The Accidental American 9781576754382

Immigration and Citizenship in the Age of Globalization

The Accidental American

The Accidental American advocates a bold new approach to immigration: a free international flow of labor to match globalization’s free flow of capital.

The Accidental American advocates a bold new approach to immigration: a free international flow of labor to match globalization’s free flow of capital. After all, corporations are encouraged to move anywhere in the world they can maximize their earnings. People shouldn’t have to risk exploitation, abuse, even imprisonment when they try to do the same.

Activist, journalist, and immigration expert Rinku Sen and organizer Fekkak Mamdouh examine the consequences of this injustice through Mamdouh’s own story. Born in Morocco, he was a waiter and union leader at Windows on the World, a restaurant in the World Trade Center, on September 11th. In the aftermath, facing a rising tide of anti-immigrant bias, Mamdouh and others formed the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York to help their colleagues fight for decent jobs and fair treatment.

The experiences of Mamdouh and his coworkers vividly demonstrate the human cost of our flawed immigration policies. Since September 11th, immigrants have increasingly been treated as presumptive criminals. As a counterpoint to these regressive, fundamentally un-American practices, Sen forcefully advocates more humane policies, coupled with proposals for reforming globalization so that all countries can more equitably benefit from a mobile labor force.

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Overview

The Accidental American advocates a bold new approach to immigration: a free international flow of labor to match globalization’s free flow of capital.

The Accidental American advocates a bold new approach to immigration: a free international flow of labor to match globalization’s free flow of capital. After all, corporations are encouraged to move anywhere in the world they can maximize their earnings. People shouldn’t have to risk exploitation, abuse, even imprisonment when they try to do the same.

Activist, journalist, and immigration expert Rinku Sen and organizer Fekkak Mamdouh examine the consequences of this injustice through Mamdouh’s own story. Born in Morocco, he was a waiter and union leader at Windows on the World, a restaurant in the World Trade Center, on September 11th. In the aftermath, facing a rising tide of anti-immigrant bias, Mamdouh and others formed the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York to help their colleagues fight for decent jobs and fair treatment.

The experiences of Mamdouh and his coworkers vividly demonstrate the human cost of our flawed immigration policies. Since September 11th, immigrants have increasingly been treated as presumptive criminals. As a counterpoint to these regressive, fundamentally un-American practices, Sen forcefully advocates more humane policies, coupled with proposals for reforming globalization so that all countries can more equitably benefit from a mobile labor force.

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Meet the Authors


Visit Author Page - Fekkak Mamdouh



Fekkak Mamdouh is a 45-year-old Moroccan who was headwaiter and beloved union leader at Windows on the World, a restaurant in the World Trade Towers.  Mamdouh grew up poor in Morrocco, and then emigrated to Saudi Arabia as a young adult, where he worked for the Saudi Royal Family. He first came to the United States as a paid companion to a Saudi prince, then overstayed his visa and remained here permanently, changing his status from illegal to legal through marriage.

Mamdouh was a career waiter until September 11th transformed him into an accidental organizer.

For more information on The Accidental American, check out the book-oriented website.


Visit Author Page - Rinku Sen


Rinku Sen, the Publisher of ColorLines magazine and soon-to-be Executive Director of the Applied Research Center (ARC), has a rich history of organizing, writing and lecturing on issues of race, gender and activism. She has written extensively about immigration, community organizing and women’s lives for a wide variety of publications including Third Force, AlterNet, tompaine.com, Race, Poverty & the Environment, Amerasia Journal and Colorlines. Her last book, Stir It Up: Lessons in Community Organizing, a guide for community organizations of all orientations was a finalist for the 2004 Nautilus Book Award in the social change category. For more information on The Accidental American, check out the book-oriented website.

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Introduction:
Coming to Citizenship in a Near-Global Age

Chapter 1: Leaving Home

Chapter 2: Us and Them After September 11

Chapter 3: Crimmigration

Chapter 4:
Learning to Organize

Chapter 5:
Building a Cooperative Restaurant

Chapter 6: Scaling Up Throughout the Industry

Chapter 7: Framing the Immigration Debate

Chapter 8: Building a Movement

Chapter 9: Dreaming Globally

Chapter 10: Everybody Means Everybody

Acknowledgments

About the Authors

Index

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Endorsements



“If you have ever had to struggle as an outsider or a newcomer (and all of us have), this book will touch your heart. It is a poignant story that points the way forward for us all.”

—Van Jones, President and Founder, Green for All, and author of The Future is Getting Restless

“Windows on the World was the name of the World Trade Center restaurant that was destroyed on 9/11, and in The Accidental American it provides a window with a striking view. Sen and Mamdouh show how, in a few weeks in 2001, the restaurant’s immigrant workers went from being victims of terrorism to being targets of American anti-immigrant fervor. There’s a bright side, though, because this book vividly highlights a seldom-mentioned side of recent immigrants’ experience: their willingness to struggle for better working conditions for workers of all ethnicities in their adopted nation.”

—Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed, Bait and Switch, and Dancing in the Streets

“By focusing on the concrete experiences of particular people, Sen and Mamdouh show us an overlooked aspect of the global changes that have set contemporary immigration in motion. And because they also show us the resilient efforts of these ordinary people to act together to control the forces that are shaping all our lives, they tell a story that is essentially hopeful and, indeed, the only story that in the end matters."

—Frances Fox Piven, Distinguished Professor, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, and author of Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America


“Rinku Sen and Fekkak Mamdouh have brilliantly depicted the new stage in America’s immigrant saga. They explore the shadowy corners of our modern global economy, the courageous battle for survival of low-wage migrant laborers, and the furious rise of anti-immigrant feeling here and in Europe. By organizing to improve their working conditions, they remind us, those immigrants are changing our nation for the better.”

—Juan Gonzalez, New York Daily News columnist, author of Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America, and cohost of Democracy Now!

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