|Immigration Policy and Stories Syllabus HONR 218P
Course Description: Immigration in America: Policy Choices and Personal Stories
In 1751 Benjamin Franklin ranted and raved against German immigrants: “"Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion.” Still today, despite the welcoming image of the Statue of Liberty, America remains deeply ambivalent and divided about the pros and cons of immigration.
This interdisciplinary course will consider public policy as well as examine fiction and film that convey the lived experience of twentieth and twenty-first century immigrants.
Our discussion of immigration policy will consider two main topics: immigration control and integration of immigrants. We begin with a threshold question about the rationale and morality of migration control: why do we have borders? After reviewing the history of U.S. immigration and the current system of visa allocation, we will discuss current policy issues. These include the tenuous status of undocumented workers; the challenge of responding to the recent wave of unaccompanied child migrants; and the criteria for extending asylum to political refugees and sex abuse victims. We next examine immigration reform, focusing on President Obama’s executive orders proposal deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) and for parents of citizens and lawful permanent residents (DAPA).
Our consideration of the integration topic begins with a discussion of theories of assimilation. We consider states’ proposals for tuition reform for “Dreamers” and the controversy over bilingual education. We also explore the economic impact of immigration, including effects on welfare programs, employment, and the GDP. We examine the voting patterns of various ethnic groups and in particular the ever increasing electoral clout of the Latino population.
Given the rich heterogeneity of our immigrant population, these stories convey a great variety of experience: determination to undertake difficult journeys; disappointment about barriers to entry; loneliness and confusion upon arrival; ambivalence about assimilation; anxieties associated with separation from homeland and family; economic and occupational challenges; response to racism and prejudice; identity (re)formation and hybridity.
Our sampling of fiction, film, photos, and narratives will include works from Latino, Asian-American, Middle Eastern, and African perspectives. The experiences of these more recent groups differ in material ways from that of the early twentieth century European immigrant. How do race and prejudice affect our newest immigrants’ experience of becoming American?
A premise of this course is that examining immigrants’ stories helps illuminate the real impact of public policy decisions on individual immigrant lives. Stories and film will be tied to our policy discussions so we can see how decisions on immigration control and hostility to immigrants affect their political, social, and economic integration in America.
At the end of the course the student will
Understand the history of U.S. immigration, both the idealist myth and the harsh reality, often stained by nativism and racism
Understand the current regime of US visa control based on employment categories and family ties
Be able to articulate a pro and con on leading policy issues including treatment of undocumented aliens; the Obama reform package; proposals to increase high-tech visas, and Dream Act tuition reform. The objective is not to reach a consensus but to understand the arguments and to be able to offer an informed critique
Be able to articulate the evolution of assimilation theory and take a position on its (in)applicability to 21st century immigration
Acquire familiarity with relevant research organizations, advocacy groups, web sites, and library data bases
Appreciate how the immigrant experience has enriched postwar American fiction and film
Through literary and visual narratives, gain an appreciation of the extent to which the immigrant experience, while often sharing common elements, reflects the origins and perspective of specific migrant populations
Readings and Topics for Class Discussion
Class 1. Jan 28 Explaining Migration Control: Why Do We Have Borders?
Read: Michael Walzer, “Membership”; Kevin Johnson, “Open Borders?”; Alexander Godin, “My Dead Brother Comes to America”; Anne Fadiman, “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down”
In class: “Island of Hope, Island of Tears”; Godfather Part 2 (arrival at Ellis and episode with Sen. Geary) film clips
Class 2. Feb 4 History of Immigration in the US
Read: Walter Ewing, “Opportunity and Exclusion: History of US Immigration Policy”; Frank Norris, “The Third Circle”; Sui Sin Far, “Land of the Free”; “Holocaust and Jewish Refugees”; Lauren Kessler, “Stubborn Twig” (Japanese Internment)
In class: “Paper Sons: Chinese American Illegal Immigrants”; “Japanese Internment During WW2”; “Forgotten Voices: Story of the Bracero Program”; CBS, “1960-Harverst of Shame” film clips
Class 3. Feb 11 Current Immigration Regime; Post 9/11 Tensions
Read: American Immigration Council, “How U.S. Immigration System Works Fact Sheet”; Michelle Mittelstadt et al., “Through the Prism of National Security: Major Immigration Policy and Program Changes in the Decade Since 9/11”; Mark Krikorian (CIS), “Safety in (Lower) Numbers”; Joseph Geha, “Alone and All Together”; Mohja Kahf, “The Spiced Chicken Queen of Mickaweaquah, Iowa”
In class: CBS, “End of NYPD Muslim Surveillance Program Applauded”; poetry reading on YouTube by Suheir Hammad: First Writing Since 9/11; other Arab-American poetry
Class 4. Feb 18 Refugee and Asylum Policies
Read: Doris Messner, “Refugee Act of 1980”; Andrew Shacknove, “Who is a Refugee?” ; Peter Singer and Renata Singer, “Ethics of Refugee Policy”; SF Gate, “Sex Slave Diary”; Chimamanda Adichie, “American Embassy”; Bernard Malamud’s “German Refugee”; George Saunders’s “Semplica Girls”
In class: Well‐Founded Fear film clip
Feb. 25 Short Essay Due
Class 5. Feb 25 Undocumented Immigrants
Read: Annette Berhardt et al, “Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers”; Texas Law Help ProCon.Org, “Employment Rights of Undocumented Workers”; CFR Backgrounder, “Child Migrant Influx”; Sarah Stillman, “Where are the Children? For Extortionists, Undocumented Migrants Have Become a Big Business”; “Deportation-Common Grounds for Removal”; Post, “Obama Administration Scales Back Deportation in Policy Shift”
In Class: “Which Way Home?” BBC, “Inside America’s $2bn Detention Industry” film clips
March 3 Deadline for Sign Up for Film Powerpoint Topics
Class 6. March 3 Reform Proposals; Immigrant Ambition
Obama Proposals, Executive Actions on Immigration 2014; American Immigration Council summary of Obama Reform; Orrin Hatch, “High Skilled Immigration bill”; Jerry Moran, “StartUp Act Entrepreneur Visa Proposal”; Beryl Benderly, “HiTech Worker Visa Proposal Opposition to I-Squared Immigration”; Amy Tan, “Two Kinds”; Malamud, “First Seven Years”
In class: Tan Le, “My Immigration Story” Ted Talk; God Forgot about Us: The Lost Boys of Sudan film clip
Class 7. March 10 Assimilation; Reinventing the Melting Pot; Color Tensions
Read: Susan Brown and Frank Bean, “Assimilation Models, Old and New”; Pew Research, “African Immigrants in the United States”; Jhumpa Lahir’s “Mrs. Sen” and “Hell-Heaven”; Adichie, “The Thing Around Your Neck”; Elizabeth Nunez, “Beyond the Limbo Silence”; Diana Abu-Jaber’s “My Elizabeth”
In class: Mississippi Masala film clips
March 17 NO CLASS SPRING BREAK
Class 8. March 24 Linguistic Integration
Read: Jack Citrin et al., “Testing Huntington: Is Hispanic Immigration a Threat to National Identity?”; Migration Policy Institute, “Pigments of our Imagination: Racialization of the Hispanic Latino Category”; Pew, “Hispanic Statistical Profile”; Esmeralda Santiago, “When I was Puerto Rican”; Sandra Cisneros, House on Mango Street-selected stories; Lan Samantha Chang, “The Unforgetting”
In class: CNN, “El Cenizo: The Texas Town That Speaks Only Spanish” Voice of America, “US Schools Try New Bilingual Education Method” film clips
In class: McFarland USA film clips
Class 9 March 31 Student Presentations of Immigration Film Powerpoints (10)
Read: Nancy Kim’s Chinhominey’s Secret (first half)
Class 10 April 7 Student Presentations of Film Powerpoints (10)
Read: Chinhominey’s Secret (second half)
Class 11 April 14 The Lived Experience of Immigrants
Read: Adichie’s “New Husband” and “Imitation”; Laila Halaby’s “Fire and Sand”
In class: Discussion of Chinhominey’s Secret; The Namesake film clips
Class 12 April 21 Economic Issues and Immigrant Voting
Read: Alan Greenspan, testimony on economic impact of immigration; Stephen Camorata (CIS), “Immigrant Entry and Native Exit”; Manhattan Project, “Economic Benefits Of Immigration”; Camorata, “Welfare Use by Immigrant Households with Children”; Cato, “Welfare Use by Immigrants; Pew Research, “Voting Rates of Latinos”; Philip Wolgin and Ann Garcia. “Immigration is Changing the American Political Landscape”; Brookings, “2014 Midterms: Patterns and Paradoxes in Voting among Asian Americans”
In class: Democracy Now, “Domestic Workers Win Bill of Rights in New York” (8 min); FSRN, “Labor Victories in SF Highlight Wage Theft Culture": Community and Labor Activists Fight Wage Theft”; Welcome to Shelbyville film clips
Class 13 April 28 Student Presentations of Final Projects
Class 14 May 5 Student Presentations of Final Projects
Texts for Purchase
Nancy Kim, Chinhominey’s Secret, Bridgeworks 2001 ISBN-13: 978-1882593491
Students are asked to prepare (a) one short essay of four pages each (double spaced) based on a personal narrative or a work of a published short story; (b) one ten minute oral presentation on film for their mid term; (c) a final project consisting of a power point on an immigration topic/problem area OR original fiction (approximately 10 pages) which will be due end of the term. For more information about assignments see Course Requirements Guide
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Grades will be determined as follows: 20% first essay, 20% first oral presentation, 40% final powerpoint, 20% participation and course blog postings. Students are expected to attend class regularly and to actively participate in class. Students will also occasionally contribute informal thoughts, newspaper items, etc. to a course blog (the discussion board on ELMS). Through blog postings, you can pose questions for class discussion, follow upon points raised in class, and bring to the attention of the class stories, news clips, and movies related to immigration.
A+ 100 – 97
A 96.9 – 93
A- 92.9 – 90
B+ 89.9 – 87
B 86.9 – 83
B- 82.9 – 80
C+ 79.9 – 77
C 76.9 – 73
C- 72.9 – 70
D+ 69.9 – 67
D 66.9 – 63
D- 62.9 – 60
F Below 60