In her book Mexican author transmits words of immigrant children, who try to find a shelter in the US. The investigation carried by journalist in 2014, during the epicenter of migration crisis, lasts until now. And the questions which arises within this issue do not seem to be on a wane.

New Central Americans are not anything at all—except aliens, maybe.

In 2017 Valeria Luiselli, a Mexican journalist, published a book telling about her experience working as an interpreter for child refugees. Kids were interviewed in court, giving information in order to remain in the United States, running from such countries as Honduras, El Salvador or Guatemala. According to Valeria Luiselli, the particularity of refugees from Central America is that they are not identified in any manner: “A Central American kid is not white, not black, but also not Latino—at least upon arrival”.

In her review Annalia Luna, a contributor to HTNLGIANT magazine, briefs the book “Tell me how it ends” in a marvelous way: “Here’s a challenge: tell me a story, without knowing the beginning, middle, or the end. Now, tell it in your second language, or one where the handful of words you know transforms you back into a child. No, let’s say you are a child. Let’s say this conversation will be recorded, and what you say—and how you say it—will determine where you are allowed to live. Let’s say you came alone”.

That is the script of around 40-question intake interview, that volunteers administer to each new asylum-seeker. Valeria Luiselli was one of the workers, asking questions and interpreting for a governmental institution. The questionnaire contained a wide range, and did not have a specific limit for the age. In the author’s twitter account one can see a photo of Patrol Border interview with a two-year old.

“What I was really doing there that morning was providing backup for organizations dealing with an emergency, – says Valeria to “The Nation“. “Not the emergency that detonated at the border with the surge of minors arriving, but the quieter, bureaucratic, legal emergency sparked by the federal government’s decision to create a priority juvenile docket in response”. On the contrary, the narrow-formed questionnaire unwinds the intimidate stories of migrant children.

Luiselli reminds, that the general topic of children narratives and migration in general has been illustrated before by such authors as Emiliano Monge or Antonio Ortuño. During one year of American refugee crisis, starting in 2014, more than 68,000 children were apprehended at the US/Mexico border according to “Vox“. The following years the topic of kids migration has not been risen up, as was it was overshadowed by such stories as immigrants crossing the boarders on the top of the train “La Bestia“, gangs MS13 and Barrio 18 increasing violence in Central America. However, the issue with children still stays unsolved by nowadays, and is not discussed. “We’ve known this story for years now, and if there is anything that Luiselli wants to dismantle, it’s our veneer of understanding” – writes Dinaw Mengestu in her review for “NYtimes“.

So, what is the hook of the book?

The author claims, that after filing the questionnaire imperturbably, she felt that she would rather wrote down the stories of kids for herself. That is from where the book was started from a bureaucratic paper to a combination of essays:

“One boy says, The gang followed me after school, and I ran, with my eyes closed I ran. So I write all that down, and then, in the margin, make a note: Persecution? He says more: And they followed me to school and later they followed me home with a gun. So I write that down too, and then make a note: Death threats? Then he says, They kicked my door open and shot my little brother. So I write that down too, but then I’m not sure what note to make in the margin: Home country poses life-threatening danger? Not in child’s best interest to return? What words are the most precise ones? All too often I find myself not wanting to write anymore, wanting to just sit there, quietly listening, wishing that the story I’m hearing had a better ending. I listen, hoping that the bullet shot at this boy’s little brother misses. But it doesn’t. The little brother is killed, and the boy flees. And now he is being screened, by me. Later, his screening, like many others, is filed and sent away to a lawyer: a snapshot of a life that will wait in the dark until maybe someone finds it and decides to make it a case”.

In the interview to “The Nation” Valeria Luiselli explains, weather she sees any concerns about the book. The question, which was directed to the Mexican journalist tickles the current topic of engraining duality of “good/bad, worthy/deportable migrants”. One could remember, that in 2016 in Germany, the biggest migration spot nowadays, one of the activists’ project about giving to the “right” refugee an opportunity to migrate by plane. Thus, as the journalist supposed, the book could as well make the reader sort out his priorities about the incomers. Loosely speaking, the question would be “Who deserves to come to the US?”. But in the interview Valeria gives a direct answer:

“…I don’t think that empathy for other human beings is a kind of limited, non-renewable resource. On the contrary, empathy is something we learn by coming into contact with other lives, and by which we also learn that no life is more or less expendable than any other”.

Thus’ being developed from strict scheme, the texts embody more, than direct answers to the questions. The stories of the Kids stay unfinished as the book ends, as well as the situation with refugee kids stay unchanged. By returning to the topic of migration Valeria does not give any answer, but makes the reader to keep eyes open.

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