As America celebrates her birthday, some people will be more grateful than others for the blessings they have found in this country. They are the immigrants, many of whom have escaped war, oppression, or grinding poverty. While they quickly realize none of our streets are paved in gold, they still are relieved to be alive and free to reach for their dreams. Many who remain in poverty or have suffered a difficult transition or other hardships are still thankful to be in America. The illegal immigrants often brave horrors and death to come here and live a marginal existence, still believing it is worth it. Today, those who struggle here have help through organizations such as the International Institute of St. Louis, The Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Service, The Refuge and Immigrant Family Center in Seattle and many others across the country. Each of the immigrants has a story.
–Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Nazario who traced young Enrique’s dangerous trip from Honduras via the tops of trains and hitch hiking to find his mother working somewhere in the U.S.
–They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky by Benjamin Ajak, Benson Deng, Alephonsian Deng, three orphaned boys who escaped the Sudan War and came to amazing America
–God Grew Tired of Us by John Bul Dau who was separated from his family during the war in Sudan and spent years in refugee camps before coming to the U.S. and experiencing culture shock
–The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir by Kao Kalia Yang whose family escaped from Laos to a refugee camp in Thailand and then went on to adapt to the upper Midwest, a vastly different culture that did not understand them
–Breaking Through by Francisco Jimenez whose family of illegal migrant workers was sent back to Mexico only to return to California where life was hard and they felt a definite culture clash (YA)
–When I was Puerto Rican by Esmerelda Santiago whose mother took her children from poverty in rural Puerto Rico to the poverty of big city Brooklyn, NY, but the author succeeds as she struggles with the transition, going on to attend Harvard on scholarship