A sympathetic portrayal of 12 illegal immigrants who entered the US during the 80's to escape their lives in Mexico, El Salvador, Ecuador, Haiti, Guatemala, Jamaica, and Honduras. The accounts--each a success story in its own way--illustrate the various routes and hazards through which the sin papeles (""those without papers"") reach Florida or the Southwest, the networks that support newly arrived aliens, and the hopes that sustain them. The near-casual attitude of some Mexicans toward emigration and possible deportation contrasts markedly with that of other emigrants, for whom the journey is often a desperate, all-or-nothing gamble. Poynter uses fictional techniques like flashback and direct quotes to enliven the innate drama here; but what's lacking is a sense of distinct personalities: the sin papeles all seem to speak with one voice and to be cut from the same cloth. Also, the opening chapter, describing the problem of illegal immigration in general, is short on specifics, especially with regard to economic issues, and long on undocumented assertions (e.g., ""Only a small percentage of sin papeles bring their children with them""). Overall, not a balanced treatment but successful in putting a human face on an important social, economic, and political issue. Bibliography; index and b&w photos not seen.