The Making of a Dream: How a Group of Young Undocumented Immigrants Helped Change What It Means To Be American by Laura Wides-Muñoz. January 30, 2018. Harper, 384 p. ISBN: 9780062560124. Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.
A journalist chronicles the next chapter in civil rights—the story of a movement and a nation, witnessed through the poignant and inspiring experiences of five young undocumented activists who are transforming society’s attitudes toward one of the most contentious political matters roiling America today: immigration.
They are called the DREAMers: young people who were brought, or sent, to the United States as children and who have lived for years in America without legal status. Growing up, they often worked hard in school, planned for college, only to learn they were, in the eyes of the United States government and many citizens, “illegal aliens.”
Determined to take fate into their own hands, a group of these young undocumented immigrants risked their safety to “come out” about their status—sparking a transformative movement, engineering a seismic shift in public opinion on immigration, and inspiring other social movements across the country. Their quest for permanent legal protection under the so-called “Dream Act,” stalled. But in 2012, the Obama administration issued a landmark, new immigration policy: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which has since protected more than half a million young immigrants from deportation even as efforts to install more expansive protections remain elusive.
The Making of a Dream begins at the turn of the millennium, with the first of a series of “Dream Act” proposals; follows the efforts of policy makers, activists, and undocumented immigrants themselves, and concludes with the 2016 presidential election and the first months of the Trump presidency. The immigrants’ coming of age stories intersect with the watershed political and economic events of the last two decades: 9/11, the recession, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Obama presidency, and the rebirth of the anti-immigrant right.
In telling their story, Laura Wides-Muñoz forces us to rethink our definition of what it means to be American.
Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Discrimination, Strong sexual themes, Alcohol, Anti-gay attitudes and epithets
Booklist (February 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 11))
Award-winning journalist Wides-Muñoz’s essential primer on the DREAM Act exposes the toll the U.S.’s broken immigration system takes on real people. As this legislation remains in hostage to political paralysis on Capitol Hill, the lives of undocumented young people brought to the U.S. as children, the so-called DREAMers, are left suspended in excruciating limbo. Wides-Muñoz weaves the experiences and life stories of a handful of these exceptional young people into her informative account of the tortuously frustrating and heartbreaking attempts at achieving immigration reform in the twenty-first century. Besides the DREAMers and their families, her well-developed cast of characters includes key legislators, young immigration activists, advocates, and organizations. Wides-Muñoz’s sometimes-wonky prose can intermittently belie the passionate story she tells, yet this is a valuable and detailed look at lawmaking and policy that affect people and communities across the nation and around the world as well as portraits of heroic youth willing to put their own status in jeopardy to advocate for fair treatment, not only for themselves and their families but for all immigrants.
Kirkus Reviews (January 15, 2018)
An eye-opening exploration of the DREAM Act and those who have tried to find safe harbor in the United States under its aegis.Relating her often poignant narrative through tales of aspiring citizens such as a Bolivian immigrant who arrived as a child, remained illegally, and has since become a leading activist in immigration-related causes, Wides-Muñoz, the vice president for special projects and editorial strategy at Fusion TV, examines changes in legislation and the national mood alike over the last 20 years. The DREAM Act, she writes, was the outgrowth of a George W. Bush–era series of legislative efforts to make it more difficult for so-called illegal aliens to find a path to legal permanent residence and even citizenship. The “Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act,” born of an unlikely alliance between Sens. Dick Durbin and Orrin Hatch, recognized that children brought to this country illegally were not willful criminals and therefore not deserving of punishments such as being denied educational opportunities. The story is full of ironies: the postal worker who discovered anthrax in the mail had long overstayed a tourist visa, while “the second US casualty in the [Iraq] war turned out to be a young man from Guatemala who had crossed the California border illegally.” After 9/11, writes Wides-Muñoz, efforts to improve the status of DREAMers were put on the back burner. During the Obama administration, those efforts were halfhearted enough that Hispanic voters “sat out the 2010 election in greater numbers than white or black voters,” to disastrous results for the Democrats in the face of the tea party onslaught that would go on to put Donald Trump, an avowed opponent of the act and of immigration, in the White House. Against that new tide of anti-immigrant sentiment, the book concludes, the DREAM Act may be doomed despite efforts in the Senate to initiate meaningful immigration reform. A well-crafted, timely contribution to the immigration debate
About the Author
Laura Wides-Muñoz is the author of The Making of a Dream: How a Group of Young Undocumented Immigrants Helped Change What It Means to be American. The book is based on more than a decade of reporting on immigration, much of it done while Laura was a staff writer for the Associated Press. Previously, she served as Vice President for Special Projects & Editorial Strategy at Univision’s English-language Fusion Network, and as a senior story editor for the network’s TV and digital investigative teams. Laura has reported from Cuba and throughout Central America and has written for the Miami Herald, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, among other outlets. She has won the Associated Press Managing Editors Award and multiple Society of Professional Journalists awards. The Making of a Dream is her first published book. She conceived of the project during a 2013 Harvard University Nieman Foundation for Journalism fellowship.
She lives in Washington, D.C. with her family. Her website is www.laurawidesmunoz.com
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