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The views and opinions expressed on this site and blog posts (excluding comments on blog posts left by others) are entirely my own and do not represent those of any employer or organization with whom I am currently or previously have been associated.

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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

November 16, 2015

Written by C.N.

Deportations Punish Children Most

The following is a post written by my colleague (and wife) Miliann Kang, Associate Professor of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies, at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. It was originally published at The Conversation.

Our national identity as a welcoming destination for immigrants is being eroded by our fear of undocumented immigrants – fears that are increasingly impacting children.

The fourth GOP debate again revealed the fault lines in the Republican Party and in the country around immigration. Donald Trump called for mass deportations, while Jeb Bush argued such a policy would tear communities apart.

The fact is: such deportations are already happening, in record numbers. Experts are divided about what the impact of President Obama’s 2014 executive order will be. Will the granting of temporary status be outweighed by the increased enforcement measures?

In the meantime, families continue to live in fear, especially those with children.

When we deport their parents, we reinforce the rhetoric that “anchor babies” are a drain on the system by turning them into public charges. I have been thinking a lot about these left-behind children as my teaching at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and research on immigration intersects with their very real stories.

1.6 Million Kids

In September, five-year-old Sofía Cruz captured headlines and sympathy when she delivered a letter to Pope Francis pleading for comprehensive immigration reform.

Rewind five years. Then seven-year-old Daisy Cuevas stole hearts by telling Michelle Obama that “Barack Obama is taking away everybody who doesn’t have papers” and “my mom doesn’t have any.’ Her family then went into hiding.

Sofía’s and Daisy’s only crime is being born to parents who lack proper papers. That and being brown, or yellow.

In Forgotten Citizens: Deportation, Children, and the Making of American Exiles and Orphans, Luis Zayas, dean of the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work, underlines the extent of the problem:

In the span of eight years, our nation’s decision to deport 3,165,426 unauthorized immigrants has affected about 1,582,711 citizen-children. … Legislators who promote increased enforcement effectively increase family disruption and separation; citizen-children are collateral damage.”

Potentially as many citizen-children are living abroad in exile, as their parents grapple with taking them to countries where they have never set foot or leaving their children in the US.

Sammy is a teenager I recently met who was born and raised in the Southwest. His parents were living in the US, working and raising their children, until they were stopped for a traffic violation, or audited for taxes, or turned in by a teacher or medical provider, or any of the mundane ways that undocumented status gets uncovered.

Now Sammy is living with foster parents. They are kind and genuinely interested in his well-being. Sammy is doing his best to adjust to a new school and community. His parents communicate with him regularly, but they can’t be here to help him learn to drive, prepare for the SAT or nurse him through his first heartbreak.

In Loco Parentis

An anti-deportation protester shouts at Obama © Jason Reed/Reuters

I am glad Sammy has someone in loco parentis – in place of a parent – to help him weather the normal teen dramas, and the exceptional challenges of his situation. But I also think we as a society are “loco” for refusing to fix an immigration system that makes so many parents unable to parent their own children.

The Economic Policy Institute’s Facts About Immigration and the U.S. Economy states:

“Immigrants have an outsized role in US economic output because they are disproportionately likely to be working and are concentrated among prime working ages. Indeed, despite being 13% of the population, immigrants comprise 16% of the labor force.”

In recognition of this reality and to create a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, Congress introduced the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, but failed to pass it.

As these studies show, we rely on immigrant labor to care for our children, elders and sick, but do not provide sufficient legal pathways for them to do this work, then vilify them for breaking the law and deport them. Many people have heard about the massive increase in deportations, but ignore them or convince themselves that they are necessary. The argument goes that these are criminals and potential terrorists, rather than our neighbors and our coworkers.

We are in a moment where we may be able to see these children, and their parents, as people and citizens, but we have had many of these moments and they have passed without action. It’s time now to move away from this crazy loco parentis.

August 18, 2015

Written by C.N.

Online Survey: Asian American Fathering

Below is a solicitation for respondents for an online survey about parenting practices among Asian American fathers. As always, the announcement is provided for informational purposes and does not necessarily imply an endorsement of the research study being conducted.

My name is Zuzanna Molenda-Kostanski and I am a doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology Ph.D. program in the Department of Professional Read More →

June 22, 2015

Written by C.N.

Interesting Statistics for Immigrant Heritage Month

I must admit that I did not know that June is Immigrant Heritage Month. Up until now, I thought that although the U.S. recognizes all sorts of historical occasions with their own official month that we did not have a month to celebrate the contributions of immigrants to the U.S., despite the U.S. supposedly being the “Land of Immigrants.” Read More →

June 16, 2015

Written by C.N.

Links, Jobs, & Announcements #79

Here are some more announcements, links, and job postings about academic-related jobs, fellowships, and other opportunities for those interested in racial/ethnic/diversity issues, with a particular focus on Asian Americans. As always, the announcements and links are provided for informational purposes and do not necessarily imply an endorsement of the organization or college involved.

Call for Submissions: Intersectionality and Public Policy

Call Read More →

May 26, 2015

Written by C.N.

New Books: Educational Success and the Model Minority Image

As a follow up to my recent post titled “The Affirmative Action Debate Among Asian Americans,” these recently-published books provide some more details and sociological context regarding Asian American academic and socioeconomic success, as well as how these achievements affect their position in the larger U.S. racial landscape.

The Color of Success: Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority, by Read More →

May 20, 2015

Written by C.N.

The Affirmative Action Debate Among Asian Americans

You may have heard that a coalition of about 60 Asian American organizations recently filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, alleging that Harvard University and other Ivy League schools systematically discriminate against Asian American applicants using affirmative action. This complaint follows two similar lawsuits filed in federal court last November that allege the same charges of discrimination Read More →

May 18, 2015

Written by C.N.

Seeking Help to Identify Amerasian

I recently received the following email from a family that is seeking help to identify an Amerasian from Viet Nam. Feel free to circulate among your friends and networks and to contact them directly (email address is at the end of the post) if you can provide any information or assistance.

Good Afternoon Professor Le,

My purpose in contacting you is Read More →

April 30, 2015

Written by C.N.

40th Anniversary of the Fall of Saigon: Reflections from a Former Refugee

Today, April 30, 2015, is the 40th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon, the day when the North Vietnamese officially overthrew the South Vietnamese government and ended the Viet Nam War. As summarized in more detail in my article “A Modern Day Exodus,” most immediately, the Fall of Saigon led to a series of events that resulted in the hurried Read More →

January 12, 2015

Written by C.N.

New Book: Filipino American DJs in the Bay Area

My friend and colleague Oliver Wang recently completed a book titled Legions of Boom: Filipino American Mobile DJ Crews in the San Francisco Bay Area Duke University Press) and it’s based on his many years of ethnographic research on the mobile DJ scene in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1990s and in particular, the leading role played by Filipino Read More →

August 11, 2014

Written by C.N.

Links, Jobs, & Announcements #78

Here are some more announcements, links, and job postings about academic-related jobs, fellowships, and other opportunities for those interested in racial/ethnic/diversity issues, with a particular focus on Asian Americans. As always, the announcements and links are provided for informational purposes and do not necessarily imply an endorsement of the organization or college involved.

Adjunct Positions: Asian American Studies, CUNY Hunter

The Read More →

June 5, 2014

Written by C.N.

In Memory of Yuri Kochiyama

You may have heard that long-time civil rights activist and Asian American icon Yuri Kochiyama passed away earlier this week at the age of 93. Readers can learn more details about her amazing life through boted Asian American scholar Diana Fujino’s biography Heartbeat of Struggle: The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama. Prominent Asian American blog Reappropriate also has links Read More →

June 4, 2014

Written by C.N.

New Books: Asian Americans and Global Communities

Among Asians and Asian Americans, “community” can take many different forms, whether it refers to the historical and contemporary dynamics of enclaves or diasporic and imagined frameworks of identity. As a reflection of this, the following books examine different examples and aspects of this emerging trend.

Making a Global Immigrant Neighborhood: Brooklyn’s Sunset Park, by Tarry Hum (Temple University Press)

Based on more Read More →