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The Immigrant Teen Experience

July 15, 2019 - 10:28am -- Dodie
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Ink Knows No Borders jacket
I'm Undocumented jacket
Beast Rider jacket
Mauelito jacket
Love Hate and Other Filters jacket
Something In Between jacket
The Graduates cover

With ongoing threats of ICE raids, immigrant families are stashing away money, seeking out church pastors for advice or sanctuary and having “the talk” with their children about the possibility that one day an immigration agent could knock on their door. Think about how this feels to teens, who may already be questioning their place in the world! The following titles will inform and support teens experiencing threat of deportation, and those who care about them.

Ink Knows No Borders: Poems of the Immigrant and Refugee Experience by Patrice Vecchione and Alyssa Raymond this collection of poems addresses the many issues confronting first- and second- generation young adult immigrants and refugees, such as cultural and language differences, homesickness, social exclusion, human rights, racism, stereotyping and questions of identity.

Life for an undocumented immigrant is often one defined by fear and uncertainty. How does an undocumented immigrant plan for school and a career? What should he or she do if faced with deportation? I'm an Undocumented Immigrant, Now What? by Erin Staley can help remove some of the uncertainty, providing practical steps, a support and information base, and a list of online resources.

Beast Rider: a Boy's Journey Beyond the Border by Tony Johnston and María Elena Fontanot de Rhoads offers a sympathetic take on the immigration issue through the experience of one Mexican boy. His brother Toño hopped aboard a freight four years ago and made his way to Los Angeles. La Bestia, the train that carried Toño away, is now calling to Manuel. He knows the dangers: bandits, police and border patrol, and the ruthlessness of the Beast itself, which could cut you in pieces if you fall off. But he longs for his brother and determines to take the chance.

Magical realism plays a big part in The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante. Seventeen-year-old Marisol has always dreamed of being American, learning what Americans and the US are like from television and Mrs. Rosen, an elderly expat who had employed Marisol's mother as a maid. She never pictured fleeing her home in El Salvador under threat of death and stealing across the US border as "an illegal", but after her brother is murdered and her younger sister, Gabi's, life is also placed in equal jeopardy, she has no choice.

In Elisa Amado’s Manuelito, a 12-year-old’s life with his family in Guatemala is disrupted when gangs move into the area. Afraid for his safety, his parents send Manuelito to live with his aunt in the U.S. After a harrowing journey through Mexico, facing threats from “coyote” – the man paid to take him across the border – Manuelito finally reaches his New York destination. He starts school and begins to settle into his new life, but ICE officers arrive at the door and deport both him and his aunt.

Seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz lives in suburban Chicago with her conservative Indian parents. Her mother plans to arrange a marriage with a suitable Muslim boy once she’s old enough, and her father expects her to attend college close to home. Maya, however, has other ideas. She plans to attend film school in New York City and to find the boy of her dreams, but first, she must tell her parents. Then the real plot of Love, Hate and Other Filters, by Samira Ahmed, kicks in. A terrorist attack brings fresh waves of Islamaphobia to her town, and she sees her dreams of otherness dying.

Melissa de la Cruz is the author of Something In Between. This novel introduces readers to the life of Jasmine de los Santos, a Filipina immigrant and high school senior who excels in all parts of her life, from being the captain of her cheerleading team to making outstanding academic achievements. When Jasmine wins a national scholar award that would pay for all four years of her undergraduate education, she expects her parents to be proud and excited for her. Instead, Jasmine learns the devastating truth: her and her family’s visas are expired, and they are residing illegally in the United States. Shocked, Jasmine is forced to come to terms with her new reality.

The Graduates/Los Graduados explores pressing issues in education today through the eyes of six Latino and Latina students from across the United States. More than a survey of contemporary policy debates, the bilingual, two-part film offers first-hand perspectives on key challenges facing Latino high school students and their families, educators, and community leaders. It is the story of the graduates who will make up America's future.

Looking for more resources? The Services to Immigrants and Refugees team at the Denver Public Library collaborates with Denver’s multicultural community to create equitable opportunities for learning, discovery, and connection.