“Whose Child am I?” Book Review

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Updated: May 16, 2022
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In the book Whose Child Am I? By Susan J Terrio, she tells a captivating story about the United States and how they got into the business of capturing lonely undocumented children. Terrio goes into depth about the children and how they got placed in the custody of the state. Not only does she use the exact words from the immigrants themselves but also from the judges and immigrant attorneys. “A vulnerable population that has been hidden from public scrutiny and absent from immigration debates for years suddenly became breaking news in 2014, when shocking pictures of kids in detention centers began circulating in the media.

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The number of children detained at the Southwest border since October 2013 had surpassed 57,000 by July 2014 and was climbing rapidly.” p.4 Terrio provides a graphic insight of just what goes on in the lives of these immigrants which they are running from, the thoughts of the court officials and the system of immigration that the U.S manages. Susan believes that the U.S. immigration system is shadowy and doesn’t want it to go unnoticed, she provides outstanding examples of the hardships put on these juvenile immigrants who are just in search of the “American Dream.”

Maribel a young teenage girl picked up and left Honduras leaving behind a mother and sisters in fear for her life because her father was an alcoholic, abused her and almost killed her. Ernesto was another from Honduras trying to run from abuse as well, but also wanting more than the poverty he was in. There was Abraham a transgender running from being disowned and even killed because of who he was. Lastly, Corina the youngest of her siblings and just didn’t want the abuse they were receiving. These kids willing to do whatever, abandon their families, go alone all in chase of just a slightly better opportunity. Some even payed coyotes who were crooks and some joining other groups trying to escape all to get to the other side to be detained.

Terrio visited court hearings, visited detainment centers and gathered stories from the children and federal officials. She went to 19 of the 39 detainment centers. After detainment comes placement, these children open up to her expressing the violent inside of these placement centers, remembering harsh times. “Nearly every young migrant described the windowless rooms, metal cots, lack of bedding and harsh lights in CBP stations. They remembered the freezing temperatures, the bad food — especially the ubiquitous frozen sandwiches—and the gnawing hunger because most were given just one meal a day. Two Salvadorians, Isabela and her younger sister, were made to feel like ‘trash.’ They were filthy and hungry and not allowed to lie down for the duration of their thirty-six hour stay.” p.48 Some children explain that they are told to lie about their age and race just for a better placement. Harsh treatment turns the best kids, into some of the bad kids. There are kids that even volunteer to be deported just because they are being treated so poorly in their placements. These poor kids have no help while in these conditions, some gain mental disorders. Some of these kids have little to no knowledge of the english language yet are expected to understand what goes on in court. Going to court is apart of one of the rules you have to follow after getting out of placement. Children stay placed until they are taken into custody by family members, foster homes or old enough to get out of the systems. Terrio’s interviews with the federal officials and judges differed. There are even court officials who believe that these things that are taking place are uncommon and cruel. “no child’s case should ever go forward without an attorney” and that those under fourteen should be excused completely from appearances in court.” p.164 In all of Susans documentations from her informants it’s evident that the U.S. immigration system has failed.

Terrio provides the evidence that these lonely migrant children have been treated as if they were adults. Proving that the U.S. immigration law forbids that the immigration judge look out for the best interest of the kid, making it seem as if though Terrio’s purpose of exposing the shadowy U.S. immigration system was achieved, although these children were still being treated harshly. Until things finally took a shift. “When Congress failed to pass [the Dream Act], President Obama . . . took action so people like me can apply to stay in the country and contribute.”p.1 Obama, coming to save the day, came into office and took action against this odd and inhumane treatment against these young immigrant children. Obama launched what is known as DACA. Under DACA immigrant kids are allowed to get a work permit and their drivers license all while still trying to obtain their legal status. After Obama, a federal judge let out hundred of children and women out of the holding centers because it went against the legal requirements for the housing of immigrant children.

The Mexican experience from 1850 and 1870 in the United States compared to this book is almost exactly the same. Americans’ treating Mexicans like they are not human. Back then the Anglos came and took over Mexican territory and treated them like foreigners. In a sense Mexicans are really just coming over here for the opportunity to have better. Mexicans are willing to co-exist with us Americans no problem, it’s the Americans who believe that if you were not born here then you don’t deserve that chance, looking at this and history it’s the same thing all over again. In the crucible of struggle Vargas explains that “Mexicans declined further in their status as a defenless, oppressed minority.” This text proves that things still remain the same.

Reading Susan J Terrio’s Whose Child Am I? provided an extreme change of perspective for me, reading this text let me know just how much of an corrupt juvenile system the United States is running. From the stories of these children who remember nothing but thoughts of fear and anxiety from the detainment centers all the way down to the court judges who don’t believe that these children should be seen without an attorney. The immigration system the United States is running is really inconsiderate and that was the only negative aspect of reading this text. Terrio’s ability to grasp the authenticity of these young children’s hopes and dreams to escape an abusive past for a brighter future provided such a positive reading. The knowledge obtained is crucial to understanding what it’s like to be a Latino on the hunt for the “American Dream.” “It is what brought us to America. We’re a nation of immigrants, the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of the ones who wanted a better life, the driven ones. . . . They came not just in pursuit of riches in the world, but for the richness of this life.”p.6 An exceptional piece that should be read by all citizens.

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"Whose Child Am I?" Book Review. (2021, Oct 16). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/whose-child-am-i-book-review/