Reproduction, Eugenics and Immigration Law


I’ve posted a new working paper on SSRN — Reproduction, Eugenics and Immigration Law.


Policies designed to exclude the children of unwanted immigrants from citizenship have insidious roots in the eugenics movement. Today’s anti-immigrant agenda is no different than the one that animated the eugenicists into enacting the restrictive 1924 legislation. Nor is there a difference in the latent racism inherent in such views. While immigration restrictionists may not subscribe to eugenics theory, they fear immigrants and their descendants on the same basis as eugenicists in the past, namely that the children of immigrants deemed undesirable are inherently less American, unassimilable and could lead to the demise of the white majority.

The goals of the eugenics movement of yesteryears are carried out by behaviors that are much more retrograde than sterilization. These behaviors include maintaining restrictive immigration laws, keeping national origin quotas, targeting undocumented immigrants through law enforcement efforts, and viewing immigrants as a public health problem that needs to be purged

It was recently listed on SSRN’s Top Ten download list for: PRN: Discrimination, Oppression, Coercion, Consent to Risk or Harm, Violence (Topic) and Reproductive Justice, Law & Policy eJournal, as well as the PSN: Politics of Immigration (Topic).

However, it needs quite a bit of work, especially with regards to citations. I also want to incorporate the new study by the Center for New Community,  “The Quinacrine Report: Sterilization, Modern-Day Eugenics, and the Anti-Immigrant Movement,” which details the connections between the Tanton network and Quinacrine, a drug used in coercive sterilization.

Comments and suggestions welcome.


So, in the middle of law school exams, I’ll be speaking at the TEDxAdamsMorganWomen event celebrating both women and the wonderful Adams Morgan community at the Sitar Center all happening this Saturday (December 1st!) from 1-6pm.

If you are interested in attending and haven’t purchased your tickets yet – the time is now! Tickets are $35 but will bump up to $50 on Friday.

And if you can’t join the event, but you are free Saturday evening? Come and join us for our VIP reception and after-party at Perry’sTickets are only $30 and it is a great opportunity to network, learn more about TEDx events, get to meet the speakers, and celebrate Adams Morgan on the (enclosed) rooftop overlooking this wonderful community.

Besides me, here is the list of fantastic presenters –

And, the arts program we have in store:

  • Cecilia Cackley, As a puppeteer, she has worked with GALA Hispanic Theatre, the O’Neill Puppetry Festival, the Avignon Off and the Source Theater Festival.
  • Elizabeth Ashe, As an artist and poet, her work explores the domestic and public spaces we remember, save, construct and leave behind.
  • Madeleine Cutrona– As an artist, Madeleine uses installation and performance to explore who has the power to make decisions in society.
  • Angela Ingram, an Afro-Brazilian dancer, is trained in several techniques including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Fred Benjamin, Frank Hatchet, Luigi Style of Jazz, Cecchetti style of Ballet as well as Tap and Hawaiian.

In addition, we’ll be livestreaming from TEDxWomen (this is the international event taking place the same day) featuring a session exploring the space between disruption and moving forward. The speakers will be:

  • Veteran ABC journalist Bob Woodruff and his wifeLee Woodruff on starting over after a traumatic brain injury
  • Conflict zone reporter Janine di Giovanni on the human cost of war
  • Charlotte Beers former CEO of Ogilvy & Mather as well as former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs
  • Music prodigy Lourds Lane on re-creating yourself as the superhero of your own design
I hope you can join us!

Facing Mirrors

Sometimes you have to be forced to leave your homeland in order to appreciate it more.

I went to see Facing Mirrors, playing at National Geographic Grosvenor Auditorium as part of the All Roads Film Festival. It’s one of the better films I have seen in the past few years, and certainly among the best about a transgender person. But it wasn’t just about being transgender. The two protagonists — Rana and Adineh/Eddie — created the perfect foil, with shades of gray adding complexity to both the characters and the narration. And it’s hard to believe that the story idea was conceived in less than two hours:

Rana and Adineh, two women of opposite background and social class are accidentally brought together to share a journey. Rana, inexperienced, religious and bound by traditions, is forced to drive a cab in order to survive financially. Adineh, wealthy yet rebellious, has escaped from her home. In the middle of the way, Rana realizes that her passenger is a transsexual who is planning on having an operation. For Rana, comprehending and accepting such reality is close to impossible and equal to surpassing all she believes in and traditions she values.

When the straight cisgender woman hits the transgender protagonist in a moment of hysteria and panic, she later explains her reaction as “I thought you were a man and tricked me.” I immediately thought about my own mother who is very much like Rana, working dangerous jobs to make a living for her family contrary to the gender roles she subscribes to, and my heart went out to her despite her transphobic reaction. Throughout the movie, her husband is in prison, but Rana is the one who feels imprisoned by her circumstances. And as a woman violating gender roles to provide for her family, she’s concerned about her safety as much as the transgender protagonist who also feels unsafe, but safety for him requires leaving his family and homeland. At the end, neither one of them is particularly happy even as they get what they want all along. And we are left contemplating the meaning of happiness as it pertains to us.

All the actors did a marvelous job but Shayesteh Irani of Offside fame, was especially  brilliant as the transgender protagonist. She looks a bit like Sheetal Sheth, which means I spent most of the movie crushing over a male character, played by a cisgender woman. I need to deconstruct that at a later time. It’s probably as simple as the fact that I love androgynous and butch all women.

Watch the movie if you get an opportunity. It is in Farsi, subtitled in English.


We have a right to be angry when the communities we build that are supposed to be the model for a better, more just world harbor the same kinds of antiqueer, antiwoman, racist violence that pervades society.

Recommended reading for this week is Why Misogynists Make Great Informants: How Gender Violence on the Left Enables State Violence in Radical Movements. Fellow badass organizer, Flavia Isabel, sent me the link and many parts of it resonated with me, especially this bit:

We might think of these misogynists as inadvertent agents of the state. Regardless of whether they are actually informants or not, the work that they do supports the state’s ongoing campaign of terror against social movements and the people who create them. When queer organizers are humiliated and their political struggles sidelined, that is part of an ongoing state project of violence against radicals. When women are knowingly given STIs, physically abused, dismissed in meetings, pushed aside, and forced out of radical organizing spaces while our allies defend known misogynists, organizers collude in the state’s efforts to destroy us. The state has already understood a fact that the Left has struggled to accept: misogynists make great informants. Before or regardless of whether they are ever recruited by the state to disrupt a movement or destabilize an organization, they’ve likely become well versed in practices of disruptive behavior. They require almost no training and can start the work immediately. What’s more paralyzing to our work than when women and/or queer folks leave our movements because they have been repeatedly lied to, humiliated, physically/verbally/emotionally/sexually abused?

I cannot begin to recount the number of spaces I have either left or been pushed out of due to gender violence: organizations I have built, spaces I have created, and even my own home. It’s the ten-year anniversary of the DREAM Act and I think rather than signing a petition to build the list-serve of an anti-union corporate top-down organization, people in the “movement” should reflect and critique how their own behavior enables state violence on radicals.

Of course, being a queer woman of color doesn’t mean I cannot contribute to gender violence. Thanks to the pervading forces of misogyny, there have been times that I have been played and ended up silencing the voices of other women in our spaces to the point of forcing them out. I am becoming more mindful of how people appropriate my body, use my identity to their benefit, and how my presence is used to check off certain boxes. And while I have become more aware of different types of violence and more vocal about confronting them, I find myself characteristically excluded from all sorts of spaces where I should be invited. I’ve made peace with this — my body, soul and mind do not need any more violence than I get from people and the state on a daily basis. And I’m happier and healthier than ever before.

I think one of the lessons to draw from this critique is that people should call out racism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism and other forms of discrimination when they see it, regardless of the consequences and repercussions. It doesn’t matter if it is a certain radical Asian-American labor organizer or a certain so-called white ally steeped in racial and gender violence. If they are feeding misogyny, they need to be called out, confronted and told to step-off to the side till they can contribute in ways that don’t do violence to us and our bodies.


I hate filling out forms. I don’t ever know what box to check

  • U.S. Citizen
  • Permanent Resident
  • Other

I am committing a crime if I pick U.S. citizen even though I should technically be one given I’ve four generations of them in my family. I would pick “permanent resident” but don’t have a green card. Picking “Other” doesn’t tell you that I’m American or that I have spent half of my life here. I don’t have my foot planted firmly anywhere. I feel displaced. I’m like a trans-migrant and that is completely fine. But checking a box won’t tell you all that.

The racial/ethnic box is even more annoying:

  • Asian-American
  • Pacific Islander / Native Hawaiian

I usually select ‘Other’ or draw my own box and write in “Fiji-Indian.” I definitely don’t identify as Asian-American for multiple reasons. I do embrace Pacific Islander for political purposes but I’m pretty sure the people making the boxes mean someone indigenous to the islands and five generations in Fiji still does not make me indigenous. Funnily, five generations in America makes you a “native” if you are white.

The sex/gender boxes annoy me the most. Virgin America tends to revert back to identifying me as a male as do most of the people who send me hate-ful emails. I’m not sure if that is meant to be a slur.

  • Male
  • Female

I’m gay in Fiji, transgender in parts of Washington D.C., a genderfuck in San Francisco, a woman loving woman on some days and nights, asexual on others with a straight male satirical misogynist gaze at times, submissive, dominant and everything in-between in bed, and perpetually discovering new repressed sexualities within myself. I like my blue tie and boxers but I love my lacey pink underwear. I just find queer to be an easy label. What exactly am I supposed to select?

/to be continued/