Just Like Us by Helen Thorpe
It's About: Four Mexican girls being raised in Colorado. All four girls had at least one parent who entered America illegally. Of the four girls, one was born a U.S. citizen, one became a legal resident, and two lacked documents. Helen Thorpe, wife of then Mayor John Hickenlooper (later Governor), followed the four girls from their senior year in high school through college (all four graduated with a Bachelor's Degree) and into life after college. The story begins in 2004 and brings us to 2009 with an afterward written in 2011. The story is an eye-opening look at immigration from the point of view of two intelligent, brave young women who have no way to get driver's licenses or any other form of identification legally, cannot receive federal funding for college, cannot work legally in the United States and risk deportation if they get caught breaking the law. It is an amazing story of two women who have managed to graduate from college against all odds.
My Thoughts: This is one of those books that forces me to re-evaluate my very narrow, little black and white world. Unfortunately, immigration has not been one of those issues that I have kept up on. I always figured that illegal immigrants were on their own in the deportation battle because they had broken American laws to enter the country. Until reading this book, I did not realize the issues raised as many of those people brought their children with them when they crossed the borders. Those children were raised in America, do not remember their countries of origin and yet are not able to be legal citizens in America. The only option they have is to go back to their country of birth and try to enter the country legally. Many of them are the oldest children in their families and their siblings were all born legally in America. Many times at least one of their parents is also legal. They know no other way but the American way.
I am a mother. If I needed to break laws in order to provide my child food, clothing and shelter, I would do so.
Now America must make decisions. Do we grant these children that are not legal - through no choice of their own - amnesty?
Where are they suppose to go? What are they suppose to do without legal status?
There are no easy answers and my little world has been tipped upside down as I wrestle with this issue.
Once a mother, always a mother and what I wish for my children, I wish for all children.