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The resources below have been selected to support the University of Portland's Border Immersion program. The annotations are drawn from a variety of review and summary sources.
Bowden, C., & Cardona, J. (2010). Murder city: Ciudad juárez and the global economy's new killing fields. New York, NY: Nation Books.
Ciudad Juárez lies just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas. A once-thriving border town, it now resembles a failed state. Infamously known as the place where women disappear, its murder rate exceeds that of Baghdad. Last year 1,607 people were killed—a number that is on pace to increase in 2009. In Murder City, Charles Bowden—one of the few journalists who has spent extended periods of time in Juárez—has written an extraordinary account of what happens when a city disintegrates. Interweaving stories of its inhabitants—a raped beauty queen, a repentant hitman, a journalist fleeing for his life—with a broader meditation on the town’s descent into anarchy, Bowden reveals how Juárez’s culture of violence will not only worsen, but inevitably spread north.
Haerens, M.. (2006). Illegal immigration. Detroit, MI: Greenhaven Press.
From the opposing viewpoints series
Mills, N., & Morrison, T. (1994). Arguing immigration: The debate over the changing face of America. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
A collection of writings providing a wide diversity of answers to one of today's most emotionally charged questions. Spanning the whole political spectrum and covering issues from jobs and the economy to race and culture, it includes the strong opinions of writers and critics from Toni Morrison to Francis Fukuyama.
Newton, L. (2008). Illegal, alien, or immigrant: The politics of immigration reform. New York, NY: New York University Press.
Lina Newton carefully dissects the political debates over contemporary immigration reform. Beginning with a close look at the disputes of the 1980s and 1990s, she reveals how a shift in legislator’s portrayals of illegal immigrants—from positive to overwhelmingly negative—facilitated the introduction and passing of controversial reforms.
Riley, J. L. (2008). Let them in: The case for open borders. New York, NY: Gotham Books.
The argument that immigrants depress wages, displace workers, boost crime and disease, and pose a threat to the national security of the U.S. runs counter to political ideals of free trade and the views of conservative hero President Ronald Reagan, who supported amnesty for illegal immigrants and open borders, according to Riley, a conservative columnist. He challenges the notion that the current targets of immigrant ire—Hispanics—are somehow different from immigrants of the past. An illuminating look at immigration.
Thompson, G. (2010). Working in the shadows: A year of doing the jobs (most) Americans won't do. Boulder, CO: Nation Books.
Gabriel Thompson spent a year working alongside Latino immigrants, who initially thought he was either crazy or an undercover immigration agent. He stooped over lettuce fields in Arizona, and worked the graveyard shift at a chicken slaughterhouse in rural Alabama. He dodged taxis—not always successfully—as a bicycle delivery “boy” for an upscale Manhattan restaurant, and was fired from a flower shop by a boss who, he quickly realized, was nuts.
Urrea, L. A. (2004). The devil's highway: A true story. New York, NY: Little, Brown.
Describes the attempt of twenty-six men to cross the Mexican border into the desert of southern Arizona, a region known as the Devil's Highway, detailing their harrowing ordeal and battle for survival against impossible odds. Only 12 men came back out.
Bonifacio, M. & Famiglietti, C. (Producers), & Bonifacio, M. (Director).
(2008). Amexicano [DVD]. Los Angeles, CA: Maya Entertainment.
Fiction – A Queens Italian befriends an undocumented day laborer after picking him up to help with construction work. Not about border crossing, but about the life of a immigrant living in NYC. Trailer available online at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkYiObnnaEQ
Champagne, J. A. (Producer), &
Burgard, C. (Director). (2005). Border [DVD]. California: Little Bonanza
Productions & Max Ink Productions.
Using footage obtained over the course of a month on the southern border of the US covering four states, Border reveals the cause and effects on the people on both sides of the issue. With the help of ranchers, illegal immigrants, politicians, activists, and Minutemen Civil Defense Corps volunteers.
Davis, T. (Producer & Director). (2005). Mojados (wetbacks): Through the night [DVD]. Buena Park, CA: Vanguard Cinema.&
Director from Texas documents 4 Mexicans as they work their way to the border. Also interviews U.S. residents and border patrol officers
DeVivo, D. & MacMillan, L. (Producers), & Mathew, J., DeVivo, D. (Directors). (2006). Crossing Arizona [DVD]. United States: Crossing Arizona LLC.
Crossing Arizona explores the varied political, practical, and humanitarian stances of people directly involved in the Arizona immigration influx. It gives voice to the frustrated farmers who day after day repair fences and pick up trash; the humanitarians who place water stations in the desert; farmers who depend upon the illegal work force; political activists who rally against anti-migrant ballot initiatives, and the Minutemen, armed citizens who patrol the border.
Germano, R. (Producer & Director). (2010). The other side of immigration [DVD]. New Paltz, NY: RG Films.
This documentary is based on over 700 interviews with men and women in the Mexican countryside. The film explores why so many people leave small Mexican towns to work in the United States and what happens to the families and communities they leave behind. The audience is encouraged to think about new and creative ways that the U.S. and Mexican governments can work together to solve the problem of undocumented immigration.
Haynes, H. (Producer), & Torres, A. P. (Director). (2007). Wetback: The undocumented documentary [DVD]. Washington, DC: National Geographic.
From catching 'death trains' to Mexican gangs which rob and murder migrants on their way to the US and Canada from central American countries, the filmmakers take the viewer on a ride with brave people simply seeking a better life.
Mancuso, A. (Producer & Director). (2008). American harvest [DVD]. Rochester, NY: White Hot Films.
The documentary American Harvest powerfully portrays the truth about agriculture and migrant labor in the United States at the present time. In a series of candid interviews with farmers and farmworkers from Florida to New York the viewer objectively learns the facts and dispels the myths connected with migrant farmworkers. The film portrays the migrant reality that can't be ignored and which is rarely seen by most people.
Thomas, A. (Producer), & Nava, G. (Director). El Norte (The north) [DVD]. (2008). Irvington, NY: Criterion Collection.
Fiction - Plight of a brother and sister fleeing South America and traveling through Mexico to cross the border into California. The realities of life in El Norte are much different than what they believed.
Caputo, P. (2007). Life on the line: The Arizona-Mexico border. Virginia Quarterly Review, 83(2), 6-29.
In this article the author argues against establishing a wall in the Arizona-Mexico border to control illegal immigration and the smuggling of human contraband into the U.S. He details several experiences of Mexicans who migrated to the U.S. illegally, through crossing the Arizona border. The author also explores the impact of illegal immigration on the residents of Arizona. He then discusses the economic benefits being gained by the U.S. from the influx of illegal workforce.
Carruthers, D. V. (2008). The globalization of environmental justice: Lessons from the U.S.-Mexico border. Society & Natural Resources, 21(7), 556-568.
This article is part of an emerging effort to explore environmental justice as it appears in Latin America, both as a symbol of popular mobilization and as a set of principles for scholarly analysis and interpretation. The study begins on the U.S.-Mexico border, with one community's struggle against industrial hazardous waste. It then considers larger regional efforts to develop cross-border environmental justice collaboration, and a national campaign to create more authentic right-to-know laws in Mexico. Northern Mexico also provides a point of departure for a broader analysis of the promise and limits of environmental justice in Latin America. While the constraints are serious and the successes mixed, the article finds hopeful potential, arguing that environmental justice takes on myriad, local forms that fuse environmental goals into existing popular movements for social justice.
Dangerous desert, breached border. (2005). Economist, 374(8708), 37-38.
The article examines how the flow of migrants to the United States has become prey to organised criminal gangs. However much security has been improve on the U.S. side of the border since the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001, would-be migrants continue to make the perilous journey north to seek better-paid jobs. The vast majority are Mexicans from the country's poorer south. Their numbers seem to have increased, despite a recovery in Mexico's economy. It is becoming harder for Mexico to sustain its hands-off approach to migration and the border--for two reasons. First, the migrants themselves suffer rising crime and violence. Second, some Mexicans argue that if Mexico were to take more responsibility for controlling its own borders, this would help the arguments of American politicians who support immigration reform. American officials worry that smuggling gangs could serve as a conduit for terrorists or their weapons to enter the United States. Mexico has done little to combat these increasingly organised gangs. As the debate on immigration reform heats up, some Mexicans are starting to say that their country will have to become part of the solution to border insecurity.
Fernández, L., Howard, C., & Amastae, J. (2007). Education, race/ethnicity and out-migration from a border city. Population Research & Policy Review, 26(1), 103-124.
Through a combination of high immigration rates and differential fertility, communities along the U.S.-Mexico border have become overwhelmingly Hispanic. El Paso, Texas, located across the border from Ciudad Juárez, forms part of the world’s largest urban center on a land border. El Paso ranks among the bottom 10 large U.S. metropolitan areas with the smallest proportion of college-educated adults, causing concerns among policy makers regarding its prospects for economic development. Local discourse suggests that low educational levels result from the out-migration of educated groups that find higher wages or better jobs elsewhere. Two sources of data are used to explore the association between education, race/ethnicity, and out-migration: the five percent 2000 PUMS and a survey conducted among students at the University of Texas at El Paso. We find that between 1995 and 2000 a large net outflow of non-Hispanic whites and blacks of all educational levels took place. Among Mexicans and Mexican Americans, college graduates were more likely to leave compared to high school graduates, but place of birth and language preference influenced these odds. Student data confirmed that non-Hispanics are significantly more likely to plan to leave compared to students of Mexican origin or descent. Among Mexicans and Mexican Americans, those who prefer English and mentioned jobs and lifestyle as the most important factors in choosing a place to live and work were more likely to have plans to leave upon graduation. Policy implications are discussed regarding the future of border communities.
Groody, D. G. (2009). Jesus and the undocumented immigrant: A spiritual geography of a crucified people. Theological Studies, 70(2), 298-316.
The article explores the spirituality of undocumented immigrants along the U.S./Mexico border. It first examines the connection between the outer geography of the immigrant journey and the inner, landscape that shapes immigrant spirituality. It then explores how this journey gives rise to the theological concept of the crucified peoples. Finally it looks at this christological concept in light of Christian mission and discipleship. As the article explores what strengthens and empowers immigrants, it also examines how the immigrant experience offers new ways of seeing some core elements of the Gospel narrative.
Heyer, K. E. (2008). Strangers in our midst: Day laborers and just immigration reform. Political Theology, 9(4), 425-453.
The recently released "On the Corner: Day Labor in the United States," the first systematic, scientific study of the US day-labor sector, exposes the pervasive abuse of day laborers within its borders. In a time when immigration reform debates are frequently clouded by rhetoric of fear and bias, this article aims to shed light on the precarious vulnerability of this understudied group and a Christian moral response to their plight. It offers a normative analysis of the treatment of day laborers in light of Catholic social teachings on human rights, work, and solidarity. It next uses the category of social sin to evaluate broader social forces at play sustaining the day-labor market: economic realities in Mexico and Central America; the US market's reliance on low-wage labor; and the role of fear and racism as immigration legislation incorporates increasingly punitive measures. The essay concludes with a brief constructive proposal concerning worker protections and just immigration reform in light of the foregoing analysis.
If Mexicans and Americans could cross the border freely. (2009). Independent Review, 14(1), 101-133.
The article presents a hypothetical scenario in which the U.S.-Mexico border was completely opened to Mexican nationals. The policy issues related to the concept of an open border are discussed, as well as the policy paralysis exhibited by the U.S. government on the topic of immigration under both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The authors' background is also discussed, noting their conservative political beliefs, identity as first-generation immigrants to the U.S., and probable lack of competition with Mexicans in the job market.
Jacoby, T. (2006). Immigration nation. Foreign Affairs, 85(6), 50-65.
The United States is far less divided on immigration than the current debate would suggest. An overwhelming majority of Americans want a combination of tougher enforcement and earned citizenship for the 12 million illegal immigrants in the country. Washington's challenge is to translate this consensus into sound legislation that will start to repair the nation's broken immigration system.
Meyler, D., & Peña, M. (2008). Walking with Latinas in the struggle for justice. Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, 24(2), 97-113.
This article focuses on El Centro Mujeres de la Esperanza (Women's Center of Hope, or CME), a faith-based nongovernmental women's organization serving women living along the U.S.-Mexico border in greater El Paso/Ciudad Juárez. The center has brought together Catholic sisters and women on both sides of the border in the pursuit of common goals toward social justice. The authors began their study with archival data and participant observation at CME, and then analyzed newsletters, pamphlets, flyers, and interviews conducted with two of the center's leaders. As Meyler and Peña show, analyzing these sources helps us understand how faith-based organizations like CME fit into a pattern of gender and ethnic activism that empower Latinas.
Michalowski, R. (2007). Border militarization and migrant suffering: A case of transnational social injury. Social Justice, 34(2), 62-76.
The article analyzes border militarization and its effects on irregular migrants in the concept of analogous social injury. The militarization of the U.S.-Mexico boundary line has altered the social injuries suffered by irregular migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in three broad categories such as bodily harms, exploitation by human smugglers and dehumanization in the form of hyper-criminalization. Deaths of migrants while crossing into the U.S. are few until 1994 when Operation Gatekeeper starts flooding popular border crossing areas around San Diego, California in an attempt to deter migrants before they cross the boundary line.
Orrenius, P. M. (2001, First Quarter). Illegal immigration and enforcement along the U.S.-Mexico border: An overview. Economic & Financial Review, 2-11.
Evaluates the determinants of illegal Mexico-United States (U.S.) migration and gives an overview of the enforcement and policy responses to date. Data sources and trends of illegal immigration; Origins and determinants of Mexico-U.S. migration; Analysis on the trends in border enforcement; Policy implications of illegal immigration; Conclusion.
Rappleye, C. (2007). Mexico, America, and the Continental Divide. Virginia Quarterly Review, 83(2), 60-82.
This article suggests the opening of the U.S.-Mexico border. The author argues that there is no way to prevent the continuing illegal migration from Mexico, save for institution of a massive internal control system, complete with a full militarization of the border, national identification (ID) cards and wholesale violations of rights guaranteed in the Constitution. He believes that there is no urgent need to stop immigration and that U.S. citizens have no right to stigmatize an entire generation of hardworking people from Mexico.
Sapkota, S., Kohl, H. W., Gilchrist, J., McAuliffe, J., Parks, B., England, B., Flood, T., Sewell, C. M., Perrotta, D., Escobedo, M., Stern, C. E., Zane, D., & Nolte, K. B. (2006). Unauthorized border crossings and migrant deaths: Arizona, New Mexico, and El Paso, Texas, 2002-2003. American Journal of Public Health, 96(7), 1282-1287.
Objectives. We examined the major causes of and risk factors for death among migrants who died while making unauthorized border crossings into the United States from Mexico. Methods. Decedents were included in the study if (1) their remains were found between January 1, 2002, and December 31, 2003, in any US county along the 650-mi (1040-km) section of the US-Mexican border from Yuma, Ariz, to El Paso, Tex; (2) their immigration status was unauthorized; and (3) they were believed to have died during transit from Mexico to the United States. Characteristics of the decedents and causes of and risk factors for their deaths were examined. Results. Among the 409 decedents meeting our inclusion criteria, environmental heat exposure (n = 250; 61.1%) was the leading cause of death, followed by vehicle crashes (n = 33; 8.1%) and drownings (n = 24; 5.9%). Male decedents (n = 298; 72.8%) outnumbered female decedents (n = 105; 25.6%) nearly 3 to 1. More than half of the decedents were known to be Mexican nationals (n = 235; 57.5%) and were aged 20 to 39 years (n = 213; 52.0%); the nationality of 148 (36.2%) decedents was undetermined. Conclusions. Deaths among migrants making unauthorized crossings of the US-Mexican border are due to causes that are largely preventable. Prevention strategies should target young Mexican men, and focus on preventing them from conceiving plans to cross the border, discouraging them from using dangerous routes as crossing points, and providing search-and-rescue teams to locate lost or injured migrant crossers.
Tamayo, J. A. (2002). Border crossings. Commonweal, 129(11), 10-12.
Discusses the issues of human rights granted to immigrants in the U.S. Assistance given by the Catholic Church to immigrants; Overview of a report on the U.S.-Mexico border by the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc. concerning national security and individual rights; Actions taken by the U.S. government to enforce border security.
Velázquez, L., Munguía, N., de los Ángeles Navarrete, M., & Zavala, A. (2006). An overview of sustainability practices at the maquiladora industry in Mexico. Management of Environmental Quality, 17(4), 478.
The goal of this study is to further the existing understanding of the diverging pollution prevention and occupational and safety practices undertaken in the Mexican maquiladora industry in order to promote the creation of a sustainable production system. This study explores in detail the occupational health, safety and environmental practices performed by six electronic maquiladoras located in the State of Sonora, Mexico. The OSHA's program evaluation profile (PEP) and cleaner production and pollution prevention and worker surveys were the instruments used for collecting information. All instruments were complemented with short interviews and walkthroughs in the production lines. Evidences from this study suggest that today's trends in maquiladoras production patterns continue to go in an unsustainable direction because of the lack of good environmental and occupational and safety practices. This study reveals the most telling and significant sustainability themes associated to the maquiladora industry that holds the exciting potential of protecting the environment and labor and strengthening economic growth through more efficient and sustainable production.Newspaper Articles
Billeaud, J. (2009, December 26). New Arizona law rekindles immigrant benefit debate. The Associated Press State & Local Wire.
Concern about a new Arizona law that denies government benefits to illegal immigrants.
Dinan, S. (2009, October 25). Casualties of immigration war: Land, animals, plants pay price on the border. The Washington Times, pp. 4.
The impact of illegal immigration and border security on the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona.
Fernandez, V. (2009, December 23). Migration: Letting go of the American dream. IPS - Inter Press Service.
Immigration reform drives some undocumented immigrants to return to Mexico.
Frank, T. (2009, March 25). Border security gets $184M boost; Measures aim to stem drug violence in Mexico. USA Today, pp. 3A.
A new federal plan will provide X-ray machines to scan Mexico-bound vehicles for drugs, weapons and cash.
Hall, M. (2009, March 11). 'Virtual fence' gets second chance on U.S. border; Ariz. network of sensors, cameras garners $100M in stimulus funds. USA Today, pp. 4A.
The economic stimulus package is providing additional funds to create a controversial virtual fence of sensors and cameras along the U.S./Mexico border.
Harris, D. (2009, December 20). Commentary: Arizona's immigration debate hasn't changed in 30 years. Arizona Capitol Times.
An editorial reviewing immigration policy over the past 30 years, concluding that not much has changed.
IT helps seal our borders. (2009, May 2). Techweb.
Economic stimulus funds will purchase technology to support border security.
Preston, J. (2009, Sept. 24). Survey shows pull of the U.S. is still strong inside Mexico. New York Times, 8.
In spite of high unemployment in the United States and strict border enforcement, one-third of Mexicans say they would move to this country if they could, and more than half of those would move even if they did not have legal immigration documents, according to a survey published Wednesday by the Pew Research Center. The United States still exerts a powerful attraction for Mexicans, the survey found, with 57 percent saying that those who leave home to settle here have better lives, while only 14 percent say life is worse in the United States.
Preston, J. (2009, November 14). White House plan on immigration includes legal status. The New York Times, pp. 10.
Announces the Obama administration's plans for immigration reform legislation, including measures for some illegal immigrants to achieve legal status.
Seper, J. (2009, February 22). Rancher ruling adds to border debate. The Washington Times, pp. A1.
Verdict in a lawsuit against a rancher sued by illegal immigrants he detained on his land.
Wagner, D., & Bazar, E. (2010, January 15). Arizona ' ground zero' of immigration fight. USA Today, pp. 3A.
Describes Arizona as a "flash point" for the immigration debate.
Zeleny, J., & Thompson, G. (2009, June 26). Republicans focus on guest workers in immigration debate. The New York Times, pp. 12.
Republicans announce they will only support Obama's immigration reform if it includes an expansion of the guest worker program.
American Immigration Council. (2010). Immigration policy center. Retrieved from http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/
The Immigration Policy Center (IPC) is the research and policy arm of the American Immigration Council. IPC's mission is to shape a rational national conversation on immigration and immigrant integration. Through its research and analysis, IPC provides policymakers, the media, and the general public with accurate information about the role of immigrants and immigration policy on U.S. society.
Massey, D. S. (2005). Five myths about immigration: Common misconceptions underlying U.S. border enforcement policy. Immigration Policy in Focus, 4(6), 1-10. Retrieved from http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/sites/default/files/docs/IPC%20five%20myths.pdf
Proposes five basic myths about immigration which need to be addressed before immigration reform can take place.
Pew Hispanic Center. (2010). Research on immigration. Retrieved from http://pewhispanic.org/topics/?TopicID=16.
A collection of links to the Pew Hispanic Center's publications about immigration; covering topics such as trends in migration flows, the characteristics of the foreign-born population and attitudes towards immigration policy issues.