Chiara Galli of the University of California, Los Angeles reviews Lawyering an Uncertain Cause: Immigration Advocacy and Chinese Youth in the US by Michelle Statz. Considering legal contexts of youth who migrate alone and clandestinely from China to the United States, Statz examines the figure of the “vulnerable Chinese child” that powerfully legitimates legal claims and attorneys’ efforts. These young migrants represent only a fraction of all unaccompanied minors in the US, yet they are in many ways depicted as a preeminent professional and moral cause by immigration advocates. At the same time, the transnational ambitions and obligations of Chinese youth implicitly unsettle this figure. Youths’ maneuvers not only belie attorneys’ reliance on racialized discourses of childhood and the Chinese family, but they also reveal more broad uncertainties around legal frameworks, institutional practices, health and labor rights—and lawyering itself. Based on three years of fieldwork across the United States, this book is a novel study of the complex and often contradictory rights, responsibilities, and expectations that motivate global youth and the American attorneys who work on their behalf.
Read the book review at https://doi.org/10.1177/0197918319855062.