Category Archives: Uncategorized

Immigrants Rights Activism in Increasingly Hostile Times

The place of immigrants in the U.S. has always been fraught, with immigrants simultaneously serving as inspiring affirmations of the American dream and as scapegoats for an endless list of social ills. But since Trump’s election in 2016, hostility toward immigrants has reached a level unseen in recent years. From families being separated at the border to the “Muslim ban” to proposals to eliminate the constitutional guarantee of birthright citizenship, immigrants are facing increased hostility in their everyday interactions and heightened threats due to anti-immigrant government policies. Along with these developments, immigrants and their allies are mobilizing and responding to threats in innovative ways. This dialogue brings together scholars and activists to ask what immigrant rights activism looks like in this moment, how it is changing, and what it can teach us about activism in times of increasing threats.

This month, we have a great assortment of essays. Thanks to our wonderful group of contributors on this topic:

Editors in Chief,
Grace Yukich, David Ortiz, Rory McVeigh, Guillermo Trejo

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The Central American “Caravan” as a Political Act

By Cecilia Menjívar

News media up to the midterm elections were saturated with images of Central American immigrants traveling north in “caravans,” with images of an impending “invasion” of criminals or terrorists who would threaten the safety and security of most Americans. In the midst of the panic, the Department of Homeland Security even issued a fact sheet about the caravan that listed concerns about criminals traveling north, asserting that there were 270 individuals with criminal histories along the caravan route. The U.S. President would regularly announce to a public already primed to fear crime and criminals filtering through the southern border that the invaders needed to be contained. The administration’s response was Operation Faithful Patriot, comprised of the deployment of up to 15,000 active-duty military troops to Texas, Arizona, and California. And even though the broadcasting of such alarmist declarations decreased dramatically immediately after the midterms, the Commander in Chief did order 5,600 American troops to be deployed to the border, where they will remain waiting for the “caravan” to arrive. Authorities have used tear gas on the migrants who have tried to set foot on U.S. soil to seek asylum.

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The (Re)emergence of Nativist Mobilization along the U.S.-Mexico Border

By Matthew Ward

With much of the national media attention directed at the Trump administration’s (1) increasingly restrictionist policy measures, such as: the travel ban from predominately Muslim countries, family separation, and the potential denial of birthright citizenship, (2) it’s xenophobic and racist campaign advertisements, and (3) it’s punitive use of ICE, which recently set records in both deportations and detainments (see here), one might be forgiven for overlooking the relatively quiet resurgence of grassroots nativist mobilization occurring along the U.S.-Mexico border. Since Trump’s election, national news outlets like the Washington Post (see article here) and local outlets like the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson (see article here) have documented the return of armed citizen patrol groups to the U.S.-Mexico border. Proximately spurred by the Trump administration’s portrayal of migrant caravans as an invasion, citizen patrol groups feel a renewed sense of urgency and purpose.

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Fighting for Immigrant Rights in the Time of Trump

By Chris Zepeda-Millán

In 2015 Donald Trump sent shockwaves throughout the Latino and immigrant community when he launched his presidential campaign by calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. Since entering the Oval Office, Trump has continued his attacks by issuing multiple anti-immigrant executive actions, promising to build a wall on our southern border, pardoning a sheriff criminally convicted of racially profiling Latinos, ramped up immigrant detention, attempted to end DACA and, most recently, sought to ban thousands of Central Americans from legally applying for asylum. Accordingly, Donald Trump is arguably the most anti-Latino U.S. president in contemporary American history. Given that his assaults against Latino immigrants—and by extension the larger Latino community—show no signs of abating, in this blog post I reflect upon research I recently co-authored (with Sophia Wallace of the University of Washington) on how the U.S. immigrant rights movement initially responded to the Trump Administration.

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Informing Activists: “What responses should I expect from adults when I get involved in activism?”

Jessica Taft:

“What responses should I expect from adults when I get involved in activism?”


Gordon, Hava R., and Jessica K. Taft. 2011. “Rethinking youth political socialization: Teenage activists talk back.” Youth & Society (43)4: 1499-1527.


Earl, Jennifer, Thomas V. Maher, and Thomas Elliott. 2017. “Youth, activism, and social movements.” Sociology Compass (11)4.


Terriquez, Veronica. 2015. “Intersectional mobilization, social movement spillover, and queer youth leadership in the immigrant rights movement.” Social Problems 62.3: 343-362.

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Allies in a Dangerous Time

By Amanda Pullum

The enemy of my enemy, as the saying goes, is my friend. While we should probably be skeptical of this attitude toward friendship, it can help us understand why activists sometimes form short-term–or even seemingly paradoxical–alliances during times of threat.

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Youth, Social Movements & Activism Syllabus

Youth, Social Movements, and Activism Syllabus

This course provides an undergraduate level introduction to the study of youth political socialization and political activism. Young people are the backbone of most social movements from the Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam War movements to more contemporary examples like Black Lives Matter, #Occupy, and the anti-gun violence movement. The first half of the course presents an overview of theories of youth political socialization, political participation, and their role in social movements. The course specifically explores concerns about the state of youth political participation and the realities of participation, theories regarding how youth are socialized to participate in politics (and the impediments to participation), the history of youth in social movements (specifically why youth and college campuses are so important). The second half builds on this structure to review areas where youth are bringing new energy to political participation. The syllabus includes discussion in how youth have updated tactics, continue to redefine what counts as political, and incorporate new (intersectionality) and old (economic inequality) concerns into movements. The course is built around a midterm and final exam, as well as a research paper on a youth-oriented social movement that is broken up into several smaller “proposals” throughout the semester. Students are also assessed on their participation in class discussion over the substantive issues. The course serves as a point of connection between courses on youth and society, political sociology, political communication, and social movements.


The syllabus with usage notes and learning outcomes are available on the TRAILS website.

An un-gated link to Youth & Activism syllabus is available here.

Additional material are available here.

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