Beacon Press: Dreamers
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An Immigrant Generation's Fight for Their American Dream

Author: Eileen Truax

Dreamers is a movement book for the generation brought to the United States as children—and now fighting to live here legally
Of the approximately twelve million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, as many as two million came as children. They grow up here, going to elementary, middle, and high school, and then the country they call home won’t—in most states—offer financial aid for college and they’re unable to be legally employed. In 2001, US senator Dick Durbin introduced the DREAM Act to Congress, an initiative that would allow these young people to become legal residents if they met certain requirements.
And now, more than ten years later, in the face of congressional inertia and furious opposition from some, the DREAM Act has yet to be passed. But recently, this young generation has begun organizing, and with their rallying cry “Undocumented, Unapologetic, and Unafraid” they are the newest face of the human rights movement. In Dreamers, Eileen Truax illuminates the stories of these men and women who are living proof of a complex and sometimes hidden political reality that calls into question what it truly means to be American.
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“Compelling, honest, and personal, this is a  must-read for anyone interested in the immigration debate.”

A forthright, moving piece of advocacy journalism.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Truax succeeds in conveying how a shadow status permeates the lives of all the young people profiled here, with education, employment opportunities, and essential social services severely limited or unavailable.”
Publishers Weekly

“Truax’s informative, engaging read provides a new perspective on this country’s ongoing immigration debate.”
Library Journal

“Eileen Truax offers a gripping, close-up account of the lives of Dreamers—those young undocumented people who President Obama argued are American ‘in every single way but one: on paper.’ Through in-depth interviews and participation in their organizations and events, Truax captures the Dreamers’ passions and hopes, as well as the heartbreaking challenges that our country’s policies impose on them. She also paints a convincing portrait of the painstaking work and heady successes of one of the country’s most important movements for social change in the twenty-first century.”
—Aviva Chomsky, author of Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal


Review: Publishers Weekly - December 15, 2014
“Truax succeeds in conveying how a shadow status permeates the lives of all the young people profiled here, with education, employment opportunities, and essential social services severely limited or unavailable.”
Review: Kirkus Reviews - December 14, 2014
“A forthright, moving piece of advocacy journalism.”
From the Introduction: "We Are All Dreamers"

THERE ARE ABOUT ELEVEN MILLION undocumented people living in the United States. You can’t tell who they are just by looking at them, but we know they are here. As you walk down the street, ride the subway, or drive on the freeway, you may see them coming home from work, picking up their kids at school, waiting at the bus stop, cooking or cleaning rooms at fi ve-star hotels, or even running a little business out on the corner. While it’s impossible to pinpoint exactly who’s undocumented and who’s not by sight, we know one thing with certainty: our daily lives wouldn’t be the same without them.

The work performed by undocumented immigrants is now a firmly entrenched and even essential part of the nation’s economy, but attempts to resolve their status have merely turned them into
political pawns. No president has dared to propose a process of massive deportation, nor has any administration openly recognized the essential role this cheap, effi cient labor force plays in the national economy. Undocumented immigrants have become the political currency of private negotiations between Democrats and Republicans, legislators and government agencies, and in campaigns for office. And except for when election time rolls around and minority voters must be courted, especially Latinos, immigration reform is a hot potato no politician wants to touch.

The amnesty law passed in 1986, designed to solve the illegal immigration problem, went only halfway: it granted legal residency to three million people but didn’t put effective mechanisms into place to ensure that the situation wouldn’t repeat itself. It didn’t establish programs to hire foreign workers in the sectors of the economy that needed them most, even though there would still be
a demand for their labor. It didn’t develop effective strategies to control illegal crossings along the border with Mexico. No sanctions were enacted to punish employers who hired undocumented workers, and the labor resulting from the exchange of falsified documents has become an essential moving part of the national economy’s machinery.

Almost three decades later, the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States fluctuates between eleven and twelve million; six in ten are from Mexico. Many of them work in agriculture, manufacturing, construction, or the service sector. Undocumented workers make up almost 5 percent of the civilian labor force. They are men, women, and teens who came here one, two, fifteen, or twenty years ago. Sometimes they stay here for relatively short periods before returning to their countries of origin to be with their families for a while, or to try and make a go of it there. But they end up coming north again because, even though they must live in the shadows, under the constant threat of deportation, they can earn enough money here to provide the loved ones they left behind a better standard of living.

I remember a conversation I had with a woman who worked in a garment factory in Los Angeles while I was researching a story on sweatshops. The working conditions at the place were deplorable: employees worked twelve-hour shifts with no overtime pay, making seven dollars an hour, one dollar less than the offi cial minimum wage in California at the time, in 2008. When I asked her why she put up with it, she said she had done the same work in her hometown of Puebla, Mexico, under the same or even worse conditions but had earned only fifty pesos a day, or less than five dollars. “It’s the same exploitation, but here it pays better. I can support my
children on what I make here,” she explained.

After efforts to heighten security along the Mexican border in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, immigrants who occasionally used to return to their countries of origin stopped
making those trips. The journey back was becoming increasingly dangerous and costly. The routes that undocumented immigrants had followed before, along the beaches in California or across the river in Texas, had been redirected through the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico, where organized-crime gangs were very active. Over the past decade, deaths of migrants from Mexico
and Central America due to exposure and dehydration have increased in alarming numbers, as have kidnappings, extortions, and murders. Faced with this grim reality, many undocumented
immigrants have chosen to take the risk just once and then pay someone to bring their family members across—women, adolescents, even small children—so they can live together permanently
on this side of the border.

For the undocumented immigrants’ countries of origin, the immigrants’ presence in the United States has signifi cant economic and political repercussions. For countries that heavily depend on
the monies sent home, such as Mexico and El Salvador, the migration of their countrymen provides a major source of relief on two fronts: the dollars sent home help alleviate the effects of high
unemployment and general lack of opportunity in the local communities. And the migrants’ mere absence provides economic relief to the state, which does not have to provide basic services to the millions of citizens not residing in the country, such as public education for hundreds of thousands of school-age children, a cost now assumed by communities in the United States.

The migrants’ countries of origin tend to wash their hands of whatever may happen to their citizens once they set foot on US soil, as if their own governments no longer bore any responsibility for them. Far from recognizing the double sacrifice that migrants make by taking the risk to seek out a better life and then generously supporting their communities back home, people in their countries of origin often refer to them on Internet pages or in public debates as cowards and traitors.

We Are All Dreamers

A Student in Need

Undocumented and Unafraid: Out of the Shadows

Dream Seller

Back to a Strange World

California Dreaming

Dreaming in Arizona

Dying for a Dream

Deferred Action: A Temporary Reprieve

Undocuqueers: Coming Out, Twice


The Fight for Their Dreams





ISBN: 978-080703033-2
Publication Date: 3/10/2015
Size:6 x 9 Inches (US)
Price:  $16.00
Format: Paperback
Availability: In stock.