Dreams and Nightmares: I Fled Alone to the United States When I Was Fourteen
Team Member: Jessica Pauszek
Stephen Parks wrote -
We are seeking your help to support the publication of a story that documents the strength and courage of an undocumented Gautemalan girl, who after tremendous suffering, crossed the border into the United States and created a succesful life for herself. The book will be published by New City Community Press (newcitycommunitypress.com)
At a time when undocumented childrend and workers are being harshly cartooned in the media, we believe this story is vitally important. All profits from the book will go to the author, Liliana, with free and at-cost copies being provided to public schools and documenation centers across the country.The book will also be used as part of campaigns to support the rights of undocumented children and workers.
Here are the details of her story: When Liliana was fourteen years old, she escaped horrific violence within her family and community in northern Guatemala and headed out alone for the United States. On her trip through Mexico she was robbed by narcos in the mountains of Chiapas, rode the boxcars of La Bestia, and organized thirty of her fellow Central American bus passengers to convince the Federales who had arrested them to allow them to continue on their way. Finally, she made it to the US border, where she was caught by Immigration in the Arizona Desert. After four months in a detention center, she was placed in foster care while the courts decided whether to deport her. She spent a year in a horrendous foster situation and eventually landed on her feet with a family that loves and protects her. After having to recount her story of abuse several times, the judge determined it was too dangerous for her to return home and finally granted her a green card. She is now in high school, while she works to support her family back home and makes plans to go on to nursing school.
When Liliana was apprehended at the border, her official legal status assigned by U.S. Customs and Border Protection was Unaccompanied Alien Child—an undocumented minor who is traveling without parents or family members. Each year since 2013, an average of 50,000 such unaccompanied children have been arrested at the U.S. Border, and their fate is decided by the immigration system. In this time when the issue of undocumented immigrants is causing great divisions within our country, much is written about them; but little is told by them in their own voice. Liliana’s story is uniquely hers, but it is also the story of thousands of children who have fled violence and poverty in their home country to make a safer life in the United States. Her story needs to be part of our national conversation.
The book will be published by New City Community Press, a press dedicated to ensuring the stories of those such as Liliana are heard. (See newcitycommunitypress.com). As a community press, New City does not profit from its publications – no funds are used for staff salaries, etc. Instead, all profits go to the author. In addition, the books are sold at cost to public schools and non-profit organizations to insure wide readership. In this case, copies will also be donated to the immigration centers where many of these children are initially brought. Finally, to insure children like Liliana will be able to read this important story, the book will be published in English and Spanish