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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.

September 23, 2010

Written by C.N.

New Books & Links: Immigration Reform

As part of this blog’s mission of making academic research and data more easily accessible, understandable, and applicable to a wider audience and to practical, everyday social issues, I highlight new sociological books about Asian Americans and other racial/ethnic groups as I hear about them. A book’s inclusion is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily mean a full endorsement of its contents.

In addition to mentioning new book releases, I will periodically include links to recent news articles from around the internet that relate to the books’ topic as well, to give readers a wider exposure to the different dynamics involved. This time around, I highlight books, recent news stories, and internet links that focus on the ongoing effort to achieve meaningful immigration reform.

Help Support the DREAM Act

Introduced several years ago in a bipartisan effort between Senators Orin Hatch (R-UT) and Richard Durbin (D-IL), the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act would allow young immigrants without legal status who meet several strict qualifications to apply for citizenship by completing a college education or serving at least two years in the U.S. military.

Since its introduction, it has languished in the Senate as the ideological debate over unauthorized immigration continues to boil and churn. Last week, efforts to pass it as part of a Defense Appropriations bill failed. Nonetheless, you can still show your support for this bill that would benefit many deserving Americans by contacting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and your state’s Senators and asking them to support the bill by calling for an immediate vote as a stand-alone bill.

9500 Liberty Documentary to Air this Sunday

The much-anticipated and critically-acclaimed documentary 9500 Liberty (produced by notable Asian American filmmakers Eric Byler and Annabel Park) is scheduled to be shown on several channels of the MTV Network (MTV2, MTV U, and MTV Tr3s with Spanish subtitles) this Sunday, Sept. 26th at 8 PM ET/PT. Below is the synopsis from the documentary’s website and its trailer:

Prince William County, Virginia becomes ground zero in America’s explosive battle over immigration policy when elected officials adopt a law requiring police officers to question anyone they have “probable cause” to suspect is an undocumented immigrant.

9500 Liberty reveals the startling vulnerability of a local government, targeted by national anti-immigration networks using the Internet to frighten and intimidate lawmakers and citizens. Alarmed by a climate of fear and racial division, residents form a resistance using YouTube videos and virtual townhalls, setting up a real-life showdown in the seat of county government.

The devastating social and economic impact of the “Immigration Resolution” is felt in the lives of real people in homes and in local businesses. But the ferocious fight to adopt and then reverse this policy unfolds inside government chambers, on the streets, and on the Internet. 9500 Liberty provides a front row seat to all three battlegrounds.

Newcomers, Outsiders, and Insiders: Immigrants and American Racial Politics in the Early Twenty-first Century, by Ronald Schmidt Sr., Rodney E. Hero, Andrew L. Aoki, and Yvette M Alex-Assensoh (University of Michigan Press)

Newcomers, Outsiders, and Insiders, by Schmidt, Hero, Aoki, and Alex-Assensoh

Over the past four decades, the United States has experienced the largest influx of immigrants in its history. Not only has the ratio of European to non-European newcomers changed, but the numbers of recent arrivals from the Asian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, South America, and other regions are increasing.

In this timely study, a team of political scientists examines how the arrival of these newcomers has affected the efforts of long-standing U.S. minority groups — Blacks, Latinos, and Asian Pacific Americans — to gain equality through greater political representation and power. The authors predict that, for some time to come, the United States will function as a complex multiracial hierarchy, rather than as a genuine democracy.

From Immigrants to Americans: The Rise and Fall of Fitting In, by Jacob L. Vigdor (Rowman & Littlefield)

From Immigrants to Americans, by Vigdor

Immigration has always caused immense public concern, especially when the perception is that immigrants are not assimilating into society they way they should, or perhaps the way they once did. But is this truly a modern phenomenon? In From Immigrants to Americans, Jacob Vigdor offers a direct comparison of the experiences of immigrants in the United States from the mid-19th century to the present day.

His conclusions are both unexpected and fascinating. From Immigrants to Americans is an important book for anyone interested in immigration, either the history or the modern implications, or who want to understand why today’s immigrants seem so different from previous generations of immigrants and how much they are the same.

Learning a New Land: Immigrant Students in American Society, by Carola Suárez-Orozco, Marcelo M. Suárez-Orozco, and Irina Todorova (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press)

From Immigrants to Americans, by Suárez-Orozco, Suárez-Orozco, and Todorova

One child in five in America is the child of immigrants, and their numbers increase each year. Very few will return to the country they barely remember. Who are they, and what America do they know?

Based on an extraordinary interdisciplinary study that followed 400 newly arrived children from the Caribbean, China, Central America, and Mexico for five years, this book provides a compelling account of the lives, dreams, and frustrations of these youngest immigrants. Richly told portraits of high and low achievers are packed with unexpected ironies.

When they arrive, most children are full of optimism and a respect for education. But poor neighborhoods and dull–often dangerous–schools can corrode hopes. The vast majority learn English — but it is the English of video games and the neighborhood, not that of standardized tests.

For some of these children, those heading off to college, America promises to be a land of dreams. These lucky ones have often benefited from caring mentors, supportive teachers, or savvy parents. For others, the first five years are marked by disappointments, frustrations, and disenchantment. How can we explain their varied academic journeys?

The children of immigrants, here to stay, are the future — and how they adapt will determine the nature of America in the twenty-first century.

Beside the Golden Door: U.S. Immigration Reform in a New Era of Globalization, by Pia Orrenius and Madeline Zavodny (American Enterprise Institute)

Beside the Golden Door, by Orrenius and Zavodny

“I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” The last line of Emma Lazarus’s famous poem invites immigrants to enter a land of economic opportunity. Many have accepted that invitation; today, foreign-born workers make up nearly 16 percent of the U.S. workforce and account for almost half of workforce growth over the last decade. Rather than capitalizing on these gains, however, recent immigration reforms have resulted in an inefficient, patchwork system that shortchanges high-skilled immigrants and poorly serves the American public.

Beside the Golden Door: U.S. Immigration Reform in a New Era of Globalization proposes a radical overhaul of current immigration policy designed to strengthen economic competitiveness and long-run growth. Pia M. Orrenius and Madeline Zavodny outline a plan that favors employment-based immigration over family reunification, making work-based visas the rule, not the exception. They argue that immigration policy should favor high-skilled workers while retaining avenues for low-skilled immigration; family reunification should be limited to spouses and minor children; provisional visas should be the norm; and quotas that lead to queuing must be eliminated.

A selective immigration policy focused on high-skilled, high-demand workers will allow the United States to compete in an increasingly global economy while protecting the interests of American citizens and benefiting taxpayers. Orrenius and Zavodny conclude that while not all potential immigrants who knock at the golden door should be admitted, the door should swing wide open to welcome those who desire nothing more than the opportunity to work for the American dream.


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Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "New Books & Links: Immigration Reform" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2010/09/new-immigration-reform/> ().

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