“Compelling, honest, and personal, this is a must-read for anyone interested in the immigration debate.”



“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


“To let the Dreamers speak for themselves” is the goal veteran journalist Truax sets for herself in this account of 10 undocumented young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. She puts a human face on the debate around the proposed DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act. To this end, Truax recounts both the empowerment of activism and traumatic events, including a precipitous deportation and a suicide. Political figures whose actions or inactions affect the lives of the “Dreamers” appear as well: President Obama, often referred to as “Deporter in Chief”; Sheriff Joseph Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz., known for draconian enforcement of immigration laws; Illinois Senator Richard Durbin, who’s introduced several versions of the DREAM Act since 2001; and Mohammad Abdollahi, who leads the DREAM Activist Undocumented Students Action and Resource Network. 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. At its core, Truax’s book is a severe reproach to U.S. immigration law; the appendix, a précis of the 2011 DREAM Act, illustrates the succor it would bring to some but how problematic the policy is for many others. (Mar.)

–Publishers Weekly


In this English-language edition of her first book, an immigrant, LA–based reporter tells the intimate stories of the young people who, by no choice of their own, live without legal status in the United States.

With both political parties posturing on the issue of immigration reform and with the consequences of the president’s controversial executive action still unfolding, Truax’s subject could hardly be timelier. And it’s impossible not to sympathize with the subgroup of the estimated 11 million illegals living in America she profiles here: young people boldly declaring their undocumented status, bringing dangerous attention to their precarious lives, and organizing to encourage passage of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act. Truax showcases the personal histories of the Dreamers living under the constant threat of deportation and denied access to educational opportunities, housing, permits, licenses and career paths many take for granted. Here, they “speak for themselves,” relating tales of fear, frustration, courage, achievement and assertiveness: the Vietnamese honor student; the Mexican high schooler teaching English to her neighbors; the Texas student leader setting up a Dream Alliance chapter. Having covered this story for years and earned their trust, Truax introduces us to the places Dreamers go for support—the Food Closet at UCLA, El Hormiguero in the San Fernando Valley—to the political actions and to training sessions held in various states, to activists and politicians sympathetic to the cause—Gov. Jerry Brown, California state representative Gil Cedillo, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin—and even to some immigration opponents such as Maricopa County’s notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio. There is, of course, a serious economic, legal, even moral argument against immigration on the Dreamers’ terms. But Truax focuses solely on the struggle and challenges they face today, and she does so in a way that leaves a mark on any reader with a conscience.

A forthright, moving piece of advocacy journalism.

Kirkus Review

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