In this English-language edition of her first book, an immigrant, LA–based reporter tells the intimate stories of the young people who, by no choice of their own, live without legal status in the United States.
With both political parties posturing on the issue of immigration reform and with the consequences of the president’s controversial executive action still unfolding, Truax’s subject could hardly be timelier. And it’s impossible not to sympathize with the subgroup of the estimated 11 million illegals living in America she profiles here: young people boldly declaring their undocumented status, bringing dangerous attention to their precarious lives, and organizing to encourage passage of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act. Truax showcases the personal histories of the Dreamers living under the constant threat of deportation and denied access to educational opportunities, housing, permits, licenses and career paths many take for granted. Here, they “speak for themselves,” relating tales of fear, frustration, courage, achievement and assertiveness: the Vietnamese honor student; the Mexican high schooler teaching English to her neighbors; the Texas student leader setting up a Dream Alliance chapter. Having covered this story for years and earned their trust, Truax introduces us to the places Dreamers go for support—the Food Closet at UCLA, El Hormiguero in the San Fernando Valley—to the political actions and to training sessions held in various states, to activists and politicians sympathetic to the cause—Gov. Jerry Brown, California state representative Gil Cedillo, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin—and even to some immigration opponents such as Maricopa County’s notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio. There is, of course, a serious economic, legal, even moral argument against immigration on the Dreamers’ terms. But Truax focuses solely on the struggle and challenges they face today, and she does so in a way that leaves a mark on any reader with a conscience.
A forthright, moving piece of advocacy journalism.