by Mayra Barrios (bw)
“Immigrants are incredible people because they are willing to leave everything they know for the unknown,” said Pulitzer Prize winning author Sonia Nazario as she addressed an audience of students, parents and other community members that gathered at the Wentworth Education Center on Thursday September, 15.
Nazario was invited by the Teachers’ College of San Joaquin to share her bestselling book; Enrique’s journey. A book based on the story of a Honduran boy and his journey to find his mother in the U.S.
Often seen as an economical and political issue, immigration is also a humanitarian issue because of its devastating impact on families. According to Nazario, “children are left with no parents” when parents migrate to the United States or when deported parents leave their U.S. born children behind.
“These parents have made this huge sacrifice for something better for their children and too often their children get lost in the process,” said Nazario.
While the United States offers many opportunities there may also be consequences to leaving the family behind, “if you leave your children for 10-years they might hate your guts,” Nazario questioned if, that is worth it?”
As a solution to the U.S. immigration, many states like Alabama, Georgia and Arizona have proposed different anti-immigration bills that often reflect “hostility” towards immigrants.
But for Nazario “the solution is south of the border” starting by keeping families together and increasing the number of jobs available for immigrants in their native countries. “Most immigrants rather stay in their home country with all the things they know and love,” highlighted Nazario.
However, instead of stimulating the U.S. neighboring country’s economies, in 2006 former president George W. Bush authorized a plan to build a 700-mile steel wall along the border with Mexico. Nazario estimated that it would take close to six billion dollars over the next twenty years to maintain the fence, “If you spend that six million on targeted economic development in parts of Mexico, it will actually reduce the flow of immigrants more than that fence would ever do.”
While lawmakers continue the debate how to fix the broken immigration system the numbers of migrant people keeps growing.
“One out of four [children] in the U.S. schools is an immigrant or a child of an immigrant” acknowledged host of the event Mike Founts, Ed. D. Superintendent of School, “…we are a country of immigrants,”
Perhaps the growth and migrant statistics is a reason why Nazario`s book is now required reading for many college and high schools students across the U.S.■