Pulitzer Prize winner Sonia Nazario discusses her views on immigration

There have been a lot of great speakers on campus these past two weeks, including Isabel Wilkerson last week, Friday’s fascinating IPE symposium on the future of China’s economy with some of the best minds of Stanford, MIT, and Harvard, and the myAMERICA? symposium that’s been going on the end of this week. Here is a run down of a lecture from the latter in case you missed it.

Last night, Sonia Nazario spoke at Dana Auditorium to address “America’s immigration dilemma,” for the myAMERICA? symposium.

The bulk of her lecture focused on the journey of a boy named Enrique from Honduras to the United States that inspired her Pulitzer prize winning Los Angeles Times feature series, which she eventually developed into the book Enrique’s Journey.

Her description of the treacherous journey was informed not only by extensive interviews with Enrique but also by the two journeys she personally took on 7 trains from Honduras to the border, following Enrique’s exact route.

Image used in Nazario’s slideshow depicting immigrants riding trains to make the long journey to the US

Nazario had a graphic slideshow demonstrating the perilous reality of this journey with young amputees, children begging for food and water, and the gangs that assault the travelers throughout their journey.  In addition to physical risks, Nazario  experienced recurring nightmares, which required six months of therapy for them to subside.  Despite all of these risks, she met people on trains who had made this same journey over 20 times, demonstrating what she termed “the enormous desperation that drives people [to embark on] this modern Odyssey.”

After describing this journey to America, Nazario offered her views on immigration policy.  She believes that both conservative policies to increase border security and liberal policies that create a path towards citizenship encourage rather than discourage unsustainable immigration.  Nazario thinks that the goal of US immigration policy should be to slow the rate of illegal entry into the country with targeted foreign aid, micro loan projects, and even student-run infrastructure projects, which encourage job creation in migrant workers’ home countries.

Readers, what do you think of her suggested immigration policies or US immigration policy in general (such as the recent Arizona immigration bill or Obama’s new immigration policy)?

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