With the Senate poised to approve a bill that will overhaul U.S. immigration laws, immigration policy isfront and center in national news and political debate. But what lies beyond the headlines? The debate has engaged participants from all perspectives and across race, class, and political lines. We asked SUP Publishing Director and Editor-in-Chief, Kate Wahl, to recommend some titles that shed insight on some of those perspectives.
SUP author Jody Vallejo, chosen among OC Weekly's annual "Best of" issue as "one of their favorite things about Ocean County," approaches the issue from the perspective of immigrants themselves. In Barrios to Burbs: The Making of the Mexican American Middle Class, she aims to overturn "popular misconceptions about Mexican Americans and Latinos: that they are overwhelmingly poor, uneducated, unauthorized, and unlikely to succeed over time."
In The Latino Threat (second edition, which will address "anchor babies," the DREAM Act, and recent state anti-immigrant legislation, just out), Leo R. Chavez exposes how prejudices and stereotypes have been used to malign an entire immigrant population and to define what it means to be an American. Through a perceived refusal to learn English and an “out of control” birthrate, many say that Latinos are destroying the American way of life. Chavez offers facts to counter the myth that Latinos are a threat to the security and prosperity of our nation.
Finally, in Remaking Citizenship: Latina Immigrants and New American Politics, Kathleen M. Coll. Like Vallejo, she argues for a reformulation of our definitions of citizenship and politics, one inspired by Mexican and Central American women who are usually perceived as excluded from both. Weaving the stories of Mexican and Central American women with history and analysis of the anti-immigrant upsurge in 1990s California, this compelling book examines the impact of reform legislation on individual women's lives and their engagement in grassroots political organizing. Their accounts of personal and political transformation offer a new vision of politics rooted in concerns as disparate as domestic violence, childrearing, women's self-esteem, and immigrant and workers' rights.