tv Author Discussion on Immigration CSPAN April 21, 2022 3:31am-4:30am EDT
author speaker and social justice advocate with medica ferrera. julissa is developing and executive producing a television series for a major network option from her best-selling memoir my underground american dream her young adult memoir someone like me is being used in classrooms across the country. she's here to talk about her new book. you sound like a white girl the case for rejecting assimilation. described as a dual polemic and manifesto the book delves into and tears apart the lie that assimilation leads to belonging. in 2017. julissa was named one of people and espanol's 25 most powerful women and in 2022 and 2019. she was named a woman of the year by the city of los angeles. she's a leading voice.
yes. she's a leading voice. in the fight for social justice immigrant rights and education equality. julissa has contributed to the new york times time magazine buzzfeed news crooked media cnbc and is one of the host of crooked conversations. she has provided political commentary across numerous tv networks. including nbc news bloomberg tv cnn and msnbc our next esteem guest here. today is todd miller. who is an author journalist and writes for the post writes posts for the border chronicle if you haven't checked it out you should. go and google it and find it. it's a great piece of border reporting he has researched and written for border issues for more than 15 years the last eight as an independent journalist and writer. he resides here in tucson,
arizona, but has spent many years living and working in oaxaca mexico. his work has appeared in the new york times tom dispatch the nation san francisco chronicle in these times yadonica and al jazeera english among other places. todd miller is the author of four books including the one he will discuss today build bridges not wall walls a journey to a world without borders empire of borders the expansion of the us border around the world storming the wall climate change migration homeland security and border patrol nation dispatches from the front lines of homeland security. he's also a contributing editor on border and immigration issues for the not cloud report on the americas and its column border wars. so, thank you both for being here.
to start off if you could just give us in the audience a little bit of background on how you arrived at this topic of that are you know the topic of your current works right now, maybe we could start with you. julisa. thank you for so much for for having me and i'm glad to see some familiar faces in the audience that came with me to the last panel. and so i'm glad to you here again. so i've written a couple of memoirs my underground american dream and someone like me and both of those books are my personal experience dealing with immigration and the immigration system. i came to the us when i was 11 from mexico and i came on a tourist visa when my visa expired when i was 14, i became undocumented. and so my previous books deal with and tell my personal story right just that the personal cost of staying in the united states the sacrifices that i and my family had to make in order
for me to continue my education. i always like to point out that texas was the first date to allow undocumented students to go to college and pay in state tuition 20 years ago, which seems really crazy to think about now given what's going on in texas, but when i was growing up there the year that i graduated high school is the year that that law passed and so i was able to go college so i spend the last five or six years really reflecting on my personal experience and writing those books, but the one thing that i realized is that there's there's bigger issues that play when i think about the immigration system, so when i was researching this book, i i don't want to say discovered but i found out for the first time in the 30 years that i've lived in the united states that the very first congress of the united states in 1790 the very very first law immigration laws that were enacted and naturalization
loss said that only white man could naturalize if they had lived in the united states for two years and we're of good moral character. however, that was defined back then. so i started to realize that this system that had kept my family apart that had kept me from being with my father when he died. that had cost incredible heartbreak. that this entire system was built upon. white supremacy and it was the system was driven by race more than any other factor. and of course their economic factors, and of course there are national interests national security interests at play, but when you really start to look at every single law that has passed in the united states in relation to immigration border security naturalization, it all really comes back to race.
and once i understood that my mind was really kind of open to understanding the rest of my experience in america. this idea that assimilation leads to belonging. so as an immigrant, i've been told since i was loving years old that i needed to learn how to speak english that i needed to get a good education. i needed to pay my taxes. i needed to get a good job. i needed to become a productive member of society and be a good immigrant. and so i did that. i did every single one of those things and at the end of that road, i still didn't belong and there is still spaces where i walk into and people will look at me and ask me, where are you from followed by? where are you from from? because some people can't imagine that there are people who look like me. who never crossed the border who have never been for some from someplace else? i mean here in arizona, right? arizona was part of mexico before it was part of the united states and it wasn't just the land that was acquired during the mexican-american war. it was also the people the
people who lived there. and that's really how i came. i came to this work was first from a personal experience and then in order to write this book. i had to take a step back and really look at the bigger picture. look at the historical record that many times has submitted from anything that i ever learned in school, and i'm sure many people in the audience that you also have never learned because those aren't things that are put at the forefront of the history lessons. and so that's how i came to this work first from a personal perspective and then from a more of a reported polymic manifesto perspective thank you for that todd. what brought you to this particular work building bridges not walls. i know you've been writing about the border for a long time, but this is a little bit different what caused you to sort of take this perspective in your book that we're going to be talking a little bit more about yeah on the excuse me.
thank you, celeste and i just first want to say it's an honor to be on this panel with julissa and and use the last and and as my microphone working i will now bring my mouth up to it. i was just saying it's an honor to be with these two with julissa and celeste on this panel, and it's honored to be with you here today. my my most recent book bill britt does not walls. it's this book here. this book is my fourth book actually, and it's a departure from my previous three books, which are much more straightforward investigative journalism. um and just the investigative journalism that i've done. my first book for example is called border patrol nation, and it really looked at the post 9/11 expansion of the us border
and immigration enforcement apparatus. so i try to do a deep dive into that and then investigative fashion and you know looking at for example the budgets of the of the us border and immigration and force of us a border and immigration enforcement from say 1994 or 1994's very critical year because that's when the prevention through deterrence strategy was implemented the strategy that we see 25 years or 26 years later on the border today prevention to deterrence is building up the the urban or traditional places where people crossed with walls technology and more agents and then forcing people to circumvent into the desert or other desolate places in order to pass the border so looking at you know, for example budgets going from 1.5 billion dollars to if you look at the
budget for 1.5 billion in 1994 to 25 billion today, and those are annual budgets. they grow every single year. so that's what you know, those are things that i've looked into like, what are these budgets? what have they meant? what the why do we have seven hundred miles of walls and barriers along the 2,000 mile us mexico border. what is this technological infrastructure? that's we put billions and billions of dollars and into why do we hire 4,000? you know when when there were 4,000 border patrol agents and in 1994 and now they're between 20 and 21,000 so um, that's five times more. so like looking at you know, those sorts of numbers and and the kind of development of this apparatus and also another workstorming the wall, which is my second book. i i took i looked at all this and then looked at how climate
change like in a world of where we're seeing according to the internal displacement monitoring center 25 million people, at least they say it's an under count 25 million people across the globe per year displaced due to some sort of climate catastrophe and then if you look at some of the documents from say the department of homeland security, they're very aware of this and the solution that you see in some of these documents that we need to build up our borders even more. and so so i took all those sorts of investigative findings and these different in this in the in these different books. oh, i should mention my the book right before builders is not walls was called empire borders and in that book. i i just did a very straightforward journalistic strategy following the money, right? so i what i did was i followed
us federal money that was going to different countries around the world to see how they they were assisting other countries and building up their own borders. and and so i i went to the mexico guatemala border. i went to the guatemalan honduran border. i went to the dominican haiti border. i went to the philippines which is the maritime border. i went to the jordan syrian border and the kenyan tanzania border trying to follow this money and watching how of us programs are helping other countries build up their borders and the whole idea is a part of the strategy to push out us borders as much as possible. to stop people to come coming to stop people even thousands of miles before they for before they get to the united states. so those all this went into bill bridges not walls and bill burge
is not walls. really happened. i'll tell you just a brief how it starts just briefly. and i just want to say that all this stuff it's a meditation of all these years of doing investigative reporting but a departure from that and it's it's a it's more it's in one way. it's a reflection, but it comes from one event and this one event happened a couple years ago. i was um, i was on the tanatum nation, which is just to the south of here the tunnels of nation shares a 70 mile border with mexico, but the ton optimization, of course the tunnel autumn people were anton land right now turn out the territory goes deep into mexico because up to phoenix right when the border was was drawn. it was really imposed in the mid eight in 19th century on the autumn people. and so i was there. and i was driving down the down the road and down a dirt road
and also in a man appeared at the side of the road. and he was waving his arms in distress. so i stopped the car he came up to the he came up to the to my window. i rolled down the window. i gave him a bottle of water which he drank. and he that asked me if he could i asked him if there anything else i can do for you, and he asked me if he could if i could give him a ride into the next to the next town and then i hesitated. you know and and that hesitation. and i'll tell you i'll explain why i hesitated probably later in the conversation but in that hesitation was was what? brought this book into life thank you, todd. so the title of our panel is immigration in america and what? like to take a minute or two for you to for us to reflect on what the state of immigration in america is from your perspectives? whoever wants to first well it
depends on what we're asking right if we're asking. what is the state of immigration policy? what is the state of immigrants? what is the state of the border? because to me those are those are those are different things and i could have a different answer for each of those things, but i think overall the the sort of headline for me to answer this question is that things haven't changed right? i things have not changed some of the worst immigration policies that are in the books today that prevent free people from quote unquote fixing their immigration status. we're enacted during the bill clinton years and and those laws things like the 10-year ban. we're enacted during the bill clinton years and they haven't changed during the last administration. there was a huge uproar about kids in cages about families being separated at the border.
well, guess what those things are still happening today. we just have turned our eye away from it. so in many ways all of these things that all of these horrible things that immigrants are put through have not changed and i wish i was more hopeful to say that i think that those things will change, but i'm not very hopeful about it right now because there's really been in action from congress to pass any kind of immigration reform, but that's only one piece of it, you know, i often before i became a citizen i was often asked why don't you fix your immigration status? like why don't you get in the back of the line and do it the right way i heard that often often many times. i heard that why didn't you do it the right way and i used to go to a lawyer every year and ask like have they have the laws change. is there anything i can do to fix my immigration status now and the answer would always be no. when i think about my college
experience, and i mentioned that i was able to go there because of the of the texas law changes the dream act, which you may have heard. and if not, i'll tell you a little bit about it. the dream act was introduced for the first time in 2001. the dream act would have gitbury had provided a path to citizenship for young undocumented people who came to this country through no choice of their own right our parents brought us here. that was in 2001. it is now 2022. i have lived an entire life. during those 21 years until and still today. there are young people in the same situation that i found myself in. so in many ways things have not changed, but in other ways, you know when i think about things that the state level there are certainly laws that that change immigrants lives that are passed and there is progress being made just the fact that undocumented people can get driver's licenses in california and in several
other states the fact that a few other states have followed food and still is crazy for me to say they have followed texas lead in the you know in a good way which is to provide more in state tuition for more students. there's about 20 or so states that provide that now so in some ways it has changed in some ways. it hasn't and i think that we, you know personally as an act to as an activist and as an advocate it is my job to advocate for immigrants and for the better treatment the more humane treatment of immigrants regardless of who is in office because these things happen regardless of who is in office. how would you respond to that todd? what is the state of immigration in america today? well in terms of the border, i mean just if i've even go to that story. i was just telling the running into person in the desert crossing through the desert. that's you could go out right now. we could get we could leave this auditorium go to the desert right now and have that same
exact experience because the way that the border is set up that has not changed one iota right that and like julisa was saying that comes from a clinton era policy as well. right the whole the whole 1994 if you go back to 1994, you could border patrol memorandum. the memorandum says talks about the prevention through deterrence. the deterrence was by enforcing the cities you force people in the desert. the desert becomes the deterrence that is still the strategy and now with the and and what has happened year after year after year after year after year if you follow the budget tonight if you should go and look at the budget you can go look at the ins budgets and then the dhs budgets they go up every single year and they've went up, you know in the last for the transition from the trump administration to the by-demstration they continue to to go up right? so the the kind of overall arcing border and immigration
enforcement apparatus has its it's it's the same there's there's a there's there's a walls and technology right now that vitaministration is talking about will shifting from building, you know building up more wall and to to technology but often it. it's it's a you know, the way that the narrative goes is that's more humane and really it's it's the same it's a part of the same apparatus, right? the technology is a it's comes in the form of surveillance towers of cameras that can see seven point five miles away or ground sleeping radar systems or drone systems. they're now implementing medium and small-sized drones on the border and all of it if you look if you look at this if you go out to the south here, you can go into the hills and see surveillance towers, they're put in place. so people can see them from far away and then we'll go even further out into remote further remote areas, and that's why this last year there was more people dying or more remains are covered of people than then
we've ever seen before and those sorts of deaths on the border and the according to the us border patrol. there's been at least 8,000 people who have the who have their had their remains recovered since since the 1990s since the pretty much since the prevention to deterrence policy was was our strategy was implemented there that you know those sorts of like you can think about it right now in march and when it's going to heat up again in arizona as the people who are from the southern arizona know very well and people are going to die again coming through the desert people who are perfectly healthy right now, and that's part of the same policy and strategy so and and that sense in the border sense there seems to be just a big trajectory of things. staying the same in a lot of ways. i know that and even in terms of trump-era policies like title 42 title 42 for people that don't know are the rapid expulsion systems that were were put in
place after when the pandemic started exactly precisely two years ago and the title 42 like asylum seekers who come to the border will be still are still rapidly deported back to mexico without being able to have a sort any sort of hearing in the united states those sorts of things are still still in place from the trump era. so in a lot of ways, it's like i mean, i'm just piggybacking on what julisa was saying, but but there's there's very much similarities in the trajectory that we're seeing. thank you, todd. thank you for mentioning the human toll of all of this too, because i think it also relates to what julisa was mentioning about. the connections between immigration policy and race and how that's all you know, there's a direct connection because if this were happening and the northern border, i think we'd see a much different response if you know, it just wouldn't probably even occur and if i may, you know, i think one of them what's happening today in
ukraine with the with the invasion of vladimir putin, i think really illustrates. how different we treat refugees depending on where they're coming from and what they look like, and i'm not at all so i i think that the way that we are welcoming you ukrainian refugees and the way that the media is talking about them is the exact way we should be talking about refugees from every of the world. thank you. let's get into the title of your book. you sound like a white girl and then was wondering where that came from. and you also mentioned that some people might feel uncomfortable about it about the title and but it's maybe something that they need to be thinking about. maybe you could just expand on that a little bit yeah, so the title of my book you sound like a white girl comes from this experience that i had in high school. i had this i had a crush as high
school girls do and this boy told me that i sounded like a white girl. and he did not mean it as a compliment, but i took it as a compliment. i was so proud that oh my god. i sound like a white girl. i was so excited because all of the girls in my school who belonged were white girls whenever i thought or imagined in my head and all american girl. like an all-american cheerleader if you close your eyes and the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear all american girl, does she look like me? i certainly when i close my eyes, that's not who i saw i saw a white girl, and i was i was i really at that point in my life very much wanted to be like the white girls in my school. i wanted to sound like them. i wanted to look like them. i wanted to act like them and dress like them and it all comes
from this idea that assimilation leads to belonging that you do all these things you will belong in this country. of course now i can look back at that experience and and you know, i sometimes cry when i think of this young julissa not loving her skin not loving what she looks like because the world has told her that she needs to be something else. and so the the title of the book is really it's a little bit sarcastic title because i don't think i sound like a white girl. i don't even know what a white girl is supposed to sound like as though all white girls sound at the same. you know and then the same the same phrase you sound like a white girl was also then used against me by my own community, right because i would say well you're not mexican enough now like you you why are you trying? why are you selling out? right? and i also didn't know or understand what i was supposed to sound like as a mexican as a mexican-american and so the title to me, there's really two
two parts to it. there are the lies that let me to believe that sound like a white girl was a good thing and then there is the dismantling of those lies in the second part of the book where i talk about reclaiming my culture and reclaiming my history and reclaiming my identity and a sense of self that decenters the white gaze and that decenters whiteness, and i do think that you know, as i said in the smaller panels i was at yesterday if you were a white person you probably will be uncomfortable reading some of the things in this book, but i do very much think that we're gonna make progress we do need to get uncomfortable to have honest conversations that can lead to a better country a country where all of us can belong without having to give up parts of ourselves. thank you for that todd some of your work some of the investigative work and this
current work can make people feel uncomfortable too when they realize the sort of economics that go into a building. walls instead of bridges maybe you could expand on that and talk about the connections between immigration policy and the economics of it and perhaps why we are things have not changed. in the ways that some would think would be would be more beneficial. sure. yeah on one of the one of the poem the points of focus for me and my work is looking at i as i explained the budgets going up, but so i've done a lot of investigation into the kind of privatization of the border immigration apparatus the variety of private companies that have have gotten contracts over the years and one very
startling was startling to me. i want probably i imagine i might be startling the youtube but soon from between 2008 and 2020 and i might get this a little bit wrong because i'm remembering it off the top of my head. but there were 105,000 contracts given to private companies by customs and border protection. of course cbp is the the agency that oversees the border patrol. it's the largest federal law enforcement agency in the in the united states. it has about 60,000 agents 21,000 again that are in the us border patrol and ice which is of course immigration and customs enforcement, which is in charge of the incarceration or the detention system within the united states about 200 to 250 to tension centers across the country many of them run by private companies. and so there's there between 2018 and 2008 and 2020 over those 12 years 105,000 contracts
to the tune of about 55 billion dollars. um to compare if you take just the border and immigration budgets from 1975 to 2003 those 28 years. this is pre department of homeland security going up to dhs, which was created in 2003 or implemented in 2003 that the total budgets for border and immigration enforcement during those years or 52 billion dollars so you could see like in those 12 years money going to private companies is more than the entire budgets of 27 years and that to me that's there's two things one that dramatic emphasis, you know in the last 25 or so couple decades and in terms of budgets of bringing up this border and immigration enforcement apparatus, but also the participation of these private companies and what that means right in terms of now
during appropriation processes you'll have private company is going into washington because they can and lobbying. there's lots of money that's given the lobbying. so making sure that those budgets keep going up right or getting behind closed doors or campaign contributions, and there's plenty of campaign contributions are different companies going to different key members from the president for the president down on down to like key committee members. so that's that's something that i looked into as far as economics are concerned and i find it, you know, very, you know, i don't find that people know that those details too much and that that could be a point of emphasis like why you know, why isn't there why are more people talking about these budgets going up? why are the private? why do these private companies have so much power in these processes? thanks, so julissa. i'm so glad that you your voice
is out there that you are drawing on your personal experiences to to really be a role model for a lot of latinas out there and i'm sure you get a lot of good feedback, but i'm just wondering if how that's been for you. it's i'm sure it's difficult and at the same time why? you feel personally that compelled to draw on your own experiences to to maybe you change things for the future or at least let people know what you know with the history has been and what things are like contemporarily. i mean, i i was still stranger people say i'm a because i i don't always view myself that way but i am but i am really glad that. there are more books more stories that are being told for. young girls like me. there's a story that i share in in you sound like a white girl that for the first time in like
20 years. i went back to my middle school the first school that i went to in the united states and i had i did not have the best experience there because at that time i didn't speak english and you know girls were mean and and i and i and i really did not like going to that school. i i had teachers who looked at me i think i think they looked at me in my lack of english proficiency as meaning that i wasn't smart and therefore treating me in a very different way when in reality like i've always really loved school, and i've always really loved getting good grades, and i just needed to catch up to the language to then be able to to go back to that, but i went back to the middle school with my last with my last book someone like me and i i walked i walked into this this gym. and i was really nervous because i just all this sort of memories and thoughts of the things that i endured when i was there just kind of came flashing into my mind. and then and then the students
came in and i shared my story with them. i shared stories that had really inspired me as well like the texas cheerleaders who fought for the right to be cheerleaders because in crystal city texas only one out of the four cheerleaders could be mexican-american even though the school was 85% to mexican-american and i was deeply inspired by these teenagers at that time who fought for the right to bear pom-poms and and you know, they it started as that, but they really created incredible change in their communities the school board became majority latino the city council became majority latino within two years, so i shared that story with with these students and at the end at the end of my talk they had this i mean i'm like getting emotional thinking about it. they had this poster size pictures of me when i was in middle school. i was a cheerleader in middle school because again, i wanted to be all american and they had
this posters and they wanted me to sign them because they wanted to put them up in their bedrooms and i really held back my tears because i didn't want to cry in front of students. but when i was done i ran to the ladies room and and patted my tears because i remembered that the posters that i had in my bedroom. and none of them were of girls that looked like me. and so now to go back to that same place and to think that the the person that these young girls admired or wanted to imitate someone like me. and that i think is one of the best feelings as a writer that people find themselves in my stories. yeah. you todd what drives you to continue to work on? issues related to the border
yeah, i mean, i i don't think i ever planned to write four books about the border. it's it's amazing how that happened like one every time i wrote one book ever in one book it just that the vastness of what this means becomes. there's like each each time around kind of revelation and that in this lat and this last book you know it i said maybe i'll just mention more of that story. i you know the when i was at when i was there in the desert and i had that moment of hesitation. and there is a moment of first i was looking at juan carlos's attorney that he told me his name later, and he he looked he he asked me the question that hesitated. and there was a moment of like i hesitated because of course i couldn't according to the us law right? i couldn't give them all. i couldn't give him i couldn't give him a ride.
because i might phase years and it would be a felony right? that's what i was thinking. that's why i hesitate it. and then what overtook me after that was this feeling of ire or anger, right i thought about because i thought about all the stuff i know from the reporting right other surveillance towers that could be watching us a drone could be flying overhead. you never we could have went over an implanted motion sensor, you know, there's 12,000 implanted motion sensors along the 2,000 mile us mexico borderland, and then we 2000 mile us mexico borderlands any like a ton of things could have like triggered the apparatus to be looking at us and on but but it was season 5 like why why couldn't i give this person that was obviously in distress a ride, right? what like even stuff even like values that i learned from as a little kid of how you treat one
person you treat a person you treat a person in distress you help out a person in distress, right? and i and just and just that sort of conundrum. um brought me to this to this place. so this new book right the the um, i would say that the that the -- that idea the book was born in that moment and and when it was born it wasn't only like this conundrum of of what's going on like in this moment with this person? it was it was like this whole thing needs to be questioned completely and utterly like why do we have this border and immigration enforcement apparatus at all? let's why is it just never unpacked to the general public at? all? right. like why aren't the components of it? why isn't julisa's story like more out there and and like all the different elements of it. and if we had all the facts and looking at it and it's entirety
wouldn't we be questioning it and wouldn't we wouldn't there be more arguments for the dismantling of it? and i think that's where that's kind of the where i've kind of turned the corner a little bit and in my new in my newer. ratings on it thank you, todd. i'm just as an aside. i think that motive metaphorically and literally you are both dismantling and deconstructing borders and creating bridges in your own way. so and commend you for that and now we can open up the mic for questions from the audience. i have a lot more questions too, but i'd like to give you members of the audience chance to ask some questions. we have a microphone up here. if you could please come up to the microphone. so everyone can hear your question and we can have your questions posed to our great panelists go ahead. my question is for todd. i'm an accountant by nature.
so i appreciate the way in which you you know dove into the story and talked about budgets and and i personally believe that the way in which we identify priorities and our values can be told through our budgets. so if you had a magic wand what would you do today in terms of disinvestment from? and then what would you invest into so sort of like what you know, what would be the two sort of biggest things that you would identify for disinvestment and investment? ah, thanks for that question. i think that's a good question and i mean, i don't know but but one thing one thing i can say right is a the disinvestment rate if you're at a disinvest like again the cbp ice budgets for the share 25 billion dollars. like whoa, 25 billion dollars. what else could that be spent on right like like if you think of terms of security quote unquote
security and well-being like human well-being would there perhaps be better late? for example, it should be you should people be drinking contaminated water and flint, michigan or you know, or could um, if there's an affordable housing crisis, couldn't that money go to? to that, you know there. i don't know the answer to that, but it seems to me that when you look at it and you look at it what it is. you look at the money it costs and you look at the impacts of it and you think about human well-being. it's it's you know, there's so many different avenues where this money could be spent client like climate change, right? whoa. what about that? like, what about if like the united states being one of the top historic emitters and claiming responsibility that and looking at how that could help places that are now being
impacted in very serious ways around the globe, right? there's just so many. i don't know the answer honest. honestly, i have my thoughts, but i think the answers to those questions need to have a kind of collective conversation, right? but i think what i do think is i think you're spot on and i think that money can be that divested and then diverted into other places. thank you and a lot one quick thing, which is that you know when you look at immigration patterns and like why people end up at the southern border or you know in europe why people are seeking refuge or immigrating like these things don't happen by accident. their patterns that get created and in the united states many of the reasons why central american immigrants are coming to the united states is because of the us involvement in the distivalization of those countries, and so part of the divestment and investment there needs to be an investment in the
root causes of of these migration patterns. and until we do that. you know, i personally would have loved to stay in mexico. right? like i don't think that people realize just how difficult it is to migrate to a different country. but every day there's people who are displaced from their homes. and as i said many times the reason those things are happening is because us and western involvement so part of that money needs to be spent in those places. next question. thank you. i've two questions and i want to thank you for mentioning about ukraine because it's been bothering me how like, oh we're taking action now, but if we take an action sooner, maybe we wouldn't have to take action now, maybe we particularly, use several wars sooner. we stood up maybe there wouldn't be this happening. hard to say but my first question is are your books on audio and available in libby, and my second question has to do more do with geneva conventions
every day. i see the destruction of the the great world. we created after world war two, you know went that were we have, you know democracies becoming autocracies from mexico and india and and turkey and and hungry and italy and poland like these are all going to autocracy and here we have it happening and and this this anti-immigration is all part of it from from america first way back in the world, too and we have these geneva conventions and yet our immigration's policies daily to violator genevaemon mentions. obligations, and i'm wondering what your thoughts might be like in that and how we can you know, since we have treaty laws and obligations and this is around the world this to happen. but what can we do to make us abide by our to be the obligations? to answer your first question. the book is on audible or fm
books and i read the book. i don't know that i have the expertise to ask to answer your question about geneva conventions, but i do just want to say that the world that was created after world war two. wasn't great for everyone and and in it in it and it continues to not be great for for everyone. so that's only that's really the i have. sorry, i can't answer your other question. i just don't have that expertise. i don't know if i do either but i do know that the um, all my other books are on audible except for this one. so sorry, hopefully it will be very soon. there seems to be there was a delay with my other book. so hopefully this one will be on audible soon as far as the geneva conventions. are concerned i mean in a way, you know, one of the you know, the geneva convention it's talk about a refugee status as far as being, you know people fleeing persecution and this is from
right little you know, the 1940s. it seems like a you know, there has to be a revisiting of the geneva conventions b. i mean what like what we're seeing on the border or what we see with borders. it seems to be the the border systems themselves are perpetual human rights violation ginny. he can say geneva convention violation around across the globe and it seems like those sorts of you know, that that those sorts, you know, the convention needs to be revisited is it you know, and and looked in it's a lot of those sort of legal international legal things need to need to be revisited to take a number of things into account and if if they're being violated there should be some sort of on you know some some sort of like it of that, right thank you next question.
todd this question is for both of you, but you shared that anecdote about how your paws when talking to the man in the desert kind of made you reflect on your own values and the ones that you grew up with and i was wondering if both of you could talk about how the current and historical immigration policy kind of stands in direct contrast to our kind of collective american values and what is kind of perhaps in some ways un-american about our immigration policy. i think that our immigration policy is a direct reflection. of our american values that's you know, i don't think that it's i i we were talking earlier before we came on on stage that you know, sometimes we talk
about the unintended consequences of immigration laws, but i actually think that the consequences are the consequences are exactly what was intended when those laws were passed. and so i you know part and and this is just my perspective right like and i don't want to be clear about something like i sometimes people are like how come you don't love america, and i'm like i do love america and it's james baldwin said that's why i reserve the right to perpetually criticize it because i live here and i love it, and i wanted to be better for my children. so, you know, i think that for me i have had to stop romanticizing. what america is? in order to fully love it more and to understand it more and to understand what are the things that we need to do collectively to make this truly be a better place. no, no, i think i agree. i agree with you. i mean if you look at you know like from the 19th century.
the chinese exclusion act is like, you know, there's not it's the immigration policies are discriminatory like based on the 1920s laws based on eugenics, right but like when i was talking about my value values in that moment, it was definitely like even you could even look at like i grew up. going, you know at church. they tell me that you know or whatever way, you know, if you see somebody in distress you help them out. it's like a universe if it felt like at a universal value of somebody's not you know it downtrodden. well you help them out you if somebody's you know, the thirsty you give them water that's that's sort of thing and that sort of like now i would say a natural impulse to hospitality or at least what i had myself right and on that's that was the value system that i was talking about like i hear i was here's a person they're asking me for the
simplest thing right there were last in the desert. they just wanted to ride. like and just give the guy a ride right? and and so yeah, that's that's what i meant. than that hi, i am really glad to be here for this discussion today. i live i'm an american citizen, but i've lived in europe for over 30 years. i've been observing the whole immigration policy. evolution from that perspective this for that reason. i think it's very informative for me as well and one of my questions for you is he said that it was really important that people learned to understand that americans can also look like you there are people in the united states who believe that looking at the diversity of the experiences in the backgrounds. and the way that people look in the united states is actually causing friction what would you say to those people? why is it important to talk
about this these? these experiences in their great diversity. what does that add to the value of our discussion about what america is and who being american is? and for todd i yeah, i'd be interested to know you're obviously an advocate for more humane immigration policies. what was your motivation? to get involved in this discussion in this way and my my final to you was about the motivation of adding billions and billions and billions of more dollars to the budget each year is it a link between private? private sector interest and policy is it a fateful combination of what we think should be happening at the border and are complicity. in allowing these budgets and these majors to go up.
so dramatically, yeah. so there is and i'm and i am very sorry that i cannot remember her name right now, but there's an amazing author. that is a great ted talk about this too. she did a ted talk about this in which she talks about the dangers of the single narrative. the dangers of having one story tell the story of everyone. and my story is only one story. and part of what i what i really emphasize is the in the book is that there's been times when my own story has been used against other immigrants because i'm considered a good immigrant. but my biggest role my role model is my mother who didn't finish high school who you know when people talk about even myself like i broke a lot of loss in order to get to where to where i got because and and i
used to be ashamed of saying i broke the law but now i realize how the law was breaking me. and breaking people like me, but my stories only one story so my story can't also be used as a collective story, but i do think it's important that more of us. write books like this. that there are more tv shows and films that truly reflect who the american people are. anytime i go, you know here in the united states people will look at me and and most people will recognize me as mexican. when i go to i was i was in france last summer. and our captain for this little boat that we had he was italian and he asked my group of friends where we were from and we said we're from los angeles. and he said no, but i mean like where are you from so like even outside of this country? we're having to answer that
question and i want to get to a place where in this country or outside of this country people also not only but also imagine people like me when they think american i was just going to say the authors that you're referring to as chimamanda ngocia digi who's a great author as well. i only know that because i assigned that ted talk to my students as well. yeah, it says it's a great talk. it's gone viral. i don't know how many, you know views it's received but go ahead talk. oh, yeah. um, so a cut you know, what what motivating me. well one one thing that my grandmother is from the philippines and i grew up she came to the us when she was 16 she was odds, i mean, yeah, so i heard the stories of her her story throughout my life and and
i grew up eating adobo and pence set and and you know that sort of thing and i also i went to live in mexico in the late 1990s when i lived in mexico one of the biggest biggest things that happened for me was not only learning about what was going on in mexico and and but was and learning the language and but it was also this ability to see my country from outside of its borders and that for me that was a game changer that really really as fueled my my work and my thinking about this since then in terms of on the budgets rising it's amazing to me that he just that people don't know that about the budget. it's i wouldn't even say it's complicity because i don't even maybe it is i don't know but but the fact the fact that the budgets are rising and rising and rising and rising, it's really not something that's well known right when i say those
numbers when i do talks and different places. it's usually a news, you know, and it they get past every year. it's kind of under the water sort of news and the people in the discussions are generally not the public right? it's generally like behind closed doors in certain committees and with the private companies going behind closed doors if i only could be a fly on the wall on those in those conversations. they hear what's being said, right you try to deduce what's being said, but those sorts of things are not really that public information. i wish that i wish it was i think if it was people more would be talking about it. well, i want to thank both of our authors here this afternoon. you are in your own ways really building bridges and deconstructing borders, which there needs to be more of that kind of workout. there's i want to commend you
for all of the work over the years and for the the books that you have out this year and for those in the audience. thank you for your questions. and for your attendance and your participation participation today. i wanted to let you know that the authors will be proceeding to the sales and signing editor area. they will be at the ua bookstore tent on the mall and so that you can head to that direction immediately so you can talk directly with the authors. i want to thank everybody for coming today.