Separated: Inside an American Tragedy by Jacob Soboroff

THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

The award-winning NBC News correspondent lays bare the full truth behind the Trump administration’s systematic separation of families at the US-Mexico border

In June 2018, Donald Trump’s most notorious decision as president had secretly been in effect for months before most Americans became aware of the astonishing inhumanity being perpetrated by their own government. Jacob Soboroff was among the first journalists to expose this reality after seeing firsthand the living conditions of the children in custody. His influential series of reports ignited public scrutiny that contributed to the president reversing his own policy and earned Soboroff the Cronkite Award for Excellence in Political Broadcast Journalism and, with his colleagues, the 2019 Hillman Prize for Broadcast Journalism.

But beyond the headlines, the complete, multilayered story lay untold. How, exactly, had such a humanitarian tragedy—now deemed “torture” by physicians—happened on American soil? Most important, what has been the human experience of those separated children and parents?

Soboroff has spent the past two years reporting the many strands of this complex narrative, developing sources from within the Trump administration who share critical details for the first time. He also traces the dramatic odyssey of one separated family from Guatemala, where their lives were threatened by narcos, to seek asylum at the U.S. border, where they were separated—the son ending up in Texas, and the father thousands of miles away, in the Mojave desert of central California. And he joins the heroes who emerged to challenge the policy, and who worked on the ground to reunite parents with children.

In this essential reckoning, Soboroff weaves together these key voices with his own experience covering this national issue—at the border in Texas, California, and Arizona; with administration officials in Washington, D.C., and inside the disturbing detention facilities. Separated lays out compassionately, yet in the starkest of terms, its human toll, and makes clear what is at stake in the 2020 presidential election.

 

¡Viva George! Celebrating Washington’s Birthday at the US-Mexico Border by Elaine A. Peña

Since 1898, residents of Laredo, Texas, and Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, have reached across the US-Mexico border to celebrate George Washington’s birthday. The celebration can last a whole month, with parade goers reveling in American and Mexican symbols; George Washington saluting; and “Pocahontas” riding on horseback. An international bridge ceremony, the heart and soul of the festivities, features children from both sides of the border marching toward each other to link the cities with an embrace.

¡Viva George! offers an ethnography and a history of this celebration, which emerges as both symbol and substance of cross-border community life. Anthropologist and Laredo native Elaine A. Peña shows how generations of border officials, civil society organizers, and everyday people have used the bridge ritual to protect shared economic and security interests as well as negotiate tensions amid natural disasters, drug-war violence, and immigration debates.

Drawing on previously unknown sources and extensive fieldwork, Peña finds that border enactments like Washington’s birthday are more than goodwill gestures. From the Rio Grande to the 38th Parallel, they do the meaningful political work that partisan polemics cannot.

https://utpress.utexas.edu/books/pena-viva-george

 

New book: The Deportation Machine America’s Long History of Expelling Immigrants by Adam Goodman

To listen to an interview with the author, click here. Interview and write up done by Jaime Sánchez Jr. for New Books Network.

Many of us know that immigrants have been deported from the United States for well over a century, but has anyone ever asked how? In The Deportation Machine: America’s Long History of Expelling Immigrants(Princeton University Press, 2020), author Adam Goodman brings together new archival evidence to write an expansive history of deportation from the United States that threads the late-nineteenth century through to the present.

Goodman, Assistant Professor of Latin American and Latino studies as well as history at the University of Illinois at Chicago, argues that the “deportation machine” operated through three main mechanisms: formal deportations, voluntary departures, and self-deportations. But contrary to mainstream assumptions about the U.S. immigration system, the overwhelming majority of deportations throughout the 1900s have not been formal proceedings in immigration court, but instead administrative processes and informal fear campaigns that pushed immigrants out of the country. Our interview with Goodman will cover how the history of deportation is linked with the development of federal power, state coercion, and activist resistance for due process. We also discuss the connections between the deportation machine and the contemporary debate on the prison-industrial complex, anti-immigrant prejudice, and demands for police reform. Far beyond the harsh realities of deportation, this book shows us how the politics of expulsion sought to define who truly belonged in America.

New Book: The Hispanic Republican: The Shaping of an American Political Identity, from Nixon to Trump by Geraldo Cadava

For an audio interview between the author of this book, Geraldo Cadava and Tiffany Jasmin González, check out the New Books Network.

In the lead-up to every election cycle, pundits predict that Latino Americans will overwhelmingly vote in favor of the Democratic candidate. And it’s true—Latino voters do tilt Democratic. Hillary Clinton won the Latino vote in a “landslide,” Barack Obama “crushed” Mitt Romney among Latino voters in his reelection, and, four years earlier, the Democratic ticket beat the McCain-Palin ticket by a margin of more than two to one. But those numbers belie a more complicated picture. Because of decades of investment and political courtship, as well as a nuanced and varied cultural identity, the Republican party has had a much longer and stronger bond with Hispanics. How is this possible for a party so associated with draconian immigration and racial policies?

In The Hispanic Republican: The Shaping of an American Political Identity, from Nixon to Trump(Ecco, 2020), historian and political commentator Geraldo Cadava illuminates the history of the millions of Hispanic Republicans who, since the 1960s, have had a significant impact on national politics. Intertwining the little understood history of Hispanic Americans with a cultural study of how post–World War II Republican politicians actively courted the Hispanic vote during the Cold War (especially Cuban émigrés) and during periods of major strife in Central America (especially during Iran-Contra), Cadava offers insight into the complicated dynamic between Latino liberalism and conservatism, which, when studied together, shine a crucial light on a rapidly changing demographic that will impact American elections for years to come.

New Book: East of East The Making of Greater El Monte by Romeo Guzman, et. al.

Romeo Guzman’s and his colleague’s East of East: The Making of Greater El Monte (Rutgers University Press, 2020) is an edited collection of thirty-one essays that trace the experience of a California community over three centuries, from eighteenth-century Spanish colonization to twenty-first century globalization. Employing traditional historical scholarship, oral history, creative nonfiction and original art, the book provides a radical new history of El Monte and South El Monte, showing how interdisciplinary and community-engaged scholarship can break new ground in public history.

East of East tells stories that have been excluded from dominant historical narratives-stories that long survived only in the popular memory of residents, as well as narratives that have been almost completely buried and all but forgotten. Its cast of characters includes white vigilantes, Mexican anarchists, Japanese farmers, labour organizers, civil rights pioneers, and punk rockers, as well as the ordinary and unnamed youth who generated a vibrant local culture at dances and dive bars.

You can listen to a podcast interview here: https://newbooksnetwork.com/romeo-guzman-east-of-east-the-making-of-greater-el-monte-rutgers-up-2020/

New Book in September: Unforgetting: A Memoir of Family, Migration, Gangs, and Revolution in the Americas by Roberto Lovato

An urgent, no-holds-barred tale of gang life, guerilla warfare, intergenerational trauma, and interconnected violence between the United State and El Salvador, Robert Lovato’s memoir excavates family history and reveals the intimate stories beneath headlines about gang violence and mass Central American migration, one of the most important, yet least-understood humanitarian crises of our time–and one in which the perspectives of Central American in the United States have been silenced and forgotten.

The child of Salvadoran immigrants, Roberto Lovato grew up in 1970s and 80s San Francisco as MS-13 and other notorious Salvadoran gangs were forming in California. In his teens, he lost friends to the escalating violence, and survived acts of brutality himself. He eventually traded the violence of the streets for human rights advocacy in wartime El Salvador where he joined the guerilla movement against the U.S.-backed, fascist military government responsible for some of the most barbaric massacres and crimes against humanity in recent history.

Roberto returned from war-torn El Salvador to find the United States on the verge of unprecedented crises of its own. There, he channeled his own pain into activism and journalism, focusing his attention on how trauma affects individual lives and societies, and began the difficult journey of confronting the roots of his own trauma. As a child, Roberto endured a tumultuous relationship with his father Ramón. Raised in extreme poverty in the countryside of El Salvador during one of the most violent periods of its history, Ramón learned to survive by straddling intersecting underworlds of family secrets, traumatic silences, and dealing in black-market goods and guns. The repression of the violence in his life took its toll, however. Ramón was plagued with silences and fits of anger that had a profound impact on his youngest son, and which Roberto attributes as a source of constant reckoning with the violence and rebellion in his own life.

In Unforgetting, Roberto interweaves his father’s complicated history and his own with first-hand reportage on gang life, state violence, and the heart of the immigration crisis in both El Salvador and the United States. In doing so he makes the political personal, revealing the cyclical ways violence operates in our homes and our societies, as well as the ways hope and tenderness can rise up out of the darkness if we are courageous enough to unforget.

 

https://bookshop.org/books/unforgetting-a-memoir-of-family-migration-gangs-and-revolution-in-the-americas/9780062938473?fbclid=IwAR0FJjLBT29xyDBCd4GvZ5RNpbf7wnt6EuOZ5_6LQSburTvIxpcPH3BZoqE

The Deportation Machine: America’s Long History of Expelling Immigrants by Adam Goodman

Constant headlines about deportations, detention camps, and border walls drive urgent debates about immigration and what it means to be an American in the twenty-first century. The Deportation Machine traces the long and troubling history of the US government’s systematic efforts to terrorize and expel immigrants over the past 140 years. This provocative, eye-opening book provides needed historical perspective on one of the most pressing social and political issues of our time.

In a sweeping and engaging narrative, Adam Goodman examines how federal, state, and local officials have targeted various groups for expulsion, from Chinese and Europeans at the turn of the twentieth century to Central Americans and Muslims today. He reveals how authorities have singled out Mexicans, nine out of ten of all deportees, and removed most of them not by orders of immigration judges but through coercive administrative procedures and calculated fear campaigns. Goodman uncovers the machine’s three primary mechanisms—formal deportations, “voluntary” departures, and self-deportations—and examines how public officials have used them to purge immigrants from the country and exert control over those who remain. Exposing the pervasive roots of anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States, The Deportation Machineintroduces the politicians, bureaucrats, businesspeople, and ordinary citizens who have pushed for and profited from expulsion.

This revelatory book chronicles the devastating human costs of deportation and the innovative strategies people have adopted to fight against the machine and redefine belonging in ways that transcend citizenship.

New Book: Latinos and the 2016 Election: Latino Resistance and The Election of Donald Trump

This is a brand spanking new book coming out in May with Michigan State University Press put forth by Gabriel Sanchez, Luis Fraga, and Ricardo Ramírez. I hope it may be of interest…

 

The 2016 election saw more Latino votes than the record voter turnout of the 2012 election. The essays in this volume provide a highly detailed analysis of the state and national impact Latino voters had in what will be remembered as one of the biggest surprises in presidential election history. Contrary to much commentary, Latino voters increased their participation rates in all states beyond the supposed peak levels that they attained in 2012. Moreover, they again displayed their overwhelming support of Democratic candidates and even improved their Democratic support in Florida. Nonetheless, their continued presence and participation in national elections was not sufficient to prevent the election of Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate who vilified Latinos and especially Latino immigrants. Each essay provides insights as to how these two competing realities coexist, while the conclusion addresses the implications of this coexistence for the future of Latinos in American politics.

New Book: Migranthood: Youth in a New Era of Deportation

Migranthood chronicles deportation from the perspectives of Indigenous youth who migrate unaccompanied from Guatemala to Mexico and the United States. In communities of origin in Guatemala, zones of transit in Mexico, detention centers for children in the U.S., government facilities receiving returned children in Guatemala, and communities of return, young people share how they negotiate everyday violence and discrimination, how they and their families prioritize limited resources and make difficult decisions, and how they develop and sustain relationships over time and space.

Anthropologist Lauren Heidbrink shows that Indigenous youth cast as objects of policy, not participants, are not passive recipients of securitization policies and development interventions. Instead, Indigenous youth draw from a rich social, cultural, and political repertoire of assets and tactics to navigate precarity and marginality in Guatemala, including transnational kin, social networks, and financial institutions. By attending to young people’s perspectives, we learn the critical roles they play as contributors to household economies, local social practices, and global processes. The insights and experiences of young people uncover the transnational effects of securitized responses to migration management and development on individuals and families, across space, citizenship status, and generation. They likewise provide evidence to inform child protection and human rights locally and internationally.

About the author

Lauren Heidbrink is Assistant Professor of Human Development at California State University, Long Beach. She is the author of Migrant Youth, Transnational Families, and the State: Care and Contested Interests (2014).

Newish book: From South Texas to the Nation The Exploitation of Mexican Labor in the Twentieth Century by John Weber

John Weber, Assistant Professor of History at Old Dominion University, discusses his book, From South Texas to the Nation: The Exploitation of Mexican Labor in the Twentieth Century (University of North Carolina Press, 2015), migrant agricultural labor, immigration policy, and the long-term impacts of the labor relations model that developed in South Texas during the early twentieth century.

In the early years of the twentieth century, newcomer farmers and migrant Mexicans forged a new world in South Texas. In just a decade, this vast region, previously considered too isolated and desolate for large-scale agriculture, became one of the United States’ most lucrative farming regions and one of its worst places to work. By encouraging mass migration from Mexico, paying low wages, selectively enforcing immigration restrictions, toppling older political arrangements, and periodically immobilizing the workforce, growers created a system of labor controls unique in its levels of exploitation.

Ethnic Mexican residents of South Texas fought back by organizing and by leaving, migrating to destinations around the United States where employers eagerly hired them–and continued to exploit them. In From South Texas to the Nation, John Weber reinterprets the United States’ record on human and labor rights. This important book illuminates the way in which South Texas pioneered the low-wage, insecure, migration-dependent labor system on which so many industries continue to depend.

Listen to the interview here: https://newbooksnetwork.com/john-weber-from-south-texas-to-the-nation-the-exploitation-of-mexican-labor-in-the-twentieth-century-unc-press-2015/