Book puts new face to immigration



Families and boarder residents who live on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border gathered last year along a chain link fence separating the two countries. Baxter says “Enriques’s Journey” allowed her to feel a newfound compassion for the individuals who struggle to cross the border

NICOLE BAXTER, Opinion Columnist

One book had the power to completely change my perspective on illegal immigration — within the first five pages.

Sonia Nazario, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, “Enrique’s Journey,” reveals some brutal and terrifying information about immigration as she follows a Honduran boy to the United States as he tries to reunite with his mother.

Most students at UNI are white people from Iowa and perhaps have little interest in migrants. And for those students, picking up a book about immigration is not going to cross their mind because they feel their lives are unaffected by migrants.

Believe it or not, immigrants affect your day to day life more than you think, but regardless of that, we are morally obligated to be aware of the struggle these people face as they venture north.

Recently, illegal immigration has garnered an even more negative reaction due to particular “solutions” regarding border security, and because of that, I believe there has never been a more vital time to open our eyes to the facts and hardships of immigration.

After being exposed to “Enrique’s Journey,” I felt motivated to share this inspiring and enlightening story of a migrant who risked everything to make a better life for his family.

So few Americans understand the root of immigration and, therefore, view the presences of immigrants negatively.

What Nazario does is present a factual story in a way that does not force you to change your mind; she simply presents verifiable information that allows you to open your eyes and feel compassion for these individuals. Then, whatever you think or do with that information is up to you.

Our view on illegal immigration is not going to change overnight, but it is certainly not going to change if we don’t think about it in a new light.

In order to make  progress, we must broaden our perspective and listen to the facts. This book offers an insight into the dangers that migrants endure, all in hopes that they make it to America.

Jennifer Cooley, professor of languages and literatures,  hosted a community reading of “Enrique’s Journey.” She feels that “immigration is a human issue that impacts us all and that if anything is to change, it will only be the result of a wide range of efforts from people who decide to act upon their responses to the book.”

To echo Cooley’s sentiment, I believe this book is only as powerful as the amount of people who read it and begin to understand the unspoken hardships of immigration. There is no solution without recognition, that is why I am so passionate about sharing this book.

We must all recognize the issue at hand and come together to fix it. Immigration is not a national problem, it is an international cry for help and America is not listening.

How much longer will we fight immigration before we realize that our assistance is needed more than our resistance?

Don’t miss the opportunity to listen to Nazario speak about her book and immigration reform tonight in Lang Auditorium at 7 p.m.