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Top 5 books you should be reading on immigration

Here are some of the most relevant titles on immigration that should be on your reading list and on your bookshelf.

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1. "Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions," by Valeria Luiselli

This book hones in on the questions that are not asked of unaccompanied minors from Central America who cross the U.S.-Mexico border to reach this country, as much as the questions that are asked in the neat, orderly immigration forms that are supposed to contain the heartbreaking experiences that Luiselli, an acclaimed Mexican-American novelist and writer, hears from migrant children themselves as a translator in New York City immigration courts. “Numbers and maps tell horror stories, but the stories of deepest horror are perhaps those for which there are no numbers, no maps, no possible accountability, no words ever written or spoken. And perhaps the only way to grant any justice – were that even possible – is by hearing and recording those stories over and over again so that they come back, always, to haunt and shame us,” Luiselli writes. Through the stories recounted in this book, Luiselli leads the reader into a deeper understanding of the crises that are happening simultaneously, convergently, at our border, in our country, and in our halls of power.

2. "We Built the Wall: How the US Keeps Out Asylum Seekers from Mexico, Central America, and Beyond," by Eileen Truax

Featured in AL DÍA last week, this latest work from Truax, who has previously published an extensive look at Dreamers, takes a deep dive into the bureaucratic wall that has already been built, over decades, to determine who is and isn’t worthy of entry to the U.S. A timely and essential read that gives the broader historical and political context of the current heated debate about the construction of a physical wall on the border.

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3. "The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life," by Lauren Markham

4. Much is written, day-to-day, about the arrival of immigrants. Journalist Lauren Markham goes beyond this story in her first book, following two Salvadoran identical twin brothers, Ernesto and Raul, as they flee violence in their home country, and, after reaching the U.S., confront the challenges of making a new life in California while navigating the complexities of their immigration cases and statuses as undocumented minors.

4. "The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border," by Francisco Cantú

Cantú’s lyrical memoir traces his own journey, growing up raised by his mother, a Mexican-American park ranger in the U.S. Southwest, to his time working as a Border Patrol agent. The book is thoughtful and provocative in the perspectives it offers from both sides of the border, and from within and outside of the machinery of immigration enforcement.

5. Lost Children Archive, by Valeria Luiselli

The questions that Luiselli started to explore in nonfiction in her book that sits at the top of this list remain at the heart of her latest novel, just published at the beginning of this year. Through a portrait of a family on a road trip across the United States, Luiselli confronts the divisions that exist in the most intimate and public of spaces - from the U.S.-Mexico border and the families divided, and migrant children “lost” there, to the unexpected barriers that arise with those we love the most. 

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