Pre-pandemic, I wrote about an immigration court judge who, alone among her peers across the country, has rejected every single asylum seeker in the past five years–more than 200 in all. The people who came before Judge Agnelis Reese, who is also an ordained minister, arrived from around the globe: Somalia, Honduras, Mexico, Eritrea, Cameroon, Cuba. Some had lawyers, most didn’t; it made no difference. All were ordered deported. You can read the piece, “Your Judge is Your Destiny,” which was named a #1 Longreads pick, in the July 2019 issue of Topic magazine here.
I also published an article in the Nation that takes readers to a small town in the heart of California’s oil country that has led an uprising against the industry. That article, “Meet the Millennial Mayor Who Took on Big Oil–And Won,” is here.
In 2018, I wrote two pieces for San Francisco Magazine. The first, “The Guardians of Ghost Town,” was about the past, present, and future of a single block in West Oakland, and can be found here. The second was a profile of Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist who discovered CTE in NFL players and went on to challenge the findings of a California sheriff in cases of deaths in police custody, which is here.
In 2018 I also wrote about the “other” Coachella for Longreads, the farmworker communities that sit in the shadow of the music festival, some of which are 99.9% Latino. I spent a year reporting from these places, which have magical names like Thermal, Oasis, and Mecca, and found both fear and people fighting back. You can read “Coachella, Underground” in English here and Spanish here. You can also check out the LA Times coverage of my piece here and listen to my interview with KPFA here.
I also profiled Josh Damigo, whose brother, Nathan, has become a star in the white supremacist movement and was a key organizer of the Charlottesville rally that turned deadly. The feature, “My Brother, the White Nationalist,” was published in the April/May 2018 issue of Pacific Standard, and is available here.
In 2017 I wrote “A Death on the Mainland,” which appeared in the March issue of Vice Magazine. It is an investigation into the death of a young man sent by the state of Hawaii to a private prison in the Arizona desert. Due to overcrowding, Hawaii has sent thousands of inmates to the mainland for more than two decades, most to for-profit prisons run by the Corrections Corporation of American–recently renamed CoreCivic–the largest such company in the world.
In 2016, I did several articles for Slate, in partnership with the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute, that looked at work and workplace abuses. These included a behind-the-scenes look at the low-wage workers who made Super Bowl 50 possible–I was one of them–which led to a class action lawsuit. I spoke to NPR’s “Only a Game” program about the lawsuit, which the LA Times also covered. In the same series, I wrote about the horrendous conditions faced by turkey plant workers in the run up to Thanksgiving, and of the rampant wage theft in California’s fields. In 2016 I also wrote about Emeryville, a tiny city in the Bay Area that boasts the highest minimum wage in the country. “This is What $15 an Hour Looks Like” was published in the Nation, and looks at the impact of a higher minimum wage for workers.
Other articles include a piece for the Virginia Quarterly Review called “The Forgotten Village,” in which I return to the same region and labor camp that inspired John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Before that was “Burn After Reading” for Harper’s, about the strange history of The Anarchist Cookbook. Previous investigative projects have focused on child farmworkers who harvest tobacco, an undercover look at the temp warehouse workers who make online shopping possible, and the largely invisible Latino immigrants who are the backbone of the golf industry. That last one was for Golf Digest, and won the Sidney Award for “socially-conscious journalism.” You can hear me talk to WNYC’s Leonard Lopate about the Steinbeck piece here and tobacco article here; to NPR’s Morning Edition about the warehouse piece here; or to Marketplace about the golf story here.
Below are links to more writing, divided by publication.