We Are Here to Stay

Voices of Un­doc­u­mented Young Adults

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Middle Grade - CATHER­INE THURESON

Su­san Kuk­lin Can­dlewick (JAN­UARY) Hard­cover $19.99 (192pp) 978-0-7636-7884-5

We Are Here to Stay col­lects the com­pelling sto­ries of young adults who live, un­doc­u­mented, in the United States.

These sto­ries are not po­lit­i­cal; they im­part the ex­pe­ri­ences of real chil­dren who had lit­tle say when they came to the United States from all over the world: from Ghana, Colom­bia, Mex­ico, Korea, and In­de­pen­dent Samoa.

Each chap­ter is de­voted to an in­di­vid­ual and their fam­ily. One child, J, came at thir­teen—he be­lieved for a bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion, though he was ac­tu­ally be­ing traf­ficked. Other fam­i­lies came for work and chose to stay when their jobs ended, and still oth­ers came to es­cape the dan­gers of their home coun­tries. Vi­o­lence is re­called: one child was shot while play­ing out­side; an­other’s brother was found and de­ported, only to be killed by a drug car­tel.

There are strik­ing sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween the sto­ries. The fea­tured chil­dren live with the fear of be­ing dis­cov­ered and de­ported to coun­tries that are no longer fa­mil­iar. Nev­er­the­less, each is driven to suc­ceed, and each holds on to an idea of the Amer­i­can dream.

Given on­go­ing un­cer­tainty about the fu­ture of DACA, the book has re­moved the names of ev­ery­one in­ter­viewed as well as iden­ti­fy­ing pho­to­graphs. In their places are blank pages and frames. These empty pages are haunt­ing, em­pha­siz­ing the fear that the chil­dren live with, even as their sto­ries ad­dress the im­por­tance of bring­ing their ex­pe­ri­ences out of hid­ing.

A brief sec­tion at the end in­cludes ex­pla­na­tions of the acts and re­forms that have af­fected im­mi­gra­tion through­out US his­tory. This in­for­ma­tion is use­ful for un­der­stand­ing the le­gal dif­fi­cul­ties that peo­ple who want to come to the US face.

We Are Here to Stay is an im­por­tant book for any­one con­cerned about the is­sues sur­round­ing un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants.

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