Her story is similar to those of the thousands of illegal immigrants who cross the border into America every day in search of political or economic refuge. In 1988, a woman in her late thirties named Yamileth obtains a passport, leaves her home, and makes a daring, dangerous trip from war-torn Nicaragua through Central America to the United States to join her family.
In Los Angeles, Yamileth must find a place to live and a job to support her family, yet keep secret the fact that she entered the country as an illegal alien. She must adapt to new customs and the flood of Latino and Asian immigrants. She must live among the people of California, who in 1994 approved Proposition 187 with the intent to deny undocumented immigrants education, social services, and health care.
Yamileth's daily experiences mirror the hopes and frustrations of women and men who must confront new cultural, economic, and political environments. Author Dianne Walta Hart's long and close relationship with Yamileth allows her to present Yamileth's cultural struggles and personal development in poignant narrative and passages in Yamileth's own words.
From start to finish, Undocumented in L.A.: An Immigrant's Story is testimonial literature at its best. This eye-opening work will show the reader the opposition and difficulties undocumented immigrants face in a nation that at first beckons them with freedom, then rejects them with unwelcoming borders and restrictive laws. Undocumented in L.A.: An Immigrant's Story
is an excellent resource for courses in immigration, political science, and social and cultural studies.
Fleeing a generally bleak existence in Nicaragua, Yamileth shepherds her sister's children and her son Miguel over a treacherous route to California. She reaches Los Angeles in 1989 as the local economy sours and outcry against illegal immigrants like themselves swells. A Sandinista supporter who fought for a new life in Nicaragua, she is nonplussed by everyday violence in the U.S. Worries about the children, difficulty finding work, and the threat of deportation darken her dreams of a safe haven. Dianne Walta Hart, her unofficial American sponsor, weaves together Yamileth's words with commentary pointing up inevitable culture clashes. This is a rough-edged, authentic look at the marginal lives led by many illegal immigrants who live among us.
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