Authored by Linda Tyler

Transnational South Asian Politics in the United States

The majority of South Asian immigrants consider the minority model proposed by policymakers in recent years to be unable to resolve many pressing issues of the day including poverty, violence, and racial discrimination. Therefore, migrants have developed new initiatives that will promote their rights. The emphasis is placed on mobility, not the acquisition of citizenship. It will help to perceive these individuals first of all as migrants, not future citizens satisfying their primary demands. The current paper seeks to review the book Unruly Immigrants: Rights, Activism, and Transnational South Asian Politics in the United States by Monisha Das Gupta, who draws particular attention to the ideas developed by the South Asian organizations of the southeastern USA trying to ensure respect for immigrants’ rights without granting citizenship and other privileges. In the book that was written in 2006, Gupta not only superficially examines the South Asian organizations, but also highlights their appearance and development as the independent units, interaction with policymakers, and controversies emerged due to gender and class identities. The author pays particular attention to the way female organizations respond to domestic violence that significantly affects women in immigration. In my opinion, Gupta is highly concerned with the fact that the culture and identity of South Asians are marginalized by mainstream communities in both the USA and Asia. Besides the active feminist campaign, the author highlights the attempts of labor groups to ensure justice for individuals working in various spheres of life. Gupta also expresses her dissatisfaction with the policy that involves the inhumane exploitation of cheap labor. According to the book Deflecting Immigration: Networks, Markets, and Regulation in Los Angeles by Ivan Light, “The engagement of low-skilled immigrants and the provision of a paltry fee for their services mean the toleration of production under the illegal conditions, including extremely low wages and inferior working conditions”. In my opinion, the drawbacks of the state policy and activity are evident and, therefore, through the joint efforts, the nationwide social movement seeks to prove that citizenship is an essential basis for making human rights claims. In his book Understanding Social Citizenship: Themes and Perspectives for Policy and Practice, Peter Dwyer views political rights as “the first generation rights, which are residual in nature; they form the legal equality and refer to the law as the core of the liberal tradition”. The recognition and protection of civil rights are crucial in ensuring freedom and successful functioning of the market economy taking into account the concept of democratic values. In her comprehensive account, Gupta analyzes the protection and violation of immigrants’ rights. Diane Sainsbury, the author of the book Welfare States and Immigrant Rights: The Politics of Inclusion and Exclusion,states, “Migrants can be directly involved in formulating policies only by granting them rights”. The organizations examined in the book highlight rights first of all of the immigrants, not full-fledged members of society, thus criticizing the exploitation unleashed in globalization. I think that Gupta challenges the prevailing opinion that the demand for recognition and acceptance should be accompanied by granting full citizenship. The author has employed ethnography and historical archival research to track the long period of immigrants’ struggle for their rights in a comprehensive and clear manner. I consider the methodology chosen by Gupta has only the strengths as this approach to research allows readers to thoroughly observe and examine real things that occurred in the natural habitat. The inclusion of historical archival research is useful as readers can learn many interesting facts, accomplish research goals, and achieve good study results. I believe that the activists struggle with the state and rulers as the major participants to determine immigrants’ rights. However, the protection of fundamental rights has nothing to do with the mandatory provision of citizenship. According to the book Sociology as a Life or Death Issue by Robert Brym, “The rights of people to protection under the law are embodied in the concept of citizenship”. The national law specifies that regardless of their status individuals can rely on the protection of their rights even without citizenship. I think that most of the immigrants focus on mobility in regard to the privileges and liberties paying minor attention to legal aspects and rootedness. In The Breakthrough: Human Rights in the 1970s, Jan Eckel and Samuel Moyn have identified the two foundational beliefs of citizenship. The first one is that that the nation-state acts as a guarantor of rights that fulfills particular duties, and the second one is the universal subject of citizenship is challenged through the recognition of experiences and positions in granting the protections. In my opinion, Unruly Immigrants: Rights, Activism, and Transnational South Asian Politics in the United States brilliantly examines challenges facing recent immigrants in regard to their adaptation to the neo-liberal political order in the USA. Due to globalization, there is a great necessity to demand and safeguard transnational migrants’ rights to avoid inequality and prejudice. I believe that most of the immigrants do not seek immediate inclusive citizenship; they just want to be recognized and safe in the alien culture, get a good job as well as freedom of movement. The book has helped me to gain new insights into how U.S.-Asia relations shape Asian American experiences and how Asian Americans are engaged in U.S.-Asia relations. The interaction between the two sides is evident due to the growing political awareness of the issues facing South Asian immigrants, who have been long denied full citizenship rights in the USA. The book’s argument that immigrants’ rights should be respected without granting citizenship and other privileges is convincing. It has changed my view on immigration issues, and I believe that the state authorities should protect any person regardless of his/her gender, race, and status in the foreign country and help him/her to become a full-fledged member of the modern society. I think that most of the theoretical issues raised by Gupta should be examined from the perspective of community justice. The denaturalization of such aspects and principles as race and gender help to organize power relations in the society in a proper manner. The author urges to examine the issue of citizenship and national borders from the perspective of the structure of power. To summarize, the ongoing struggle documented in the book Unruly Immigrants: Rights, Activism, and Transnational South Asian Politics in the United States occurs due to inequality. The strong model of multiculturalism cannot help to meet most of the demands facing the marginalized immigrant populations. Claims of these groups go beyond the issue of inclusive citizenship. Immigrants reveal that only by creating social justice organizations, they can safeguard their fundamental human rights referring to the international and national legislation. About author Linda works as an editor at She has always enjoyed working with a variety of literature and being interested in new facts. In addition, she easily finds common ground with many people. She also received her master's degree from American University Washington

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