Today, NPR reports the story of a deported migrant, named only as Nasario, who waits anxiously to be reunited with his daughter. Nasario, a victim of the Trump administration’s so-called zero-tolerance policy, is a Guatemalan farmer fleeing gang violence. He and his young daughter were apprehended crossing the border illegally and were separated. Six weeks later, he’s been deported and his daughter remains in a New York shelter. She is five years old. She was taken out of his arms by border patrol agents. They both cry every day. Nasario is a broken man.
These are the stories of our time. A new one every day. Someday there will be books for young readers about these stories, but how will we frame them? As part of a grim interlude that has been overcome and the culprits brought to justice? Or as part of a successful takeover by fascists and racists of a country once founded on principles of liberty and justice?
What would I do if my child and I were in danger in my homeland? Would I not try to leave by any means available to me?
Meanwhile, in the book trenches, I’m Your Neighbor continues its collection of books for young readers, books that celebrate and honor immigrant experiences and offer booksellers, librarians, educators, community organizers, and families information and titles that can help build connections across cultures.
I was honored to be on a panel at ALA 2018 with Anne Sibley O’Brien, Thi Bui, Bao Phi, and Terry Young speaking on Unpacking the Immigrant Experience: Creating a Space for New Arrivals . And beyond honored to receive the 2017-18 APALA award for children’s fiction for Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh.
This is the America I know. Today, it seems in danger of extinction.