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Great reading from the DU community

Behind bars: When immigrants are incarcerated   

With his latest book, “Migrating to Prison: America’s Obsession With Locking Up Immigrants” (The New Press, 2019), University of Denver law professor César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández makes a moral and legal case for abolishing immigration prisons and for rethinking the country’s policies regarding migration.

In doing so, García Hernández — who blogs on immigration issues at — draws not just on his expertise as an immigration lawyer, but also on his skill for storytelling and his background as the son of a migrant. His path to U.S. citizenship, he explains, was traversed in utero. And for all intents and purposes, he argues, that path is largely what separates him — not to mention many other Americans — from the individual seeking asylum at the border and from the inmate incarcerated in a detention center. 

Given its timely and urgent topic, “Migrating to Prison” is sure to provoke both dissent and accord. But regardless of where readers fall on that spectrum, they are likely to finish the book with a better understanding of how the immigrant detention industry has evolved over the years. 

A poetic record of light

Long-listed for the 2019 National Book Awards, “Variations on Dawn and Dusk” (Omnidawn, 2019), by poet and DU alumnus Dan Beachy-Quick, owes its existence to another work of imagination: a site-specific “architectural intervention” by installation artist Robert Irwin. Since its 2016 debut in Marfa, Texas, the installation has captivated connoisseurs of the art world’s Light and Space Movement. 

Throughout his latest volume, Beachy-Quick (BA ’95) follows the sun as it illuminates the structure’s angles, surfaces and subtleties. As the book’s publisher explains, “the poems in this collection are constructed with an architectural framework. Rhythmic procedures inversely link the first and last words of the first and last lines of each poem and tie the number of lines to the number of syllables in the first line. These structures form a pattern, a thoughtful consistency through which we are invited to move and meditate with each variation of light.”

A well-regarded poet and essayist, Beachy-Quick has six volumes of poetry to his credit, as well as a collection of meditations, fragments and poems titled “Of Silence and Song.” He serves on the English department faculty at Colorado State University. 

Anticipating progress in the Middle East   

Micheline Ishay, a distinguished professor at DU’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies, has seen firsthand the sectarian conflict, political repression, economic instability and gender dynamics that undermine human rights protections in the Middle East. Just as the Arab Spring was taking off, she was at Khalifa University in the United Arab Emirates as a visiting professor teaching the first undergraduate human rights course ever offered in the Persian Gulf region. 

During that time, Ishay found much to trouble her, but also much to fuel her optimism. Although tempered by a sober assessment of everyday realities, that optimism takes center stage in “The Levant Express: The Arab Uprisings, Human Rights, and the Future of the Middle East” (Yale University Press, 2019). The express in question is powered by what she calls a “human rights engine” and a persisting desire for freedom. 

There are many economic, political and social signs that offer Ishay hope, among them “a simmering feminist consciousness” that could reinvigorate the region’s dormant democracy movements. She urges reformers to adopt Franklin Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms—freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear. Just as important, she calls on them to add a fifth to the list: freedom from sexual discrimination. Only then, she argues, will the region be able to harness its full potential.

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