Throughout the Fall 2014 semester, a group of Frederick Community College Honors composition students are considering problems of complex identity, social/family belonging, cultural myth, and the role of language in forming how we see ourselves and the world around us.
In addition to reading and viewing texts such as Reyna Grande’s The Distance Between Us, Jose Antonio Vargas’s Outlaw: My Life As an Undocumented Immigrant (New York Times 7.14.14), and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk “The Danger of a Single Story,” students are deepening their awareness of the multiple perspectives undergirding these problems by interviewing FCC international and ESL students, both in person and through Google+ hangout technology.
The following post is the sixth of six submitted by the class. What did YOU think after reading The Distance Between Us? (Review our posting policy)
By Amber Snyder
Child immigration is a reoccurring topic in Reyna Grande’s The Distance Between Us, Jose Antonio Vargas’s Outlaw: My Life As an Undocumented Immigrant, and Sonia Nazario’s article, “The Children of the Drug Wars.” Although each text illustrates different experiences of child immigration, there are interesting similarities that exist between these different stories of immigration. For example, all of the readings discuss abandonment and the effect it has on children.
In Grande’s memoir, she describes her constant need for a mother and father. Just like Grande, many families in Honduras are separating to create better lives. This separation sadly leaves children to face a similar situation to the narrative recounted by Grande –– a life without parents. Jose Antonio Vargas also examines parentlessness and its effect on children by discussing his journey to a new country without his mother. Each text illustrates how family separation can become a common element of immigration.
Violence is also illustrated by Grande’s memoir and Nazario’s article. Grande was not trying to escape violence in her country per say, but she was trying to find a home with love and affection. She was clearly not receiving nurturing at her grandmother’s home, where the young Grande was beaten and neglected. For Grande, America represented a place where she could find love and safety. The children in Sonia Nazario’s article are also extremely frightened due to violence. These children do not wish to escape poverty, but choose to leave their native lands due to high murder rates. Through reading all three narratives, my perception of child immigration no longer stands the same as before. I now realize that these children are not leaving their families and home countries due to poverty or poor conditions. Children wish to leave their countries because they are terrified of being killed. I previously believed that it didn’t not matter if America had to deport children. Now I see that we should be doing more to hear their side of the story, and help them find refuge.
If people understood what intentions child immigrants had, I believe they might be more sympathetic, and try to find solutions that protect children’s safety. Just reading these three texts have changed my way of thinking, and I no longer see deportation as an immediate resort. I now understand that it is not merely poverty, but also violence, that is drawing countless undocumented children to our country.
Our thanks to Assistant Professor Magin LaSov Gregg, in the English Department at Frederick Community College for coordinating her students’ essays.