tv Author Discussion on Immigration CSPAN September 1, 2019 7:55pm-9:01pm EDT
the post is a sponsor and will be for a long time to come. that's my great pleasure to be here with these three authors let me briefly introduce them. a fiction and nonfiction author whose books include across 100 mountains, dancing with butterflies, the memoir of the distance between us which was a finalist in the prize and the new book a dream called home is also a memoir that received multiple awards including the literary award from the american
book award. she was born in mexico and came to the united states as a child. fiction, essays, criticism memoir, multiple books most recently a memoir might send an introduction this does not itbelong to me is one of the mot innovative binding designs i've eseen in a while. recipients of the guggenheim fellowship and macarthur fellowship was born in sarajevo and came to the united states in 1992 when able to return the planned violencplan to the viold broken out at home. and the author of maximum city the finalist of the pulitzer prize in 2005 an assistant 2005t professor of journalism at nyu cawhose latest book is called ts land is our land of immigrants manifesto and he came to the united states when he was in his
early teens i believe. so it's always fun when you have a group of writers to start us off if you could briefly describe what led you to write this book on how you knew it was a story you wanted to tell and arguments he wanted to make and also share with us a passage that you think exemplifies that effort. >> hello everybody. thank you for being here today. it's such an honor for me to be sharing this space here with these wonderful offers. a dream called home is a sequel to my previous memoir the distance between us and the distance between us i write about my experience. they both immigrated to come
here to look for work and i try to write about what it's like to be a child in this situation of not having my parents be l left behind and not knowing if we would ever be reunited again, and then i write about my own border crossing coming here 9-years-old running across the border to be reunited with my family. so, when i wrote a dream called home, i wanted to continue writing about my experiences of growing up here in the united enstates. first as an undocumented immigrant, and then going on to become the first person in my family to go to the university. my father only went to third grade and my mother only went to sixth grade. so, for me, going to the universituniversity was one of e biggest accomplishments of my life.
the university students especially coming from my own background of being low income , anig immigrant. so, one of the reasons that motivated me is because i feel there are not a lot of books about latinos in college. and i wanted to cut through that. we do go to college, but we are working professionals so that is one of the most important things i was trying to cover in this book, and i also write about my dream of wanting to be a professional writer and all the obstacles they had to overcome to make that dream t a reality. the book is called a dream called home, because the theme of the book is about my search for home. and my search of trying to really find a place where i felt i belonged.
>> depression and anxiety and ptsd these words are not part of my vocabulary so i never use them to describe how i felt like i expressed my feelings through stories while my a father drowned his in a can of beer. i turned to writing to save myself and to give meaning to my experiences. writing was an act of survival. but then to discover it could be a possible career option having grown up never reading any latina writers i thought they did not write and publish books so i had assumed i could not either.
and then i met my english professor if they can do it then you can do it. usually myn stories were about mexico. i now have lived in the us longer only holding onto my native country to keep it from floating into the midst of the memory by writing about it i could explain mexico in a way i could not in the real life despite everything i have gained by emigrating i also lost my relationship with my maternal grandmother my aunts and uncles and cousins and friends in my native country itself the mexican way of life is so different n now my spanish
broken my catholic religion was little existent i just knew little pieces of history and geography and as a mystery to me to mistry and abuse me and with childish hopeam dreaming of the day it would change from the better in the day that my parents would change. on the first return visit three years earlier everybody uptreated me like a foreigner to be t americanized. to those who had seen me grow up i was no longer mexican enough. and then i wasn't american enough either in for years i have struggled to fit in and learn the language and culture and find my way but no matter how hard i s tried i still felt like a foreigner.
so i took refuge in my writing. to create a bridge that connected both countries and cultures for hope someday to a place where i finally belong thank you. [applause] >> thank you for having me here with these wonderful people and with the life of my family and sometimes 2014 the images to get to europe were broadcast but what troubled me then and troubled me now just
a faceless man just driven by pure hunger and the difficulty around ite, suggest from wherever we may be. that is t a very basic moral level it is something that i thought we could do. so just as donald trump announces candidacy and racism in the same take, i decided to write three books and then i added one more. so two of those i intended and
then to allow people to tell the story those that are more similar to me. and in the spring of 92 and with that region and then eventually migrated to canada. where they have healthcare. imagine that. [laughter] and then it was always fascinating to me how to maintain coherence and my assumption is that complicated traumatic from one place to another and when people carry
over with that ethical system so i wanted to write about that and to think about the world before and after. the bookak is not a memoir specifically but my father likes to talk to people to tell the stories sometimes they sit next to me to talk. [laughter] and of course and up talking nor is it he can bear the thought they have nothing to say to each other.
everyone he assumes has a story to tell. my father expects other people to engage in the world but somehow delegated him to conversation and with that storytelling and in 2007 me and my wife and her newborn daughter went to visit her parents for christmas mine came from canada and then they got along with them and then they spend which frequently gets together with aunts and uncles and cousins that overtime absorbed into the kinship it with that practice chof an african-american family and they like this part of this but one thing they did
not do as much with my family always did and didn't spend a lot of time telling stories but the history for whatever reason is not available but as we walk one day towards fort dickenshe with the freedom loving united states and then my father said to my wife tell me about your father on - - to me about your family. [laughter] and cannot fully satisfy his curiosity and with that everlasting calamity there were some disasters to tell themem about. and i found that perplexing
for nothing bad has happened and how those stories could be forthcoming so what do we have to talk about quirks of nothing bad happens than what could happen cracks. [laughter] what is the story of nothing happening cracks that my parents and that then feeling compelled and i said to my wife and anyone willing to submit them the various structure in the world of reality and then to understand why he was asked a question like that and then to happen with a shorthand by way of
outlining the ruptures with the wars and injuries and the struggles of danger and despair then has to have that catastrophe and that which could not be narrated the family without a catastrophe is not contextualize because it was an impossible position. and of those initiatives comingts from tragedy with the possibility it will never be resolved it might be a trap but also allows them to escape if you were luckyop enough then you get to tell the story.
and then something else of the present emergency and then the migration.d and then the defining moment of the 21st century. and that the next election will be defined and it is an important issue for americans. what would cause someone to take their baby and to cross the mediterranean are all the way across central america to risk death cracks so on the other side of which what
causes people to move cracks the rich countries have stolen the future of the poor countries. the because they have left them no choice. and then to get into this matter one day in the eighties a british man came up to him and put a finger in his face. why are you here cracks why are you in my country cracks and the only life and then in
london. but now we have come here to collect. we are here these days they complain loudly about migration and then to steal their treasure and having drawn up maps between those communities.un and what that meant in our culture and then with our raw materials and labor they ask us to go back and then they
continue stealing resources and then around us and then to arrive at the borders they need us to fix their computer but it took our best and brightest and then again to work for them. desperate r and starving and my families have lived all of the birth to england and india and the united states and back
why do we keep moving cracks thank you. [applause] >> to a lesser degree certainly the case of these moments so what are those unique challenges that youou face writing about your own family? and then questioning the choices your parents make? i don't want the story just to be about me because when we
talk about immigration it isn't just the individual immigrants but the entire families. and why it happens too one persony breaks the entire family unit. and then to capture the journey of my family across the border i was very aware about writing about my family and the journey because of the choices that my parents make because through the years i have learned to see things differently than when i was a child for when my father came here when i was two years old and then my mother came when i was four and i was left behind in mexico i did not understand why they had left.
i n had no concept that we were the second poorest state in mexico i wasn't aware of lack of jobs for lack of opportunities. did not understand why they immigrated but they left is what i thought they did not love me enough to stay with me or take me with them they took me a long time to understand why they made those traces i had to live with the consequences of those choices and that meant i was growing up without a father or mother because they had to leave me to take care of me. so i did not understand so writing these memoirs helped me to understand more.
and then for a long time i was very respectful - - resentful for putting me through childhood have so many years to be forgotten but then to put me to that situation but then when i go back to mexico i understand i am still sufferingep from the trauma of separation that that was the only way to get where i am and then trying to get by that is
full of corruption and oppression so now i can look back and forgive my parents for putting me through what they put me through and i forgive them because now because i can provide for my children in a way they could not provide for me. and now i don't have to walk away from my kids because of my parents to find a better life for them. and also at risk when they had put my life at risk across the us border perk why don't have to do that as a parent and that's one of the greatest gifts my parents gave me have to be in that situation they were in. [applause]
but that is vastly overlapping in the same language and aculture as it were those social abilities. we share that experience with time and place and then to be fractured there would have been a factory i was not a professional i had not lost my contacts and one of the ways and to build those bridges between the new country in the old country as they try to
listen to fox news but if you want to see what family means go too a place called friendship park on the us-mexico border just south of san diego actually goes down the section of california with a smaller stretch of land than ethe us government decided if you live on the other side of the vote border you could meet them face-to-face and in the earlier years if you didn't have the papers to cross over then you could come back into
the us you could go to friendship park and have a visit with your family. now there a has been a fence builtpa and border patrol to make it impossible for people to meet their families. and then to put your face up to the fence so i spent two weeks there last year and one member of the family to go over the border and in my book ordinary heroes and what little money that they save up
but a mexican man came up who had not seen his mother in 17 years and he goes to thend fence and his mother is on the other side. and he said i could smell her and feel her breath on my face and told her how much he loved her and how much he missed her. she told him how much she loved him and misses him and in the end they cannot hug each other but did not space is only large enough to put your pinky through so the mom puts her pinky through that is
all they are allowed all along the fence mothers and children and siblings just touching pinkies. if ever had somebody in your family go down to friendship park when they keep you from your family and there are laws. and that's what keeps you from your families it was the most hopeful reporting of my career. the expression of the heart.
[applause] >> you write our history with the home that could never be had is that the inevitable part of the migration were these parallel lives wondering whaten things would have been like in a different circumstance and then in my book but what happens is migration and immigrants and ferefugees and it is always dramatic to some extent them
think what makes that impossible is that traumatic rupture into the before and the after and the struggle is not entirely traumatic but pthere are ways to use this productively trying to find a new type of unity but then i go back home to chicago. but somehow that unity that i experienced and that total presence in the world. i have no desire.
this is how i feel that just like my early home so the possibility of the home not to be available present to all of us. >> for years i was jealous the place that now none - - that meant home we moved around a lot as well and i felt they had something that i could not have. so discover that conversation in which she asked you think things would beenou different do you think we would all be together as a family cracks that just a longing for something that is lost. >> when i was younger i used
to have this conversation what my life might have been like if we stayed in mexico if my parents had not emigrated or broken up once we got here in the family that we used to be as opposed to the family that we are now. m and now i have a different perspective because i have answered uncles that stay there and i remember my mother in mexico she would always try to get her brother to come out here because her brother was very poor living in a one-room shack with seven children and could barely afford to feed them and my mother would say
go to the us so you can make familyo support your and my uncle would only say i would rather be poor but together and he refused to leave. but when i go to mexico when i look at myoo cousins who did not finish elementary school because he pulled them out because they were old enough to start working to help him put food on the table i think of the consequence of his choice versus my parents choice to immigrate and find more opportunities for us. so i don't have these nostalgic memories of my childhood or to fantasize what my life would have been like because i see it with that
poverty and i remember and i know that's over life would have been like. and i have an interesting experience because i was recently published in mexico for the first time i have been published here for the last 13 years but in mexico i just got published two years ago for the first time. i went to mexico to do some events and coming back to my native country as a published author and most mexican writers are from the upper class. i was sitting limit on - - sitting there with them thinking if i had not emigrated i would be there made right now not sharing a stage with them. and that is when i was grateful for what my parents
did for me and what we wentt through it is a pain that i still carry with me and with that reality of where i am now and where i could have ended up in things were different. >> your book is explicitly called a manifesto written in sorrow and rage and hope and i think we you have shared so far we've got the rage in the sorro sorrow. [laughter] so where is the hope cracks out of these three emotions if they come together. [laughter] >> look around the conversation to be hopeful but
the fear of migrants doing more damage than to have the biggest goal from british history. but this is where the hope comes in. to colonialism and climate change because they have no options to drown in those countries that one people move this is the happy ending of my story great immigration helps everyone that the migrants move to because the rich are
not making enough babies the united states would collapse and the reason that they are good at importing the talent that is needed skilled and unskilled and new york has never been more prosperous or dynamicn and you can see it in the great cities of the world and then never had such a great choice of restaurants to eat. [laughter]
but economically it makes sense. and then to give out more in benefits but in 15 years you only get 80 cents on the dollar and the only thing is immigration that can save you. and the anchor of the workforce in greater numbers and gets good for the migrants it's literally a matter of life and death those that migrate for economic reasons
and also creates from those countries because if you really want to have them let people from those countries move and then send money back those 10200-dollar money orders that they send they go directly to their families to help with an education or a mother with a hospital bill to build a school or to build a home so with the $700 billion that's more of all the foreign aid in the world.
word burden because i feel as and immigrant writer i have more responsibility to speak up from a community and then i feel why can't i just be a writer? why do i always have to be the immigrant writer cracks and i have created some challenges in the way that i see myself as a writer or how i fit in to american literature and then i remind myself that the immigrant story is the american story. so yes i do fit into american literature and i feel that i have been given a gift and i need to make sure that i use this gift for the opportunity
that i have to be published and to raise my voice for those who have gone unheard. and i take that responsibility very seriously. i also feel here in this country we tend to judge immigrants by why what one immigrant dies usually in a negative way if they do something bad then the whole immigrant community does. i would like to reverse that. why can't we judge all the good things that immigrants do cracks individually what we do the skills and talents if you
can look at one immigrant to say the immigrant community is doingg this. let's celebrate the contributions of that is something i would like to see more of. but if we are going to mupresent our community let's also represent our community when we do something wonderful. [applause] >> one of the projects i was working on and from migrating is how did you get here?
but as a teenager and then to end up in college in iowa and giving presentations to the trump family after obtaining her business degree so after her presentation he came up to her and she is good-looking and he said what is your story start from the end? and to me that is symptomatic of the model of a representation of experience where all that matters is that you are here no now. no history or no story or pastor or other place or time. so of course in his case it's
everything including that so as a writer so everything i agree with again because there is a situation when trying to do this i speak for some people who have a similar experience. but i also feel a need to cover the whole range. not justna where we are at right now, but how we got here. there are a lot of books that could come out of that narration is migration if you take them out for him literature. [laughter]
it isn't into racism but we also discover maguey does discriminate against poor immigrants and in the history of this country how we have discriminated and just one quick example is the irish that were discriminated because they were poor catholic drunk irish and now they are white and now they are in mainstream america where before they were not wanted here and also to religion to play a big part. >> in the 17 hundreds the group of people that they speak their language and then
[laughter] don't be in survivor mode that learn how to thrive. that no matter what obstacles come your way don't just survive but thrive and rise above it all and most of all don't forget where you come from because where you come from is something to be celebrated don't never be ashamed of where you first started. [applause] >> along those lines get as many languages as you can. [applause] >> read read read.
>> i'm not immigrant but my husband is and something that spoke to me causing me to worry about your relations i live on a small farm in maryland and whenever i thought about home but my parents had to sell that eventually and part of my sense of home was gone for ever so that's how i would connect with your story so if you consider that relating to people that are not immigrants that people at some point lose their home or parts of their
home and how you can connect your story with people likeik me that have lost a certain sense of their home. >> first of all we really need to remember that we are all human beings it's easy to get lost in what makes us different. so let's celebrate instead what can access. and i would like to say for me to be called an immigrant it is a human experience. so that's how we connect and i