Synopses & Reviews
FROM A DEADLY BORDER TO AMERICAS KIDNAPPING CAPITAL—THE SECRET LIVES AT THE HEART OF THE IMMIGRATION WAR Arizonas violent border is the busiest gateway for illegal immigration in America, making the state ground zero for the immigration debate. No state is as hostile to the undocumented, and no city is as unwelcoming as Phoenix. Yet Phoenix is home to thousands who live in the shadows, where civil rights are neglected and lives are lost.
Illegal sheds light on the invisible immigrants who persevere despite kidnappings and drug wars, an ongoing recession, and laws barring them from setting foot in Arizona, working, and driving. By profiling these undocumented people, and those—like notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio—who persecute them, author Terry Greene Sterling courageously exposes the dangerously tattered fabric of a divisive national crisis.
Terry Greene Sterling puts a human face on a dishonest immigration debate. The sheriff is ugly, the laws harsh and pointless, the people poor, eager, huntedand the people are our new neighbors regardless of our neighborhoods. Read this moving and surprising book before speaking out on who belongs here and who does not. Youll be happy you did.”
Charles Bowden, award-winning journalist and author of Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economys New Killing Fields
Immigration is the twenty-first centurys Grapes of Wrath. And, like John Steinbeck, Terry Greene Sterling focuses on the people of illegal immigrationvictims and perpsto show us what life is truly like on the frontlines of the immigration issue. From official neglect to rape, murder, kidnapping, and death, Sterling takes the lid off the world of illegal immigration and exposes the whole snake pit.”
Paul Perry, New York Times bestselling author, documentary filmmaker
What a vivid portrayal of the Arizona immigrant underground. Illegal is not afraid to show the bad decisions immigrants make along with their resilience and strength of spirit. This is the total picture, a heartbreaking one in a state that has chosen to demonize its Mexican residents.”
Tony Ortega, Editor in Chief, The Village Voice
No one brings you into the illegal immigration underground quite like Terry Greene Sterling. Her gritty descriptions of border crossers, transvestites, and child molesters will linger in your thoughts. Her achingly beautiful accounts of everyday people and tragic situations really stick with you. From Sheriff Joe Arpaio's bravado to a locked-up moms longing for her child, the stories in Illegal are strikingly vivid, and the authors reporting flawless. No one should even attempt to speak on the matter of illegal immigration in Arizona without reading Illegal first.”
Ashlea Deahl, editor of PHOENIX magazine
Arizona is ground zero in Americas immigration battles and Terry Greene Sterling writes about the struggles of the people involved with authority, passion and compassion. Her insights and observations are detailed with nuance and substance that cant be acquired by dropping in when the story is hot. This book and her blog, White Woman in the Barrio, reflect her ongoing commitment to telling stories about the people in addition to the policies that are front and center in the immigration wars. If you want to understand what is going on in Arizona now, Illegal is the book to read.”
Rick Rodriguez, Carnegie and Southwest Borderlands Initiative professor, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, Arizona State University
[A] prize-winning journalists vivid stories of the real people behind the stereotypes, undocumented immigrants living with the already harsh legal atmosphere of Phoenix.”
Colette Bancroft, St. Petersburg Times book editor
At times, Sterlings book reads like Shakespearean tragedy: people making difficult choices in impossible circumstances. And like classic tragedies, the cast of characters here includes opportunists, those who prey on the vulnerable, attention-seekers, and the well meaning. No wonder all of this leads to the extremes of human emotion, such as anger and rage. Throughout the book, Sterlings telling of these stories is honest and thoughtful.”
Sativia Peterson, Phoenix New Times
"...documentation of the heart of an immigration war makes for an involving, thought-provoking survey for any discussion on illegal immigration and immigration and civil liberties in America."- Midwest Book Review
Illegal immigration is a high-profile national issue, and Arizona is ground zero of the immigration war. Phoenix is second only to Mexico City as kidnapping center of the world. About 11 percent of the entire population of Mexico now lives in the USA, and Mexicans make up the the largest number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. (7.0 million) as well as the largest number of legal immigrants.
What is it like to live, work, love, and die as an undocumented person? And what is it like on the side of those determined to take care of illegal immigrants their own way?
Terry Greene Sterling enters the fearful ghettoes of Arizona, the gateway for nearly half of the nation's undocumented immigrants and the state that is the least welcoming toward them, to tell the stories of the men, women, and children who have crossed the border. She gets inside their homes, follows them to work, crosses the border with them, all to learn how the undocumented loves, works, plays, sins, fights and dies in the shadows. This book chronicles the untold narratives of the nearly invisible people who are the nations new face of immigration. It also examines the people trying to hunt them down, such as Phoenix Sheriff Joe Arpaio, famed for his roundups and mistreatment of the undocumented. In giving voice to these parties, ILLEGAL sheds new light on the nuances and dilemmas of a crisis that divides a nation.
About the Author
Award winning journalist Terry Greene Sterling has lived in Arizona most of her life, and has long reported on the political brawls and human tragedies that have made Arizona the epicenter for the national immigration debate. She was born into a cattle-ranching family that owned ranches on both sides of the border, and learned to speak Spanish at the same time she learned English. She has been a journalist for over 25 years, and has been honored with 49 national and regional journalism awards. She was named Virg Hill Journalist of the Year, Arizonas highest journalism honor, three times. She was a staff writer for Phoenix New Times for 14 years, and then branched out on her own. She is currently a contributor for The Daily Beast, and Writer-in-Residence at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. Her work has also appeared in The Washington Post, Newsweek.com, salon.com, The Nieman Narrative Digest, PHOENIX Magazine, The Arizona Republic, Arizona Highways, High Country News, and Preservation Magazine. She tweets @tgsterling and blogs about immigration in Arizona at terrygreenesterling.com.