The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of Immigration

The Politics of Immigration

As we all know, anti-immigration sentiments, prejudice and bigotry have been around a long, long time. But did you know that the genesis of the Beatles’ “Get Back” may have come from a rant against Enoch Powell by Paul McCartney during the dreadful “Get Back” studio sessions in 1969? Fascinating, rare footage of John and Paul cracking it up. [The Commonwealth Song]

The RP has referenced Barack Obama’s parents in the past, but a recent New York Times Sunday Magazine article about the president’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, is an absorbing examination of both an extraordinary mother and an American abroad. [Magazine]

¡HOLA! It’s CINCO DE MAYO! Do you really even know what Cinco de Mayo is or what it actually celebrates? (And it’s not, you norteamericano, Mexican Independence Day.) No, you don’t know and you probably don’t even care! Well at least educate yourself about Tequila, gringo!! [Salon

Okay, Low Rider certainly doesn’t have anything to do with Cinco de Mayo, but it is associated with the celebration of Chicano culture, ¿sí? So go grab a slice of lemon, some salt and a shot of tequila and enjoy this live performance from the 70s—straight from Soul Train. And ¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo, compadres! [War]

The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of Immigration

The Politics of Immigration

There can be no argument that Latinos and Hispanic culture have had an enormous impact on North American culture—from history to literature to music, cuisine, pop culture, language, y más y más. A federal commission is currently preparing a report on whether to open a national Latino museum in the Smithsonian Institution to celebrate and quantify Latino contributions in the United States. Check out this interesting “Room for Debate” on whether such a museum is necesario or even economically feasible in this economy. What do you think? [Room for Debate

As The Recovering Politician observed last week, Arizona has experienced a significant backlash in response to its anti-immigration bills and laws—including boycotts and cancelled conventions and conferences, costing the state more than $140 million in revenue. Several other states are considering bills similar to Arizona’s SB 1070. Why hasn’t the experience in Arizona deterred other state legislatures? [POLITICO

President Obama released his birth certificate yesterday, ending or contributing to the whole “birther” debate—depending on how you look at it. The “debate” has not been framed much in terms of anti-immigration, but the elements are certainly there (and were there long before the ink on the president’s birth certificate was even dry). [Multi-American

Check out this wonderful, playful version of “Englishman in New York” featuring Sting with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra live in Berlin. Cracking! [YouTube]

The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of Immigration

The Politics of Immigration

How does a liberal doctor, beekeeper and naturalist become the force behind an anti-immigration movement that includes members who refer to the President of the United States as “the undocumented worker” in the White House? A fascinating glimpse into the world of anti-immigrant groups and “the most influential unknown man in America.” [New York Times]

And as with most things in life, the topic of immigration is not black and white—not even in immigrant communities. [Pew Hispanic Center

Last week, The RP reported on the difficulty of quantifying the number of people that cross the U.S.-Mexico border each year. One thing is for sure: the number of arrests by border patrol agents have dropped by two-thirds over the last decade. The result? An epidemic of boredom among officers. [Los Angeles Times

Boycott or engagement? Arizona’s anti-immigration legislation has left a dearth of live concerts available to music loving Arizonans—and plenty of critics on both sides. [Salon

On a lighter note (and sticking with music), The RP has been looking for an opportunity to post this for a while. A band at the height of their powers, prowess and fame. Ahh, the 70s. [Immigrant Song]

Steven Schulman: The Greatest Job in the World

I have the greatest job in the world — or so I am told nearly every week or so, typically by a law student, but sometimes by colleagues and adversaries.  No, I am not the shortstop for the Boston Red Sox (Jed Lowrie is doing just fine, thank you very much). 

I am a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, an international law firm with more than 800 attorneys around the world.  And not just *any* partner, but the Pro Bono Partner, leading a firm-wide practice group in which more than 550 of my colleagues work every year, collectively devoting nearly 60,000 hours annually to a wide variety of indigent clients and public interest causes.  I work very hard, but I rarely bill an hour.

How did I get this gig?  Well, like many such stories, this one starts with a large Nigerian coming to my office one spring afternoon.  

On that day more than 13 years ago, I was a litigation associate at an even larger international law firm, Latham & Watkins.  My practice consisted primarily of advising large corporations facing all manner of antitrust issues, from mergers and acquisitions being challenged by the Department of Justice to competitors suing over allegedly wrongful conduct.  To put it bluntly, my practice was as relevant to a Nigerian man as the Washington Nationals are to the National League pennant race.

Placing Nigeria on a map...

But there he was, because I had raised my hand at a litigation group lunch when someone asked for help in this Nigerian’s immigration court case.  Once we settled into a conference room, Tolu introduced himself and then his quite large family — both physically and numerically.  My charge: get them asylum.  Second place: deportation back to Nigeria, likely to return to the prison where he had been detained and tortured for his pro-democracy activism.  I had never set foot in an immigration court, not could I confidently place Nigeria on a map.  But I did have enough legal training to figure it all out, and enough pressure, given the stakes, to motivate me to work as hard as I would for any paying client.

Obviously, we won, or else I would still be worrying about how to get approval for the merger of the largest and second-largest widget makers in the North American market.

Winning Tolu’s case set me on an unusual path, one that eventually led me to focus on pro bono practice half-time (at Latham) and then full-time (when I joined Akin Gump in 2006). 

It consequently led Jonathan to place on me the moniker of “recovering antitrust lawyer.”  I resisted this label at first – after all, I did not surrender my law firm credentials or lifestyle, and count among my partners some fine antitrust lawyers.  I am still very much part of the law firm world.  Then again, the recovering politicians who contribute to this site are in similar positions – at once quite engaged in politics, even if no
longer serving in office. 

Tolu and family

Like these RPs, I don’t reject my former practice. Rather, I embrace the law firm model and ethos, but work to improve our firm by pushing it to meet the lofty ideals of our profession. Representing Tolu, and subsequently other refugees from all over the world, inspired me not just to do this work myself, but to enlist others to use theirtalents to serve the less fortunate among us.  I continue to be inspired by my colleagues, who selflessly give their time to advise the KIPP charter schools or fight for Social Security benefits for disabled clients. 

My fellow Akin Gump attorneys show every day that the billable hour isn’t the only law firm value, as much as the profession has been driven to act more like a bottom-line business.

And now a tribute from another refugee advocate:

The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of Immigration

The Politics of Immigration

It’s extremely difficult to accurately estimate the number of people that cross into the United States each year from our southern neighbor. Most estimates are based on apprehension numbers from the border patrol. Clearly, it’s hard to extrapolate from those unlucky enough to have been caught and sent back over la frontera. The solution, it turns out, may be as simple as picking through the garbage. [Nature]

British Prime Minister David Cameron again makes controversial statements regarding immigrants in Great Britain. Apparently, immigrants in the UK have created a “kind of discomfort and disjointedness” in British communities. Whatever your political feelings about immigration are, only a British PM would classify animosity towards immigrants as “discomfort”—that’s what happens when you let your knickers down! [The Guardian

In case you missed it, France formally banned on Monday the wearing of full veils (niqabs) in public. Although very few Muslim women actually wear full veils (erroneously called burqas by the French) in France, the French government under President Sarkozy (L’Americain) has determined that they are a threat to public safety. A safety issue? Caving to anti-immigrant extremists? Anti-Islam politics at its most cynical? Or a necessary safeguard against the loss of French identity? What do you think? [New York Times

Hey, do you like Latino music, but get sick of eating chips and salsa to recycled Mariachi songs at your favorite taco stand? There’s mucho más música available from Latin America. Check out [Alt.Latino] ahora!


The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of Immigration

The Politics of Immigration

What happens if you meet a beautiful Madagascan or a suave Uruguayan, on a student visa or H1B in the United States, fall in love and can’t live without them? You want to stay together—you get married, right? What happens if you and your immigrant partner happen to be gay? Life could become easier for you with the end of DOMA. [The Guardian]

Regardless of her guilt or innocence, Azra Basic’s story reminds us of the brutal insanity of war and the sometimes complicated task of resettlement and redemption in a country that has welcomed the tired, the poor, the huddled masses for generations. [The New York Times]

Are you smart enough to pass the United States Citizenship test? According to numerous surveys, probably not. Maybe we should just make it easier. Watch! [Bill Maher]

Oh, so you think you could take (and pass) a real US Citizenship test, Sparky? Go ahead, give it a try—and no cheating!! And by the way, once you’ve successfully completed the test, make sure you have your $700.00 per family member fee ready. [Take the Test!]

Want to emigrate to the U.S.? Probably best not to be a famous Liverpudlian anti-war activist in the Nixon / Hoover era. A fascinating interview with author Jon Wiener on INS efforts to deport John Lennon in the ‘70s. [Fresh Air]

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