Read, Watch, Listen: Human Rights Today

February 26, 2021

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Compiled by the Student Advisory Council at the Center for Human Rights, Gender and Migration

Written by Grace Day and Lacy Broemel

Are you interested in learning more about migration, human rights, and gender issues around the globe? Members of the Student Advisory Council at the Center for Human Rights, Gender and Migration have compiled a list of books, movies, TV shows, and podcasts to share.

These compelling stories and perspectives are for anyone who wants to learn more about current human rights issues, hear the stories of migrants, or understand how policy impacts the lives of migrants in the United States and around the world. This list, organized by sub-topic, includes documentaries, memoirs, comedy, poetry, journalism, and policy discussions.

Items on this list were chosen by students from a variety of academic disciplines, including social work, public health, law, and literature. These were valuable tools for expanding their understanding of asylum, border policy, immigrant experiences in the U.S. (documented and undocumented), global migration, human rights, and gender. They believe that education can be a first step to engaging in policy and practice that can improve responses to human rights abuses.

Happy reading, watching, and listening!

Asylum seekers and Refugees in the U.S.

The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After by Clemantine Wamariya

In this memoir, Wamariva tells of her journey fleeing Rwanda in 1994, moving to surrounding countries, her experiences in refugee camps and her eventual resettlement in the United States.

The Ungrateful Refugee: What Immigrants Never Tell You by Dina Nayeri

Nayeri tells her story of being a refugee after fleeing Iran, alongside other stories of refugees and asylum seekers, unearthing the nuances and complicated truths attached to these experiences.

Asylum: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

John Oliver looks at the Trump administration’s asylum policies and the consequences for asylum seekers at the border and beyond.

Patriot Act with Hassan Minhaj (Netflix-Season 1: “Immigration Enforcement” episode 6 and Season 5: “Trump’s Worst Policy: Killing Asylum” episode 2)

Through political comedy, Minhaj looks at the immigration policies of the Trump administration. Episode 6 (Season 1) focuses on I.C.E. and immigration enforcement, and episode 2 (Season 5) examines the destruction of the U.S. asylum system.

Hometown podcast

Hometown is produced by the Episcopal Migration Ministries and focuses on refugee resettlement. The podcast covers the histories of refugees’ home countries, interviews with resettled refugees, and updates on changing U.S. refugee policy.

Immigrant Experiences in the U.S.

Borderless Magazine

Borderless Magazine NFP is produced by a nonprofit news outlet that has a mission to humanize stories of immigration (produced in English and Spanish).

Sunnyside

A one season comedy series focused on a former New York City councilman who is hired to help a group of immigrants as they attempt to gain citizenship. A comedic look at the frustration and complications that arise from the immigration system.

Minari

A comedy-drama written and directed by Lee Isaac Chung, this semi-autobiographical film follows a Korean-American family as they move to an Arkansas farm. Amidst the challenges of this new life in the strange and rugged Ozarks, they discover the undeniable resilience of family and what really makes a home.

Immigrantly: Cross-Cultural Conversations

This weekly podcast hosts a large variety of guests who come from diverse immigrant experiences to share their perspectives on current issues.

Tempest Tossed podcast

Host Alex Aleinikoff discusses immigration-related issues and policies with his guests.

Undocumented Stories

Children of the Land by Marcelo Hernández Castillo

This memoir tells the story of Hernández Castillo’s family’s journey from Mexico to the United States and their interactions with the U.S. immigration system while being undocumented.

Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen by Jose Antonio Vargas

Vargas shares his story of living undocumented in the United States and the complicated identity that emerged for him after learning of his immigration status at age 16. Vargas’s story is also the center of a documentary mentioned in the watch section of this subtopic.

Intergalactic Travels: poems from a fugitive alien by Alan Pelaez Lopez

This collection is a book of poems centered on being undocumented in the United States, using creative forms that include collages, photos, immigration documents, and emails.

Watch

Documented: A Film by an Undocumented American

This is a documentary about Jose Antonio Vargas’ life as an undocumented person in the United States who is also a Pulitzer prize winning journalist for the Washington Post.

Immigrant Voices of America

This eight-part documentary series focuses on different immigrant groups and their statuses in the United States.

Code Switch: The Undocumented Americas

Karla Cornejo Villavicencio shares her experiences of being undocumented and a DACA recipient. She explains her refusal to be representative of the American Dream and instead chooses to tell the broader stories of undocumented immigrants.

U.S. Enforcement and Border Policy

Here We Are: American Dreams, American Nightmares by Aarti Namdev Shahani

Shahani writes a memoir centered on her relationship with her father after immigrating to the United States from India. As her father becomes caught up in a drug cartel, the book looks at the interaction between the criminal justice system and immigration in the United States, exploring the devastating consequences of exploitation for families navigating this terrain.

Tell Me How it Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions by Valeria Luiselli

A narrative based on Luiselli’s experience as an interpreter for immigrant children from Latin America facing deportation hearings in the United States. The book is structured around the forty questions that are asked in these hearings.

Watch

Immigration Nation (Netflix)

Immigration Nation is a documentary series that examines the internal operations occurring in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Homeland Insecurity

A podcast produced by RAICES that looks at the history of DHS following 9/11 and its impact on U.S. immigration policy and enforcement.

Radiolab: Border Trilogy

Radiolab produced a three-part series examining the U.S. border policy of pushing migrants towards the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, leading to thousands of deaths.

The featured anthropologist, Jason De León, has developed a participatory exhibition called Hostile Terrain 94 that is composed of 3,200 handwritten toe tags that represent the migrant deaths in the Sonoran Desert. WashU is currently hosting the exhibition. To learn more, visit: https://sites.wustl.edu/hostileterrain/.

This American Life: The Out Crowd

An episode looking at the reality of President Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, airing originally in fall 2019.

Human Rights and Gender

to love and mourn in the age of displacement by Alan Pelaez Lopez

In this collection of poems, Pelaez Lopez looks at their intersectionality of being Black, Indigenous, and non-binary through the lens of displacement.

Watch

LGBT Asylum: Three Stories

Immigration Equality’s LGBT Asylum Program produced a short video telling the stories of three individuals who faced persecution based on their sexual orientation or gender identity and sought asylum in the United States.

The Hum: A Human Rights Podcast

A series of interviews with those who have experienced human rights abuses. Topics include sexual assault, discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation, armed conflict, and the criminal justice system.

Migration Around the World

The Road from Raqqa: A Story of Brotherhood, Borders, and Belonging by Jordan Rotter Conn

A non-fiction narrative focused on two brothers both growing up in Raqqa, Syria, with one choosing to move to the United States and the other staying in Syria as conflict grows.

Watch

Journey to Europe: Tales of Liberians and other African Migrants in Niger

A documentary following Liberian migrants as they arrive in Niger and attempt to travel to Europe.

The Land Between

An award-winning film looking at the lives of sub-Saharan African migrants living in Northern Morocco as many try to cross the border to Europe.

This American Life: Are We There Yet?

This two-part episode features interviews with people living in refugee camps in Greece during the height of the refugee crisis in Europe in 2016.