow-Suransky

Go Back to Where You Came From: The Backlash Against Immigration and the Fate of Western Democracy
by Sasha Polakow-Suransky

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Series: Stand Alone
Published: October 17th 2017 

From Goodreads:

The greatest threat to liberal democracies does not come from immigrants and refugees but from the backlash against them by those on the inside who exploit fear of outsiders to chip away at the values and institutions that make our societies liberal.

What if politicians pose a graver threat to liberal democracy than mass migration? 
Brexit and Donald Trump's victory were just the beginning--and Marine Le Pen's defeat does not signal a turning of the tide. --From the Introduction
From Europe to the United States, opportunistic politicians have exploited the economic crisis, terrorist attacks, and an unprecedented influx of refugees to bring hateful and reactionary views from the margins of political discourse into the mainstream. They have won the votes of workers, women, gays, and Jews; turned openly xenophobic ideas into state policy; and pulled besieged centrist parties to the right. How did we get here?
In this deeply reported account, Sasha Polakow-Suransky provides a front-row seat to the anger, desperation, and dissent that are driving some voters into the arms of the far right and stirring others to resist. He introduces readers to refugees in the Calais "Jungle" and the angry working-class neighbors who want them out; a World War II refugee-turned-rabbi who became a leading defender of Muslim immigrants; the children of Holocaust survivors who have become apologists for the new right; and alt-right activists and the intellectuals who enable them.
Polakow-Suransky chronicles how the backlash against refugees and immigrants has reshaped our political landscape. Ultimately, he argues that the greatest threat comes not from outside, but from within--even established democracies are at risk of betraying their core values and falling apart. 

Living "Illegal": The Human Face of Unauthorized Immigration by Marie Friedmann Marquardt

Living "Illegal": The Human Face of Unauthorized Immigration
by Marie Friedmann Marquardt

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Series: Stand Alone
Published: August 16th 2011 

From Goodreads:

These immigrants are not simply workers; they are complex and fully human people, with families, dreams, and desires.

Today’s polarized debates over immigration revolve around a set of one-dimensional characters and unchallenged stereotypes. Yet the resulting policy prescriptions, not least of them Arizona’s draconian new law SB 1070, are dangerously real and profoundly counterproductive.

A major new antidote to this trend, Living “Illegal” is an ambitious new account of the least understood and most relevant aspects of the American immigrant experience today. Based on years of research into the lives of ordinary migrants, Living “Illegal” offers richly textured stories of real people—working, building families, and enriching their communities even as the political climate grows more hostile.

Moving far beyond stock images and conventional explanations, Living “Illegal” challenges our assumptions about why immigrants come to the United States, where they settle, and how they have adapted to the often confusing patchwork of local immigration ordinances. This revealing narrative takes us into Southern churches (which have quietly emerged as the only organizations open to migrants), into the fields of Florida, onto the streets of major American cities during the historic immigrant rights marches of 2006, and back and forth across different national boundaries—from Brazil to Mexico and Guatemala.

A deeply humane book, Living “Illegal” will stand as an authoritative new guide to one of the most pressing issues of our time.

Elsewhere, Within Here: Immigration, Refugeeism and the Boundary Event by Trinh T. Minh-ha

Elsewhere, Within Here: Immigration, Refugeeism and the Boundary Event
by Trinh T. Minh-ha

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Series: Stand Alone
Published: September 22nd 2010 

From Goodreads:

The wall of security is in fact a wall of insecurity.

Winner of the 2012 Critics Choice Book Award of the American Educational Studies Association (AESA)

World-renowned filmmaker and feminist, postcolonial thinker Trinh T. Minh-ha is one of the most powerful and articulate voices in both independent filmmaking and cultural politics.

Elsewhere, Within Here is an engaging look at travel across national borders--as a foreigner, a tourist, an immigrant, a refugee--in a pre- and post-9/11 world. Who is welcome where? What does it mean to feel out of place in the country you call home? When does the stranger appear in these times of dark metamorphoses? These are some of the issues addressed by the author as she examines the cultural meaning and complexities of travel, immigration, home and exile. The boundary, seen both as a material and immaterial event, is where endings pass into beginnings. Building upon themes present in her earlier work on hybridity and displacement in the median passage, and illuminating the ways in which "every voyage can be said to involve a re-siting of boundaries," Trinh T. Minh-ha leads her readers through an investigation of what it means to be an insider and an outsider in this "epoch of global fear."

Elsewhere, Within Here is essential reading for those interested in contemporary feminist thought and postcolonial studies. 

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

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

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Series: Stand Alone
Published: April 14th 2009

From Goodreads:

With painstaking research, an unerring eye for just the right illustration, and her unique narrative style, award-winning author Ann Bausum makes the history of immigration in America come alive for young people. The story of America has always been shaped by people from all corners of the Earth who came in search of a better life and a brighter future. Immigration remains one of the critical topics in 21st century America, and how our children learn the lessons of the past will shape all our futures.

The patriotic stories of hope that shape most immigration books are supplemented here by the lesser-known stories of those denied, detained, and deported. Ann Bausum’s compelling book presents a revealing series of snapshots from the dark side of immigration history including: 

   •  Immigrants Denied: The St. Louis, a ship filled with Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany sought refuge in American ports and was turned away, condemning many of its passengers to ultimately perish in the Holocaust.
   • Immigrants Detained: Japanese-Americans were rounded up during World War II and placed in detention centers—regardless of their patriotism—for security reasons.
   • Immigrants Deported: Emma Goldman was branded a dangerous extremist and sent back to Russia in 1919, after living 30 years in the United States.

Ann Bausum creates a bridge from the lessons of the past to the present with fascinating analysis of how our past has influenced modern events and current views on immigration.

A Nation of Nations: A Story of America After the 1965 Immigration Lawby Tom Gjelten

A Nation of Nations: A Story of America After the 1965 Immigration Law
by Tom Gjelten

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Series: Stand Alone
Published: September 29th 2015

From Goodreads:

In the fifty years since the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, the foreign-born population of the United States has tripled. Significantly, these immigrants are not coming from Europe, as was the case before 1965, but from all corners of the globe.In 1950, Fairfax County, Virginia, was ninety percent white, ten percent African American, with a little more than one hundred families who were "other." Currently the African American percentage of the population is about the same, but the Anglo white population is less than fifty percent, and there are families of Asian, African, Middle Eastern, and Latin American origin living all over the county. A Nation of Nations follows the lives of a few immigrants to Fairfax County over recent decades as they gradually "Americanize." Hailing from Korea, Bolivia, and Libya, these families have stories that illustrate common immigrant themes: friction, economic competition and entrepreneurship, and racial and cultural stereotyping.It's been half a century since the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act changed the landscape of America, and no book has assessed the impact or importance of this law as this one does, with its brilliant combination of personal stories and larger demographic and political issues. 

Like the immigrants of a century earlier, they took risks and were rewarded for their perseverance and initiative. The obstacles they faced, on the other hand, were bigger than anything their predecessors encountered. These new immigrants could not disappear easily into a white Euro-American society, no matter how hard they tried.

Targeted: Homeland Security and the Business of Immigration by Deepa Fernandes,

Targeted: Homeland Security and the Business of Immigration
by Deepa Fernandes

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Series: Stand Alone
Published: October 1st 2006 

From Goodreads:

America has always portrayed itself as a country of immigrants, welcoming each year the millions seeking a new home or refuge in this land of plenty. Increasingly, instead of finding their dream, many encounter a nightmare--a country whose culture and legal system aggressively target and prosecute them.
In Targeted, journalist Deepa Fernandes seamlessly weaves together history, political analysis, and first-person narratives of those caught in the grips of the increasingly Kafkaesque U.S. Homeland Security system. She documents how in post-9/11 America immigrants have come to be deemed a national security threat.
Fernandes--herself an immigrant well-acquainted with U.S. immigration procedures--takes the reader on a harrowing journey inside the new American immigrant experience, a journey marked by militarized border zones, racist profiling, criminalization, detention and deportation. She argues that since 9/11, the Bush administration has been carrying out a series of systematic changes to decades-old immigration policy that constitute a roll back of immigrant rights and a boon for businesses who are helping to enforce the crackdown on immigrants, creating a growing "Immigration Industrial Complex." She also documents the bullet-to-ballot strategy of white supremacist elements that influence our new immigration legislation.

It illustrates how these individuals and groups, whose prime agenda is to halt all immigration to the United States, have led a calculated and quiet campaign to sway the public debate firmly into their camp. By infiltrating Congress, these white nationalist groups have been behind every key piece of legislation that has passed in the last decade.

White Backlash: Immigration, Race, and American Politics by Marisa Abrajano

White Backlash: Immigration, Race, and American Politics
by Marisa Abrajano

Goodreads | Amazon
Series: Stand Alone
Published: March 22nd 2015

From Goodreads:

White Backlash provides an authoritative assessment of how immigration is reshaping the politics of the nation. Using an array of data and analysis, Marisa Abrajano and Zoltan Hajnal show that fears about immigration fundamentally influence white Americans' core political identities, policy preferences, and electoral choices, and that these concerns are at the heart of a large-scale defection of whites from the Democratic to the Republican Party.

Abrajano and Hajnal demonstrate that this political backlash has disquieting implications for the future of race relations in America. White Americans' concerns about Latinos and immigration have led to support for policies that are less generous and more punitive and that conflict with the preferences of much of the immigrant population. America's growing racial and ethnic diversity is leading to a greater racial divide in politics. As whites move to the right of the political spectrum, racial and ethnic minorities generally support the left. Racial divisions in partisanship and voting, as the authors indicate, now outweigh divisions by class, age, gender, and other demographic measures.

White Backlash raises critical questions and concerns about how political beliefs and future elections will change the fate of America's immigrants and minorities, and their relationship with the rest of the nation.

With a clear majority of the white population now on the Republican side and a clear majority of the minority population now on the Democratic one, political conflict in the United States is increasingly likely to be synonymous with racial conflict—a pattern that threatens ever-greater racial tension.

Have you called your reps?