Ashes of the dream in Phoenix As young newlyweds, Lucy and Marco began to make a life for themselves. He got a job washing cars, and she eventually joined him at the car wash. A few years later they had a baby daughter. Soon, they bought a mobile home in central Phoenix and were taking vacations to Disneyland and Colorado. Marco had worked his way up to manager of the car wash. A “Support Our Troops” magnet decorated their refrigerator.
Known for her math skills, Viri was a member of a nationally recognized robotics team at a Phoenix high school. She went on to become an honors student at Arizona State University. Viri, like Lucy and Marco, appeared to be living the American dream, except they were not — Americans, that is. They were undocumented immigrants. And the dream doesn’t always work out. Lucy and Marco were arrested in a June 2009 immigration raid at the car wash. Viri, whose mother brought her to the United States when she was 9, lost a merit-based scholarship after residents in Arizona voted to deny statefunded scholarships and in-state tuition breaks to undocumented students.
Lucy, Viri, and Marco are among the people profiled in award-winning journalist Terry Greene Sterling’s book, Illegal: Life and Death in Arizona’s Immigration War Zone (Lyons Press, 2010). In her book, Sterling captures the often-forgotten human side in the contentious immigration debate, while also talking to some of the prominent figures on the other side of the issue, like Joe Arpaio, the self-described toughest sheriff in America. Sterling visits Santa Fe on Sunday, Jan. 9, at 9:30 a.m. for a reading at the United Church of Santa Fe (1804 Arroyo Chamiso, 988-3295). She will also answer questions and show short videos of some of the people she met during her research.
— Steven Talbot