Emma Lazarus in her poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty wrote: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Bedros, my father might have seen those words in 1914 when he landed at Ellis Island and Araxie, my mother too, seven years later when she arrived. My parents were highly motivated to leave Armenia, their ancestral homeland in Eastern Turkey. Genocide does a lot to focus the mind on survival. For them, and millions of others, America was a safe haven. Today, violence. economic terror and hunger drive many to come to these shores. Immigration reform is talked about but little happens. NAFTA and rapacious capitalist policies have pauperized many people in Mexico and Central America. The trek north is dangerous. Women and children are particularly vulnerable. The journey requires tenacity and courage.
Sonia Nazario, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the Polk Award, has reported for The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times. Her book Enrique’s Journey was a bestseller.