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Children’s Book “Islandborn” Tells The Story Of A Young Afro-Latina Immigrant Reconnecting With Her Homeland

Twenty years ago, Junot Díaz told his goddaughters he’d write a book where they, Dominican girls from the Bronx, could see themselves represented. This week, he made good on his promise, publishing “Islandborn.” But the children’s book, a first for the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, is as much a gift for his godchildren, now in their 20s, as it is for immigrant girls across the country.

“Islandborn” is about a New York-living Afro-Latina girl named Lola who is struggling to remember the country of her birth, the Dominican Republic.

“She is an immigrant who came over so young, she has no memories of the land that she left behind,” Díaz told NPR. “And of course she is surrounded by a community that talks endlessly about the island.”

Lola is about 6 years old, the same age “The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao” author was when he and his family fled to New Jersey from the Dominican Republic, and attends “the school of faraway places,” where all of her classmates are immigrants. For a class assignment, her teacher, Ms. Obi, instructs the little ones to draw a picture of their first home. Unable to remember what now seems like a faraway land, she turns to her family, asking them questions about the island they left but still talk so much about.

“You have some folks trying to discourage her, other folks trying to shut the door, but her persistence wins the day. And eventually someone sits down with her — Mr. Mir — and explains to her in highly metaphorical language, but I think [in] more honest and some ways more impactful than if he’d given her just a clinical description of it,” Díaz, a professor at MIT and a recipient of the MacArthur “genius grant,” said.

Through the school project, she becomes closer with her family and gains a deeper connection to the island she left as a baby.

Díaz hopes “Islandborn,” brought to life by the vibrant illustrations of Colombian-born artist Leo Espinosa, will help broaden the collection of books offered to young people, so that it is more reflective of the appearances and experiences of immigrant kids and children of color.

“If kids of color can read about white characters in children’s books all day, the only thing preventing the reverse is a malign set of racial policies,” he told the Washington Post. “The white default is, in some ways, the cornerstone of white supremacy. It’s not some innocent issue.”

Purchase a copy of “Islandborn,” available in English and Spanish, for the kiddie in your life on Amazon.

Read: This Book Will Remind All Of Us That Our Love For Non Traditional Culture Doesn’t Mean We’re Abandoning Our Heritage

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A 9-Year-Old Girl Was Detained By Border Patrol On Her Way To School

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A 9-Year-Old Girl Was Detained By Border Patrol On Her Way To School

A 9-year-old U.S. citizen was separated from her mother for 36 hours after agents at the border accused her of lying about her citizenship.

Like thousands of students in our country, Julia Isabel Amparo Medina’s daily commute requires her to cross the U.S. border.

The fourth-grade student attends Nicoloff Elementary School in San Ysidro, California and was in a carpool to school from her home in Tijuana when she ran into traffic. Medina, was commuting to school in a car driven by her mother’s friend Michelle Cardena, Cardena’s two children and her own older 14-year-old brother, Oscar. When the long line to get into the U.S. seemed to be jampacked upon their 4 a.m arrival, Cardenas instructed the kids in her car to walk to the border. She assured them that when they reached it, she would call them an Uber to get them the rest of the way to their school.

But Medina and her never made it across the border or to school that day.

According to the New York Times who talked to a Customs and Border Protection spokesman, two Amparo and her brother arrived at one of the San Ysidro port of entry facilities for pedestrians at 10:15 a.m. last Monday.

Upon their arrival, Amparo and her brother presented their U.S. passports to a CBP officer who soon accused her of being someone else. Note: Amparo’s passport image which was taken years before so she did not look exactly like herself. They also accused her brother of smuggling.

A CBP spokesperson has said that Amparo “provided inconsistent information during her inspection, and CBP officers took the 9-year-old into custody to perform due diligence in confirming her identity and citizenship.”

After CBP officers the confirmed that her brother was a U.S. citizen, he was permitted to enter the U.S while his sister stayed behind. It wasn’t until 6:30 pm on Tuesday, that Amparo was confirmed to be a U.S. citizen as well and was released and admitted to the U.S. to her mother.

Speaking to NBC7, Amparo said she was “scared” of her detention and that she was “sad because I didn’t have my mom or my brother. I was completely by myself.”

According to Amparo’s mother Thelma Galaxia, her daughter claims that she was told by an officer that she and her brother would be released if she admitted to being her cousin. Galaxia claims that officers also convinced her son Oscar to sign a document that Amparo was his cousin and not his sister.

When Galaxia was alerted that her children had been detained she contacted the Mexican consulate.

After being notified by the consulate that her daughter would be released at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. While the family felt relieved to be grateful to be reunited with their daughter, Galaxia says the separation should never have happened.

Over the weekend, Twitter was swift to express their outrage over the incident.

Some even expressed their dismay of having a similar situation happen to them.

Many are using the incident as an example of the racial issues plaguing so many U.S. citizens like Amparo.

So many of the comments included outside opinions from those who have yet to experience the direct targetting of ICE.

Over all, nearly everyone was quick to point out the saddest aspect of Amparo’s experience.

Read: Preschool Students Are Doing Active Shooter Drills And I Guess This Is The New Normal Now

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America Ferrera Brings Actors Across The Border To Visit Migrant Shelters

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America Ferrera Brings Actors Across The Border To Visit Migrant Shelters

America Ferrera has never been a celebrity to stay quiet in the face of injustice, so it’s no surprise that the actress-activist has boldly responded to the Trump administration’s policy requiring migrants seeking asylum in the United States to wait in Mexico.

Last week, the Superstore star led a group of actors, including Gina Rodriguez, Eva Longoria, Kerry Washington, Wilmer Valderrama, Roselyn Sanchez and Kendrick Sampson, across the southern border to a shelter in Tijuana, Mexico.

There, the group learned how the policy was impacting migrants while speaking directly with immigration lawyers and shelter managers as well as families and children. They hope through this real-life education that they will become better equipped to challenge the Trump administration in the US.

“It is easy for me to look at these human beings and see myself. … This could very easily have been my reality in this lifetime,” the Honduran-American actress told the Associated Press about the trip.

The “Remain in Mexico” policy limits the amount of asylum requests border patrol can attend to per day. The process, which has also forced refugees, including thousands of Central American families who have filed for sanctuary from violence and poverty in their home countries, to stay in Mexico, has slowed down the process and created case backlogs in the immigration system and overcrowding in shelters in Mexican border towns.

“We were able to bear witness to how the current administration is treating refugee families. We MUST demand better,” Washington said in an Instagram post. “Let me be clear: it is legal to seek asylum. When people cross our borders, their human rights come with them. We must protect those human rights.”

@kerrywashington / Instagram

According to NBC News, the visit was organized by nonprofits Families Belong Together and Harness, an organization started by Ferrera, Valderrama and Ryans Piers.

Jessica Morales Rocketto, who heads Families Belong Together, told the news outlet that one of the women she met at the shelter had been waiting with her toddler since November to apply for asylum.

“People get to the border and think that’s the end of the journey, but it’s only the beginning,” Morales Rocketto said.

Read: 20 Major Immigration Facts the American Public Refuses to Hear

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