Russell Shorto

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Monthly Archives: April 2011

The Far Right’s Far Left

Friday, April 29, 2011

My profile of Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far right National Front party, is in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine.  The fascinating thing about Le Pen’s appeal (she beats Sarkozy in recent polls) is that it is largely in spite of her father’s longtime role as the party’s leader.  Like others of the new breed of far right leaders in Europe, she is mixing frank right-wing anti-immigrant policies with a very left-wing social agenda, which includes a critique of capitalism and a call for a return to state regulations.

Facebooking Deportation

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Following on my immigration story/post, someone pointed me to a movement in the U.S. to social-media-ize illegal immigrants facing imminent deportation.  The post is from Juan E. Gastelum, Master of Science student at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism: Walter Lara’s first tweet back in 2009 started with the words “I’m being deported.” Two years later, he lives in Miami, works legally, has a driver’s license and pays in-state tuition at Miami Dade College. He is one of a few dozen young, undocumented immigrants who have avoided deportation and are now enjoying the benefits — even if only temporary — of being in the United States legally as a result of campaigns in which social media played a crucial role. Social media platforms provide the means by which these youths, who call themselves Dreamers, can find each other without travelling or exposing their status. They appeal to supporters nationwide and petition en masse for extensions on deportation dates. They help garner the attention of politicians, lawyers and advocacy groups. And they get Dreamers’ stories out into the public sphere when the attention of the mass media is elsewhere.

The Nanny and her Sister

Monday, April 25, 2011

Not long ago my son’s Moroccan-born gastouder (daycare provider) asked if I would sign an immigration document in support of her sister, who wanted to come to Amsterdam to visit. I was confused at first: I thought one was required to get such statements of support for people who intended to emigrate, not who merely wanted to visit family. I subsequently learned that it is necessary in the Netherlands for people from certain countries to file extensive applications, including having residents vouch for them, even if all they want to do is see the canals and tulips. I signed the form. Then a few weeks later I heard that the sister’s application had been denied. The reason given: she was “onbetrouwbaar”–untrustworthy. When my son’s gastouder asked, through an immigration lawyer, for clarification, she was told that due to “ties” in the country, it was feared that the sister might stay in the Netherlands. Our gastouder and her family are legal, upstanding residents of the Netherlands. She is registered in her work; her husband drives a city bus; they have two young children and they speak Dutch at home. They are, as we say in America, “playing by the rules.” Yet … Continue reading