Children and the immigration debate: A sneak peek at FROM NORTH TO SOUTH

From Children's Book Press

Lately, it seems as if immigration is all over the news. Yet despite all the debate going on, the experience of children who are caught up in this issue is often overlooked.

That is, until now. The recent incident at a Washington DC-area school, in which a second grader told First Lady Michelle Obama that her mother was here illegally, has sparked quite a buzz among the talking heads in the media.

Author René Colato Laínez knows about this issue all too well. His new book with Children’s Book Press, From North to South / Del Norte al Sur, deals with the experience of family separation due to a parent's precarious immigration status. The book will be released in September of 2010.

René has written many children’s books about the immigrant experience. Born in El Salvador, he fled his civil war–ravaged country as an adolescent and entered the United States an undocumented immigrant. Now a US citizen, René is an elementary school teacher in Los Angeles, where, everyday, he sees the harsh realities that impact immigrants and their children.

In the book’s introduction, René writes:

“I am an elementary school teacher. My students’ and my own immigrant experience have been the inspiration for many of my books. One day, one of my students was crying because her father had been deported to Tijuana, Mexico. I discovered that many of the other children had cousins, uncles, or neighbors who had been deported, too. Most of my students had been born in the United States, and it is hard for them to see their loved ones forced to leave this country. For these children, family separation is a traumatic experience.”

Clearly, there will be and should be more discussion about this issue in the months to come. Check back often here at the Many Voices blog, where we’ll be posting more features, news, and information about From North to South.

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