WASHINGTON, D.C. – October 2, 2019 – (HISPANICIZE WIRE) – Against a backdrop of some 13 years of legislative failure to enact immigration reform; as immigration policies are announced, litigated, battled over, on an almost daily basis but rarely resolved; and with pundits and analysts doubting that immigration reform is achievable in the near future, Charles Kamasaki presents “Immigration Reform: The Corpse That Will Not Die.”

This masterful history of immigration reform richly details the legislative battles that led to the enactment of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), and of the skirmishes that followed. Kamasaki, who was a “rookie” lobbyist when negotiations began, shares how lessons learned back then may apply to today’s intractable immigration debates. The book also describes the roots of the open “racialization” of the immigration issue by anti-immigrant groups that led to the sharper racial polarization now seen in today’s debates. IRCA stands as the last time comprehensive immigration reform was enacted and signed into law, and Kamasaki makes the case that analyzing this success offers a better path toward successful reform than reassessing more recent failures.

Charles Kamasaki has spent most of his life working for UnidosUS, formerly the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization. In the early 1980s, Charles was thrust into the unlikely role as the point person on immigration policy. He joined a small group of advocates—The Group—that had first coalesced to oppose immigration legislation, but then pivoted to shape and facilitate passage of the bill. His direct experience lobbying the last successful immigration reforms, juxtaposed with his current vantage point as a “senior statesman” in both the Hispanic civil rights and immigrant rights movements makes him uniquely qualified to tell the story of IRCA’s passage, and to divine its lessons for the next generation of would-be reformers. His account underscores the centrality of racial issues in the immigration reform debate and why it has become a near-perpetual topic of political debate. Immigration Reform:

The Corpse That Will Not Die is the single indispensable book for everyone seeking to truly understand the origins of the legislative maneuverings, policy ideas, and political forces that underlie the debates over immigration reform today and will for generations to come.

Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent will interview Kamasaki about the book, which concludes with a series of lessons for future reformers.

Please join us for the event at the National Press Club presented by Mandel Vilar Press, the publishing arm of the non profit Américas por la Conservación + las Artes (AFC+A) and co-hosts Ibarra Strategy and National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association (NLFRTA). A reception will follow the book discussion.

WHAT: Book Chat with Charles Kamasaki, author of “Immigration Reform: The Corpse That Will Not Die,” followed by a reception

WHO: Kamasaki will be interviewed by Washington Post Columnist Greg Sargent

WHEN: Tuesday, October 8, 6:00 PM

WHERE: National Press Club – Holeman Lounge


Gebe Martinez [email protected] 703-731-9505

Irene Vilar [email protected] 303-330-6597


Click  HERE to watch our video

About Americas for Conservation +the Arts (AFC+A)
Americas for Conservation +the Arts (AFC+A) is a Colorado and Puerto Rico based environmental nonprofit advancing community resilience through a citizenry of environmental stewards for public health, and leveraging arts and culture for conservation gains. AFC+A houses four main initiatives: the annual Americas Latino Eco Festival, the Puerto Rico Resilience Project, Promotores Verdes, and Mandel Vilar Press, growing a culture of diversity and conservation in publishing.

AFC+A has received the City of Denver Office of Sustainability Community Builder 2016 Love This Place Award , as well as the 2017 Mayor’s Awards for Excellence in Arts & Culture Imagine 2020, Governor John Hickenlooper Colorado Proclamation, the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education 2018 Innovative Program Award, and NEEF 2018 National Public Lands Day National Initiative Showcase.

Our Vision

All communities must have equal access to education and a healthy environment. Arts grow and sustain healthy communities and social justice. Intersectionality is the foundation for transformational change.

Our Core Values

JUSTICE, demands equality of opportunity RESILIENCE, overcomes adversity INCLUSIVENESS, advances justice collaboration, powers intersectionality INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS, grow resilience and transformational change AUTHENTIC LEADERSHIP, speaks Jemez Principles EMPOWERMENT, stems from all our Core Values


More About the Book
“Official Washington” has pushed for immigration reform legislation on four occasions over the last 20 years and failed each time. Like generals fighting the last war, lawmakers, advocates, and pundits tend to focus on fixing what went wrong in past battles. Their prescriptions—partisans call for election of more of their own, scholars push pet policy ideas, political scientists urge institutional reforms, moderates demand greater willingness to compromise, and activists demand more protests and demonstrations— often amount to just more of the same.

Instead of analyzing past failures, one might look for guidance to the last successful comprehensive immigration bill: the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). Relatively little has been written about how the bill came to be, and even less well documented are the roles that key lawmakers and advocacy organizations played in the process. The IRCA debate also saw the birth and growth of potent pro- and anti-immigrant movements. Immigrant rights advocates are centered in the Democratic Party, while immigration naysayers are concentrated among self-identified conservatives in the GOP that propelled the initially implausible candidacy of Donald Trump to a stunning victory in 2016.

Looking to this history to inform the future raises key questions:

What strategies did Latino groups and their pro-immigrant allies use to shape reforms that eventually legalized more than three million previously undocumented immigrants and nearly doubled levels of legal immigration?

How did lawmakers & advocacy groups navigate the thicket of contradictory interests to produce major immigration reforms?

What lessons from the passage of the last major set of comprehensive reforms might be applicable to breaking the current impasse on immigration policy?

The answers to these and a host of related questions can be found in Immigration Reform: The Corpse That Will Not Die, a book of narrative history.


“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 MurguíaPresident and CEO, UnidosUS

“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 Muñoz, Vice President, New America, and past Domestic Policy Director, Obama Administration

“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

“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 SharryExecutive Director, America’s Voice

“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)

“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 CorchadoDallas Morning News Mexico Correspondent and author of Midnight in Mexico and Homelands

“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 CisnerosChairman, City View, and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development