Donald Trump’s Generous Offer on Jerusalem

By Salim Tamari, author of The Great War and the Remaking of Palestine

As Israel celebrates, and the rest of the world condemns, Donald Trump’s declaration of U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, it is pertinent to recall on this issue Arthur Koestler’s famous quip, made a century ago in reference to the Balfour Declaration, that “one nation solemnly promised to a second nation the country of a third.”

Two unintended consequences emerge from the new U.S. position: first, it brings the status of Jerusalem back to the limelight, after it was pushed to the back burner by the Syrian and Yemeni wars; and second, it has clearly placed the United States outside of the international consensus with regard to any future peace process over the status of the city, or indeed within the Arab-Israeli conflict. This has opened the door to other global and regional actors, particularly Europe, Russia, and Turkey, as future mediators. In fact, some of the earliest responses to Trump’s declaration came from these quarters. Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan voiced the possibility of severing diplomatic relations with Israel, and French president Emmanuel Macron announced his total rejection of the “unilateral” U.S. move, which he described as “regrettable” and “against international law and all the resolutions of the UN Security Council.” German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel described Trump’s decision as “counterproductive” to the peace process.

The debate over Jerusalem status happened when Palestinians were commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of the first intifada – which some observers will recall exploded over control over Jerusalem’s public space:

The battle for control over the streets of Jerusalem was the most protracted and perhaps due to the centrality of the city in the Israeli strategy of control over the territories, the most crucial. It was sparked by General Sharon’s transfer of his residence to the Old City of Jerusalem on December 14th, 1987, with the onset of the major demonstrations in Gaza. A commercial strike commenced in Jerusalem and continued unabated for forty-one days, igniting a series of solidarity strikes in other West Bank townships, most notably in Nablus and Ramallah.

Jerusalem was then, as it is today, the beginning and end of the intifada. The pacification of Jerusalem as an arena of rebellion during the 1990s did not last, despite Israel’s continuing efforts – including rezoning the city’s Arab periphery, residency regulations, and demographic policies of exclusion – to suppress its Palestinian Arab population and sever it from its Palestinian Arab milieu, for whom it lies at the heart of the question of independence.

Logistically, the U.S. decision brings back the thorny issue of the location for the prospective Jerusalem embassy. One of the likeliest places, it appears, remains the contested territory of the so-called Allenby Barracks, which was sequestered from Jerusalemite Arab Khalidi, ‘Alami, and Ansari families over the last half-century. However, this is a minor detail in a larger issue that concerns the future of the occupied territories and the status of Jerusalem as the capital of two sovereign states. Underlying the objections of the majority of countries, including the United States until recently (that is, until Trump’s election), to Israel control of Jerusalem has been UN General Assembly resolution 181, which affirmed the partition plan for Palestine and the creation of an international zone in Jerusalem known as the corpus separatum. That notion established in the city a special international regime in which both Palestinians and Israelis would have a dual national identity in the city. Given the slow death of the peace process and the de facto withdrawal of the United States from a mediating role, is it time – seventy years later – to revive this plan for Jerusalem?


A leading expert on Jerusalem, Salim Tamari is Professor of Sociology at Birzeit University, Palestine, Director of the Institute of Jerusalem Studies, editor of the Jerusalem Quarterly, and author most recently of The Great War and the Remaking of Palestine.

Employing nuanced ethnography, rare autobiographies, and unpublished maps and photos, The Great War and the Remaking of Palestine discerns a self-consciously modern and secular Palestinian public sphere. New urban sensibilities, schools, monuments, public parks, railways, and roads catalyzed by the Great War and described in detail by Salim Tamari show a world that challenges the politically driven denial of the existence of Palestine as a geographic, cultural, political, and economic space.


How Race and Neoliberalization Shaped Chicago Politics

Chicago has attracted the gaze of journalists, novelists, essayists, and scholars as much as any city in the nation. And, yet, few historians have attempted big-picture narratives of the city’s transformation over the twentieth century.

Chicago on the Make: Power and Inequality in a Modern City traces the evolution of the city’s politics, culture, and economy as it grew from an unruly tangle of rail yards, slaughterhouses, factories, tenement houses, and fiercely defended ethnic neighborhoods into a truly global urban center.

Reinterpreting the familiar narrative that Chicago’s autocratic machine politics shaped its institutions and public life, acclaimed historian Andrew J. Diamond demonstrates how the grassroots politics of race crippled progressive forces and enabled an alliance of downtown business interests to promote a neoliberal agenda that created the stark inequalities that ravage the city today.

From his introduction, Diamond describes the idea of Chicago vs. its reality:

Chicago has evoked so much that is patently American, and it continues to do so today even after President Trump attempted to make it into an aberration by evoking the “carnage” on its streets. First and foremost, with its 2.7 million residents (nearly 10 million in the entire metropolitan area), it is the clear-cut capital of the Midwest and thus of the fabled American “heartland”—a nebulous place that politicians of every stripe appeal to in order to convince voters that they represent the “real” people. And Chicago strikes this populist chord in ways that other “great” American cities do not. In contrast with the dominant image of the good people residing in the older, educated cities of the eastern seaboard, for example, the stereotypical Chicagoan speaks in a thick accent, pronouncing words like the and these as “da” and “dese.” While notions of class justice (and injustice) now struggle for legitimacy within the realm of mainstream political discourse in the United States, American patriotism nonetheless remains infused with celebrations of average working men and women—which keeps Chicago a working-class town in the American imagination, even if it now ranks among the most economically powerful global cities in the world.

A people’s history, Chicago on the Make sheds new light on how the interplay of race and neoliberalization shaped Chicago’s political culture.

Join Andrew J. Diamond at one of his Chicago speaking engagements:

Tuesday, November 7
6-7pm
Chicago Public Library: Harold Washington Library Center
Free and open to the public
Check the event page for more details

Wednesday, November 8
6-7:30pm
Newberry Research Library
Free and open to the public
Check the event page for more details

Thursday, November 9
5:45-8pm
Chicago History Museum
$25, price includes dinner and parking
Check the event page for more details


Black against Empire: Read, Resist, Repeat

Photo via @SFPublicLibrary on Twitter

“You can’t sit in against poverty. You can’t sit in against police brutality.”
—Joshua Bloom

“You have to dream a different world… The Party was totally committed to action.”
—Waldo E. Martin Jr.

This past Sunday in front of a full house at the San Francisco Public Library, Black against Empire authors Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin Jr. spoke with journalist Davey D Cook about the Black Panther Party’s legacy and how the movement continues to impart important lessons for today, especially for those interested in political organizing.

While programming for One City One Book winds down in November, copies of Black against Empire can be found in all San Francisco libraries and at bookstores around the city. Enhance your reading with discussion questions, images from the library’s archives, and the Party’s ten-point program.

November Events

Revolution 67 Thursday, November 2, 12 p.m. Main Library, Koret Auditorium 100 Larkin St.

An illuminating account of the six-day Newark, N.J. outbreak on July 12, 1967. The film reveals how the disturbance began as spontaneous revolts against poverty and police brutality and ended as fateful milestones in America’s struggles over race and economic justice.

The Black Press: Soldiers without Swords Thursday, November 9, 12 p.m. Main Library, Koret Auditorium 100 Larkin St.

An engaging historical account that tells the story of the pioneering men and women of the Black press who gave voice to Black America.

Good Hair Thursday, November 16, 12 p.m. Main Library, Koret Auditorium 100 Larkin St.

Prompted by a question from his young daughter, comic Chris Rock sets out to explore the importance of hair in black culture

Art and Activism Exhibit Through November 30, Main Library, 4th Floor Rotunda & Grove Street exhibit space 100 Larkin St.

Artwork of Emory Douglas, Melanie Cervantes and Faviana Rodriguiz Using bold colors and high contrast images, these artists’ works reflect both the local and global community and their resistance in a struggle to create a new world.

View the Complete Fall Program


The Irrepressible Politics of the Black Panther Party

This Sunday, if you’re in the Bay Area, join Black against Empire authors Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin for a special One City One Book event. They’ll discuss the history and politics of the Black Panther Party and how the movement links to today’s political landscape and struggles.

Sunday, October 29 at 1 p.m.
Main Library, Koret Auditorium
100 Larkin St.
San Francisco, CA
Free and open to the public, visit the event page for more info

To prepare for the event or for your own conversations, consider the following questions, provided by the San Francisco Public Library.

BOOK DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1 How did the party’s hierarchical structure affect its dynamics and its ultimate impact?

2 What drew thousands of new recruits to the Black Panther Party’s message of violent revolution in an era otherwise marked by the peaceful protests of the civil-rights movement?

3 In an iconic photo that was displayed in most Black Panther Party offices, Huey P. Newton is depicted with an ironclad grip on a rifle. What do you see as the difference between the Black Panthers’ perspective on gun rights and that of the modern-day National Rifle Association?

4 How did government policies like defamation, espionage, and the embedding of provocateurs affect the party’s momentum?

5 One of the central arguments in Black against Empire is that what lay behind the Black Panther Party’s growth and influence, what made them synonymous with the Black Power Movement rather than the many other contemporary black nationalist organizations, was their ability to form alliances and coalitions—namely with moderate, more establishment black organizations, white student leftists, sympathetic revolutionary governments abroad and Latino, Native American and Asian radical groups in the U.S. How difficult was it to maintain and balance such alliances, to keep people within the party on board and to avoid being co-opted by less militant groups? What, if any, prospects do you see for any similar alliances being formed for contemporary revolutionary politics in urban America?

6 The rise of the Black Panther Party coincided with some of the largest urban uprisings in US history: Watts in 1965 and Newark, and Detroit in 1967. In the last two years we have seen similar rebellions in Ferguson, Baltimore and elsewhere. In many cases in both the 60s and today, the spark has been a police murder or assault on a black person. What parallels do you see between these periods?

7 The Black Panther, the Party’s newspaper, played a central role in the movement. It provided information of relevance about local, national and international struggles. It was also used as a powerful propaganda tool against the state and for internal discipline within the Party increasingly for its announcements of Party members being purged. Its circulation reached 150,000. Discuss the impact and effect of a media tool controlled by the Party. What are the parallels to the media of today?

8 The sheer extent of COINTELPRO infiltration, agent provocateurs and state-sanctioned murder of Panthers only became known years after the Party’s demise, though the campaign of vilification and repression by the US government was clear to Panthers at the time. Today in the U.K., as in the U.S., the state is widening its conceptions of ‘extremists’ and ‘terrorists’, continuing to criminalize those who organize against state oppression. How did the Panthers cope with the widespread propaganda offensive against them? To what extent did heavy state repression galvanize support for the party and was it state infiltration that was more damaging? What lessons can contemporary movements learn from state interference with the Party?

View the Program Guide for Remaining Events


Black against Empire: One City One Book Upcoming October Events

San Francisco’s annual literary event, One City One Book, continues with Black against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party, and October is packed with an exciting mix of citywide events. This month, get your hands on history with a close-up look into the library’s archives, head across the Bay and ride to significant sites of the Black Panther Party, join a lively discussion of activism and today’s resistance movements, or find yourself immersed in a topical film at one of the many screenings.

And be sure to mark your calendars for a special event with authors Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin Jr.:

SPECIAL EVENT Author Talk: The Irrepressible Politics of the Black Panther Party  Sunday, October 29, 1 p.m. Main Library, Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin St.

Join authors Joshua Bloom and Waldo Martin in conversation with journalist Davey D Cook as they discuss Black against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party.

View the Complete Fall Program

October Events

Blacks, Blues, Black! Film screening Wednesday, October 4, 6 p.m. Main Library, Koret Auditorium 100 Larkin St.

Join the San Francisco History Center for the screening of Dr. Maya Angelou’s 1968 series, Blacks, Blues, Black! which examines the influence of African American culture on modern American society.

Bicycle Tour with bike collective, Red Bike and Green Saturday, October 7, 1 p.m.

Meet at DeFremery Park in Oakland Ride your bike to tour sites of importance to the Black Panther Party.

Hands on History: All Power to the People Tuesdays, October 10 & 24, 6 p.m. Main Library, SF History Center 100 Larkin St.

Be part of an experience that brings San Francisco revolution and resistance history to your fingertips. Join us for a close-up show-and-tell of San Francisco history through original manuscripts, newspapers, and photographs which document Black Panther Party and San Francisco’s legacy of resistance. Space limited to 30.

Litquake Presents Black against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party Tuesday, October 10, 7 p.m. American Bookbinders Museum 355 Clementine St., San Francisco

Co-author Waldo E. Martin in conversation with Oakland-based writer and artist, D. Scot Miller. Co-presented by Friends of the San Francisco Public Library

Free Angela and All Political Prisoners Thursday, October 12, 12 p.m. Main Library, Koret Auditorium 100 Larkin St.

A documentary that chronicles the life of young college professor Angela Davis, and how her social activism implicates her in a botched kidnapping attempt that ends with a shootout, four dead, and her name on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list.

Book Discussion Saturday, October 14, 10:30 a.m. Main Library, Library for the Blind & Print Disabled, 100 Larkin St. (415) 557-4253

Get Out Thursday, October 19, 12 p.m. Main Library, Koret Auditorium 100 Larkin St.

A young African American man meets his white girlfriend’s parents during a weekend in their secluded estate in the woods, but before long, the friendly and polite ambience gives way to a nightmare.

The Defender Film Screening and Talk Back with Jeff Adachi and the Press Saturday, October 21, 1 p.m. Main Library, Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin St.

An insightful documentary focuses on San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi as he and his team take on a high-profile case which suggests black-crime bias in ostensibly liberal San Francisco.

Emory Douglas: Art and Activism Panel discussion Sunday, October 22 1 p.m. Main Library, Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin St.,

Emory Douglas, the Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party, who created some of the most iconic images of Black Power, in conversation with other artists discussing the intersection of art and activism.

Negros with Guns: Rob Williams and Black Power Thursday, October 26, 12 p.m. Main Library, Koret Auditorium 100 Larkin St.

Rob Williams was an African-American living in Monroe, North Carolina in the 1950s and 1960s. Living with injustice and oppression, many African-Americans advocated a non-violent resistance. Williams took a different tack, urging the oppressed to take up arms.

 


Banned Books Week 2017: Political Engagement and Democracy

As Banned Books Week continues, we share recommended reading lists that promote the freedom to seek and express ideas. At UC Press, we believe that scholarship is a powerful tool for fostering a deeper understanding of our world to change how people, think, plan, and govern.

Below are titles that address society’s core challenges and serve as agents of engagement and democracy. #BannedBooksWeek #RightToRead #ReadUP

Ending September 30th, get a 30% discount on these selected titles below.

Exceptional America: What Divides Americans from the World and from Each Other by Mugambi Jouet

“Seeking to understand rather than condemn, Jouet offers a rich and revealing portrait of the America that produced President Donald J. Trump.” —Jacob S. Hacker, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies, Yale University

“Sheds fresh light on the peculiar and alarming state of U.S. politics today.”—Dorothy Roberts, Professor of Law and Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, and author of Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century.

 

From Fascism to Populism in History by Federico Finchelstein

“Timely, accessible, and essential reading. Federico Finchelstein expertly reminds us how vital history is for understanding the present and how important it is to look beyond our own borders to get come to grips with local phenomena.”  —Tanya Harmer, author of Allende’s Chile and the Inter-American Cold War

“An original, creative, and bold work that will be debated by scholars for decades to come.”—Carlos de la Torre, author of Populist Seduction in Latin America

 

A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things: A Guide to Capitalism, Nature, and the Future of the Planet by Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore

“As we come together to build a better world, this book could well become a defining framework to broaden and deepen our ambitions.”—Naomi Klein, author of No Is Not Enough and This Changes Everything

“[A] compelling interpretation of how we got to where we are now, and how we might go on to create a more just and sustainable civilization. It’s a vision you can put to use.”—Kim Stanley Robinson, author of the Mars trilogy

 

The Fifty-Year Rebellion: How the U.S. Political Crisis Began in Detroit by Scott Kurashige

“Scott Kurashige’s wonderful, important book teaches us to read neoliberal crisis and austerity from below, as a reaction to forces of liberation that came before and continue today.”—Michael Hardt, coauthor of Assembly

“Scott Kurashige’s work will introduce a new generation of scholars, activists, intellectuals, artists, and citizens to what many of us have said for a while—the story of the 20th and 21st centuries is the story of Detroit.”—Lester K. Spence, Associate Professor of Political Science and Africana Studies, Johns Hopkins University, and author of Knocking the Hustle: Against the Neoliberal Turn in Black Politics

 


Banned Books Week 2017: What Feminism Means

As part of Banned Books Week, we share a list of recommended titles that promote the freedom to seek and express ideas. UC Press is proud to publish esteemed feminist scholars and activists who argue for inclusivity and social justice in all forms, who advocate for feminism and the movement towards an equal society for all people, without discrimination.

During Banned Books Week (ending September 30), get a 30% discount on these selected titles on Feminism.

Below, enjoy some highlights from our list:

How All Politics Became Reproductive Politics: From Welfare Reform to Foreclosure to Trump
by Laura Briggs

“This book is a tour de force that highlights the failures of neoliberalism for many American families. With intensity and verve, Laura Briggs reveals the crisscrossing binds that constrain women, particularly women of color, queer women, and poor women.”—Alexandra Minna Stern, author of Eugenic Nation and Telling Genes

“Move over Sheryl Sandberg and Anne-Marie Slaughter. Here comes Laura Briggs, who shows how questions of care stand at the center of all politics. Briggs unmasks the racialized, classed, and gendered politics of this neoliberal moment with verve, sophistication, and vision.”—Eileen Boris, coauthor, Caring for America: Home Health Workers in the Shadow of the Welfare State

 

The Big Push: Exposing and Challenging the Persistence of Patriarchy
by Cynthia Enloe

“With Cynthia’s accessible and engaging style, The Big Push shines an important new light on contemporary and historical events.”—Sandra Whitworth, author of Men, Militarism and UN Peacekeeping

“Women and men who care about democracy and social justice need to read this book. Cynthia Enloe’s astute and far-sighted interpretation of ‘sustainable patriarchy’ is just what we need for the feminist struggles unfolding in the twenty-first century.”—Kathryn Kish Sklar, author of Women’s Rights Emerges within the Anti-Slavery Movement, 1830-1870

 

 

Radical Eroticism: Women, Art, and Sex in the 1960s
by Rachel Middleman

“With detailed discussions of the bold ways that heterosexual women artists foregrounded their sexuality as confrontational, critical, and political, Radical Eroticism makes an important contribution to the literature on Sixties art and adds to the revisions of its history that locate sex and gender as defining characteristics of the decade.”—David J. Getsy, Goldabelle McComb Finn Distinguished Professor of Art History, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

“A crucial resource for future studies of contemporary women’s erotic art and the sexual politics of erotic representations.”—Susan Richmond, Associate Professor of Art History, Georgia State University

 

Provocations: A Transnational Reader in the History of Feminist Thought
by Susan Bordo

Provocations is an ambitious, pioneering, interdisciplinary anthology that promises to disrupt hegemonic narratives of the complex histories of feminisms that permeate women’s studies classrooms in the U.S. academy. From the ancient world to the recent Arab Spring, Provocations engages some of the most compelling and contentious debates in the centuries old ‘woman question.’”—Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women’s Studies and Founding Director of the Women’s Research and Resource Center at Spelman College

 

 

Reproductive Justice: An Introduction
by Loretta Ross & Rickie Solinger

“Controlling reproduction and the bodies of women seems to be the first step in every hierarchy. That’s why reproductive justice—women having power over our own bodies—is the crucial first step toward any democracy, any human rights, and any justice.” —Gloria Steinem

“We need to know the history laid out in Reproductive Justice, because we need to not repeat the ugliness of the past. Our strategies need to be inclusive and intersectional.None of us are free until we’re all free.”—Cecile Richards, President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

 

 

Ronnie Gilbert: A Radical Life in Song
by Ronnie Gilbert with a foreword by Holly Near 

“Activism is just one of the threads winding through this title, along with music, theater, performance, politics, and the challenges of building a life outside of the 20th-century mainstream. . . . Yet it’s the music that shines the brightest in this memoir; Gilbert’s time with the Weavers and her creative partnership with Holly Near bookend a life no less remarkable for being remarkably nonlinear.”—Library Journal

“Gilbert’s memoir brings to life the frightening political climate of the times. . . . We are fortunate that Gilbert took the time to document her singular experiences as a committed activist and singer whose soaring contralto and “dangerous songs” both accompanied and animated the progressive movements of her time.”—San Francisco Chronicle


Banned Books Week 2017: Promoting Progressive Change

As part of Banned Books Week, occurring September 24 – 30, we’ll be sharing recommended reading lists that promote the freedom to seek and express ideas. At UC Press, we believe that scholarship is a powerful tool for fostering a deeper understanding of our world and changing how people think, plan, and govern. Our mission is to drive progressive change by seeking out and cultivating the brightest minds and giving them voice, reach, and impact.

During #BannedBooksWeek, get a 30% discount on these selected titles that promote progressive change in feminism, politics, Islam, and free speech. #BannedBooks

What’s your favorite UC Press book that you think should have made the list for Banned Books Week? Let us know in the comment section below.


Islamophobia, Close to Home

By Khaled A. Beydoun, author of American Islamophobia: Understanding the Roots and Rise of Fear

Muslim Americans were intimately familiar with Islamophobia well before it became a cognizable term plastered on protest banners and echoed by media pundits. For Muslims, Islamophobia was central to their experience as American citizens or residents. It was manifested by the “random” checks at airports, the incessant stares while walking down the street, the presumption that they don’t speak English at the check out line, and the backlash that descended onto their communities after a terror attack. These experiences, and others, formed the core of the Muslim American experience after the 9/11 terror attacks and, most recently, the rise of Donald Trump, but also characterized the lives for numerous Muslim communities well before these transformative moments.

On April 27, 1995, roughly one week after the domestic terror attack remembered as the “Oklahoma City Bombing” and years before the term “Islamophobia” existed, the phenomenon hit close to home. My family lived in Detroit, right outside the densely Arab and Muslim populated community in East Dearborn, widely regarded as the symbolic hub of Muslim America, and for hate mongers then and today, an easy target. One of my mother’s friends, Zeinab, a middle-aged Lebanese woman that wore the hijab (headscarf), was shopping at a grocery store on Dearborn’s (then predominantly white) west side. It was the evening, and as she was walking to her car in the dimly lit parking let, sensed footsteps tracking her own. As she stopped to unpack her cart and place her groceries in her car, two teens pounced on her.

“They weren’t trying to rob me, like I thought,” she recounted in Arabic, “but were trying to pull my headscarf off of my head, they didn’t try to take my purse.” The teens called her “stupid A-rab,” a racist slur for Arab, and told her “to get out of our country,” although her and her three children were citizens, and had made Michigan their home many years ago. Yet, their message was clear, and manifested a core baseline of the phenomenon we understand as Islamophobia today: that Islam was unassimilable with American values and identity, and Muslims were presumed to be foreign, subversive and terrorists. It did not matter that the culprit of the Oklahoma City Bombing was a white man, Timothy McVeigh, and that roughly 63% of mass shootings since 1982 were commit by white men. The terrorist stereotype eclipsed these statistics, and drove the violent backlash Zeinab endured in that grocery store parking lot and the frightening uptick in anti-Muslim bigotry unfolding in America today.

Source: Mother Jones’ Investigation: US Mass Shootings, 1982-2017 (6/14/2017)

And the law followed suit. The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) was enacted because of the Oklahoma City Bombing. But instead of grappling with the white separatist element that conspired to commit that horrific terror attack, it fixated on Islam. This, before 1995 and indeed well after it, is the very dynamic that not only embeds Islamophobia, but also advances it. Instead of dismantling or disavowing stereotypes about Islam or Muslims, the law, most potently through the War on Terror policy and strategy, endorses and advances it. Therefore, although Islamophobia is today a widely known term as a consequence of 9/11 and the Trump Era, it has long prevailed as a phenomenon and system deeply inscribed into the law. Muslims living in America know this quite well.


Khaled A. Beydoun is Associate Professor at University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. A critical race theorist and political commentator, his writing has been featured in top law journals, including the California Law Review, UCLA Law Review, and Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. He is also the 2017 winner of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination (ADC) Advocate of the Year Award.


Most Immigrants Are Women: Does the Trump Administration Want to Deport Them, or Just Keep Them Working for Low Wages?

By Laura Briggs, author of How All Politics Became Reproductive Politics: From Welfare Reform to Foreclosure to Trump

It’s always been unclear whether the goal of the Trump White House was to limit the number of undocumented immigrants in this country, or just to terrorize them and keep them as vulnerable, underpaid workforce, and the recent debate about DACA underscores that fact.

Our economy relies on immigrant labor, and needs it to be cheap—and not just for the reasons most people think. The majority of immigrants to the United States, and nearly half the undocumented population are women, and many of them are doing household labor—cleaning, caring for children, elders, and others who cannot care for themselves. They’re not doing it so the rest of us can have more down time—far from it. On average, everybody is working more. As real wages have declined, the middle class has hung on by throwing more adults into the labor force, mostly women. In 1960, 20 percent of mothers worked. Today, 70 percent of U.S. children live in households where all the adults are employed. So who’s doing the household work? Business certainly has not picked up the tab; workers in the U.S. aren’t even guaranteed sick days, never mind childcare. We haven’t raised taxes for government to pay for it, either. Indeed, the most revealing moments in the debate over the Affordable Care Act repeal were when Republicans admitted that to get Medicaid costs down, sick elders needed to get out of nursing homes and go back to living with their families (read: daughters—Paul Ryan sure wasn’t planning to go part-time to care for his mother.)

So for the whole economic calculus to work—in which women must work, but get paid less than men (to the benefit of their employers), and we don’t raise taxes to pay for government programs, something had to give. This was the brilliance of the 1990s crackdown on undocumented immigrants: it ensured that there a class of women who could be paid even less than women who were citizens, at exactly the moment when the economy most needed them. During the Clinton administration, three key things happened. Walmart became the largest single employer in the country, owing much of their “efficiency” to women’s low wages. The controversy over Zöe Baird’s nomination as attorney general—“Nannygate”—launched a nationwide enforcement crackdown on immigrants without papers, beginning with the couple that Baird was sponsoring for green cards, Lillian and Victor Cordero. And the number of middle class households hiring nannies and housekeepers began to grow exponentially.

Immigration enforcement of the sort the U.S. has been doing since then doesn’t necessarily mean all undocumented immigrants get deported. It may just make them vulnerable, trapping people in exploitative jobs. One mother of triplets told the New York Times why she wanted to hire someone who was undocumented: “I want someone who cannot leave the country… who doesn’t know anyone in New York, who basically does not have a life. I want someone who is completely dependent on me.” While some households just wanted to employ someone who was reliable and “affordable,” others were abusive and even violent. A 2012 study of household workers in fourteen cities found abysmal working conditions, with many reporting sexual harassment, abuse, and assault. Among live-in nannies, many did not even have their own bed; they were expected to sleep with the children in their care. There was also widespread wage theft, with 67% earning less than minimum wage. While race was also a factor, the single best predictor of how much people got paid was immigration status, with undocumented workers earning the least.

There’s a surprisingly clear case to be made that the Trump administration, for all its sound and fury, is not terribly interested in deporting large numbers of people. It’s not only Donald Trump’s personal history of hiring undocumented workers—the fact that Trump Tower was built by people without papers and that his modeling agency relied on them—it’s also what’s happened since he took office. For one thing, when his transition team discovered that his pick for Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, had hired an undocumented household worker—the exact thing Zöe Baird went down for—they didn’t see it as disqualifying. Rather, they had Ross withhold the information until the last minute, in his tightly controlled confirmation hearing. Apparently, the administration was fine with having key positions held by people who were in favor of illegal immigration—at Commerce, at Labor (if they hadn’t been bested by Andrew Pudzer’s critics), and in the Oval Office itself.

Most significantly, the number of deportations under Trump has actually declined, and is on track to be lower than during any year of Obama’s presidency. Arrests and detentions have increased, to be sure. While Obama, the careful lawyer, restricted the actions of ICE to arrest and detain those most likely to be deported, the Trump administration has encouraged aggressive policing, creating terror, and a huge backlog of cases awaiting a hearing in immigration court. “When you go out and you arrest a whole bunch of people willy-nilly [an immigration judge] has got to fill his docket time hearing those arguments,” John Sandweg, acting director of ICE in 2013-14, told Politico. While it’s possible that more judges would mean more deportations, many of the people picked up are later released. In other words, it’s not yet clear whether this is a campaign to make immigrants afraid, or deport them.

This raises a question about all the back and forth about DACA: is the goal really to deport young people, or is it just to raise the flag that the administration is ambivalent about immigrants getting an education and a work permit, instead of remaining part of a permanent underclass of low-paid, illegal workers. One thing is clear: U.S. immigration policy has produced the largest exploitable, deterritorialized labor force since slavery times. Many of them are women, doing “women’s work.” Any effort at immigration reform—whether for the 1 million Dreamers or the estimated 10 million other undocumented immigrants—will have to take account of household and care work. Someone still has to watch the kids.


Laura Briggs is chair and professor of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the author of How All Politics Became Reproductive Politics: From Welfare Reform to Foreclosure to TrumphereRead the first chapter .

Watch Laura discuss her book’s thesis, economics, race, and family on last Sunday’s episode of The Open Mind on PBS.