News & Reviews

On December 16, the acclaimed investigative journalism website ProPublica published an article quoting the author regarding on a implementation of a small legalization program for undocumented Liberian nationals, here. While some see the Liberian program as a test case for a potential future legalization program, issues of implementation from the perspective of service organizations responsible for assisting applicants are more fully fleshed out in this article in the Journal for Migration and Human Security, here.

The author was a special guest on the Bipartisan Policy Center’s “This Week in Immigration” Podcast, which began airing in the week of December 14, 2020. The podcast is linked here.

In November the IdeaSpace website published an interview with the author regarding the rationale for reformers to affirmatively articulate support for basic immigration enforcement. The interview can be found by clicking here.

In anticipation of an event it co-hosted, HOLA America, a Midwest-based multimedia firm, published a review of the book in September 2020, which can be found by clicking here.

On September 12, Empowering Latino Futures/Latino Literacy Now! announced that Immigration Reform: The Corpse That Will Not Die had been selected as the first place winner for the 2020 International Latino Book Awards Best Political/Current Affairs book. The virtual awards program in its entirety can be viewed by clicking here, and an article about the program, which referred to the book as “one of the most eagerly-awaited books” of the season can be found by clicking here.

Midwest Book Review published a review of the book in its August 2020 newsletter, writing that it “Provides extraordinary backgrounded insights of immense interest” and is “exceptionally well written, organized and presented.” See the full review by clicking here.

Also in August, Immigration Advocates Network, the largest network of immigration legal services providers, posted its podcast on the book which can be accessed by clicking here.

The author appeared on the National Immigration Forum’s “Only in America” podcast series to discuss the historical antecedents of the current immigration debate and lessons for today’s generation of immigration reformers. Listen to the podcast by clicking here.

On June 2020, the author was featured in a new website, IdeaSpace, featuring “left” and “right” perspectives on who leads immigration policy and what they believe. Visit the website by clicking here

On May 21, 2020, the author was highlighted in the news magazine Frank News, which promotes “Understanding of the world yesterday, today, and tomorrow,” through spin-free, “frank” coverage of the news. Read the interview by clicking here.

On March 20, 2020, Foreword Reviews, the book industry’s leading reviewer of books from small, independent, and university presses announced that Immigration Reform: The Corpse That Will Not Die was selected as a finalist for the 2019 INDIES Book of the Year in Nonfiction History; see the books selected for this prestigious recognition by clicking here.

On March 5, the author was quoted and the book was discussed in a feature article in both the print and online editions of the New York Times. Read the article by clicking here.

On November 13, 2019, the book was discussed on the SiriusXM public affairs program, the Laura Coates Show. Listen to the discussion by clicking here.

A book event at Arizona State University in November 2019 resulted in this article in ASU Now, the campus newsmagazine. Read the article by clicking here.

Journalists and pundits review Immigration Reform: The Corpse That Will Not Die

Masterful. Absolutely essential reading for anyone trying to understand the advocacy and legislative work that shaped U.S. immigration policy in the 1980s and early ’90s.

Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker

If you haven’t read this, you should. Kamasaki writes with a rare mix of knowledge, humility, and generosity towards those with whom he disagrees. Filled with fascinating detail.

Jason DeParle, The New York Times

Nearly everyone regards the US immigration system as “broken,” yet the nation is so divided on the subject that it seemingly can’t be fixed. It’s the “corpse that will not die” of Charles Kamasaki’s magisterial recounting of dozens of failed attempts to bring it alive. Yet, in 1986, Congress and the Reagan administration did pass a comprehensive immigration reform — pushed by a small group of activists who succeeded against all odds. Kamasaki was at the center of that struggle and tells in detail how it happened. His tale is instructive for current-day leaders and citizens: if reform could happen three decades ago, why not now?

Mort Kondracke, columnist and TV commentator

Charles Kamasaki provides us with a poignant, evocative and timely look into the national debate of immigration. We couldn’t be luckier for this book. In Immigration Reform: The Corpse That Will Not Die, Kamasaki traces the roots of the perpetual racial divide by inviting us into a front row seat to a pivotal moment when he helped shape the comprehensive, bipartisan immigration reform widely known as IRCA in 1986. At a time when these issues loom even larger, dominated by anger, xenophobia, nativism — emotions underscored by the siren call for a Wall — Immigration Reform is a must read. It provides valuable lessons on how we got here and how to get out of the logjam that’s challenging the core foundation of a nation of immigrants.

Alfredo Corchado, Dallas Morning News Mexico Correspondent and author of Midnight in Mexico and Homelands

Read what veterans of the immigration reform movement have said about the book.

Charles Kamasaki has painstakingly written a book that provides invaluable insight into the labyrinthian process of enacting major social legislation: original intent, coalition building, public engagement, leadership personalities, the interplay of ideals and compromises. And because the legislation he chronicles involves the contentious subject of immigration, the book goes far beyond a narrative of law-making. Kamasaki captures the evolution of public attitudes, the human and economic costs, and the hardening positions which have transformed immigration into one of the most conflictive issues in modern America. This is legislative history intertwined with social history in one powerful volume.

Henry Cisneros, Chairman, City View, and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

From his role in the cast of the drama, Charles Kamasaki gives us a masterful, sweeping account of the enactment in 1986 of landmark immigration legislation that reverberates through our immigration debates today. His telling – in highly readable, storytelling style – connects major American cultural and political themes, from U.S.-Mexican relations to the origins of key social justice movements to the influence of southern lawmakers in American politics, with the nation’s immigration history. But ultimately, the book shows how history and change are about the individuals who are in the fray and what they do to get to “yes” from deeply different places. Would that such actors were on the stage again today.

Doris Meissner, former INS Commissioner and Director, US Migration Policy, Migration Policy Institute

The best, most incisive and comprehensive analysis and history of a process that has changed America in fundamental ways.

Representative Howard Berman (ret.)

Essential reading for anyone who is at all curious about how the country’s always-challenging immigration debate got to where it is. In this account, expertly told by an acute observer of policy and the humans who shape it, you will learn about history, about race, and about how our democracy works almost before you realize that it’s happening. No journalist should attempt to cover immigration without reading this book!

Cecilia, Munoz, Vice President, New America, and past Domestic Policy Director, Obama Administration

Kamasaki tells a compelling and true story of American politics through the eyes of a participant, the mind of a scholar and the voice of a novelist. He transports the reader with vivid portrayals of people and moments as a historic reform debate unfolded in the Congress, and the country. If readers want to understand the fundamental character of the politics of immigration then and now, how Washington can fail over and over again yet still rise to achieve historic reforms, and how the 1980s illuminate paths ahead in the Age of Trump — then read this book. Trust me. I was there.

Rick Swartz, Founder, National Immigration Forum

Immigration Reform:  The Corpse That Will Not Die is a timely and important achievement! Immigration policy remains one of our most vexing national issues.  Kamasaki offers an insightful analysis of the factors that helped produce the nation’s last comprehensive immigration act 30 years ago. However, its greater contribution may be in what it says about the challenges facing us today. The fact that the story is viewed through the lens of the Latino civil rights movement makes the book all the more significant. Bravo!

Wade Henderson, Immediate Past President, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

What Americans don’t know about how immigration policy is made could fill a book. Finally, that book — about how the “corpse” of immigration reform once rose from the dead and could be revived again — has been written, by someone who knows where all the bodies are buried. The definitive chronicle of immigration reform; destined to be a classic legislative case study.

Raul Yzaguirre, President Emeritus, UnidosUS (formerly NCLR)

Immigration Reform: The Corpse That Will Not Die is magnificent: a meticulously written, humanly-absorbing, dramatic saga about how the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 became law. This superb social document includes the fascinating and significantly historic account of how a diverse coalition of civil rights and social justice advocates, acting together as a countervailing force, successfully challenged the hallowed halls of institutional power — as represented in the committees of Congress — to finally pass a contentious version of the immigration reform bill we have today. No one knows the story better than Charles Kamasaki, for he was there where the action was.

Herman Gallegos, Founder, Southwest Council of La Raza (now UnidosUS)

With this stirring, brilliant, and comprehensive look at the history of the Latino civil rights movement through the lens of immigration, Charles Kamasaki cements his legacy as one of the most knowledgeable and effective advocates for the Hispanic community over the last forty years. And if there was a “Game of Thrones” about how IRCA passed, this book would be the script!

Janet Murguia, President and CEO, UnidosUS

Who gets to be a citizen of America and who gets to decide is a defining challenge for our nation. The immigration policy debate continues to roil our politics and our elections, and some believe it is our country’s most difficult policy issue to resolve. This book is the origin story of this modern-day showdown. Written by a warrior who was in the room at every stage, and who, along with his fellow advocates, helped shape one of modern America’s monumental and improbable legislative breakthroughs, this book offers a remarkable view into the dynamics of the immigration reform debate, the challenges of making legislative sausage, and the contending forces that compete and cooperate to produce either political paralysis or, this case, historic change.

Frank Sharry, Executive Director, America’s Voice

Charles Kamasaki masterfully describes the power of agricultural employers and rural legislators to obstruct and shape immigration reform and the creative responses of advocates for farmworkers. The book demonstrates the pivotal role in the 1986 immigration bill of the compromise on a “Special Agricultural Worker” program, legalizing 1.1 million undocumented farmworkers, and changes in the agricultural guestworker program. Its trenchant analysis informs the current and centuries-long struggles over agribusiness’s recruitment of foreign citizens to harvest its crops and the economic and political status of farmworkers. 

Bruce Goldstein, Executive Director, Farmworker Justice

Charles Kamasaki’s archly titled Immigration Reform, the Corpse that Will Not Die is compelling history for any American trying to understand the ever-expanding policy pothole that is our broken immigration system — and the polarizing politics that have paralyzed progress. It is a timely reflection on the web of contingencies that often inform the fate of national issues. For reform advocates who have been struggling for decades to enshrine a more inclusive vision of America in our immigration laws, it provides encouragement to keep fighting and important insights about the need for an all of the above approach to securing landmark legislation: crafty inside lobbying, street heat in communities across the country, fresh communication and policy strategies, lawmakers willing to put real skin in the game, openness to compromise, and an unwavering moral compass. Amidst one of the most relentless attacks on immigrants and immigration in a generation, these words of wisdom from a legend in the field provide a hopeful reminder that reform is not dead – and will not die. 

Marshall Fitz, Managing Director, Immigration, The Emerson Collective

Charles Kamasaki’s book Immigration Reform is both a rare insider’s view on how the country’s last major immigration reform got done in Congress — with unique insight on how outside groups shape major policy changes — and a masterful feat of storytelling, engaging and enjoyable from beginning to end. He seamlessly weaves together the interests, the politics, and the personalities that shaped the reform effort in a way that makes it both a great story and an essential historical account that has important lessons for today’s immigration debates. 

Andrew Selee, PhD, President, Migration Policy Institute (MPI)

In this deeply researched and beautifully written insider account of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, Charles Kamasaki has formulated a clear, compelling narrative that is highly relevant to the ongoing struggle to advance immigrants’ rights today. Everyone who is engaged in the debate about the future of immigration reform should read this book.

Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director, American Civil Liberties Union

Charles Kamasaki’s history is a tour d’force. Don’t leave home without it!

Robert Juceam, Of Counsel, Fried,Frank, Harris & Shriver

A superb book!

Donald Kerwin, Executive Director, Center for Migration Studies