Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Denied, Detained, Deported: Stories from the Dark Side of American Immigration by Ann Bausum

Immigration policies have not always represented the ideals of freedom and this nonfiction text shows the cycle of prejudice, fears, and exploitation that have been directed at marginalized immigrants in American history. The text is only an introduction and focuses on major immigration policies and attitudes that affected Chinese, Russians, Jewish, Japanese, and Mexican immigrants negatively. Grade 5 students study immigration and this is a good text for research and a look at laws that have not reflected the rights guaranteed in the Constitution. The author's message is to learn from the past and stop the cycle of exclusion and exploitation that is directed at those looking for freedom and a better life.

The primary resources and photos enhance the text and the timeline, resource guide, and bibliography help the reader continue research using other sources. While the Russian, Jewish, and Japanese section follows particular families or people and their struggles with anti-immigration laws, the Chinese and Mexican sections are more factual and not as interesting. The personal touch adds some emotion to the fates and shows how difficult it was for them to overcome the injustices inflicted by the government. I thought that African Americans and Native Americans might get a section of their own or be added with some of the other laws that affected them as well, but they follow the laws moreso than ethnic groups. Arab Americans are briefly mentioned and the current immigration mess with Mexico is not covered at all as the book is five years old and written before the influx of thousands of Mexican children illegally crossing the border.

This morning the paper had information on a migrant crisis in Indonesia where hundreds of Rohingya and Bangladeshi are fleeing their countries from religious persecution. The Syrian Civil War has displaced millions of people. Immigration is a global problem and not just unique to the United States. The arguments are similar with people from the existing countries feeling threatened by loss of jobs, food shortages, and other economic factors. Racism and national security are tied up in the conflict as well. This book doesn't give the cons to immigration for the most part. It recognizes it in the Introduction, but doesn't support it throughout the text. The main focus is for immigration as a right to freedom in the constitution and a study of immigration policies that are short-sighted and cruel versus humane.

This text could be coupled with picture and fiction books to enhance the message of laws that are unjust. The book, "Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation," by Duncan Tonatiuh shows how a Mexican family used the courts to get unjust immigration laws changed. The fiction chapter book, "Esperanza Rising," by Pam Munoz Ryan, shows the difficulties and poverty that migrant works experience in the U.S. "Barbed Wire Baseball," by Marissa Moss, shows the Japanese community building a baseball stadium at a internment camp to give them hope during a grim time. The fiction book, "A Diamond in the Desert," by Kathryn Fitzmaurice describes life in a Japanese internment camp. "The Harmonica," by Tony Johnston is a picture book on the Holocaust. The fiction book, "Number the Stars," is one of many Holocaust fiction books. Patricia Polacco is my go-to author for Russian culture in picture books. A fiction book is "Breaking Stalin's Nose," by Eugene Yelchin on Communist Russia. Further information on the Russian revolution is in the excellent book, "The Romanov Family," by Candace Fleming. Chinese picture book, "Coolies," covers the migration during the 1800s and a fiction book on it is "The Iron Dragon Never Sleeps," by Stephen Krensky.

4 Smileys

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