My husband Jim and I were having dinner with Quaker author and friend, Brent Bill, and we were discussing our current writing projects. I asked Brent, "Do you think there is a new audience for my book, A Migrant with Hope?" Brent responded in the affirmative, and encouraged me to write a proposal and present it to a publisher. I had been thinking about re-issuing my book ever since immigration and migrants had become a major issue in the 2016 presidential campaign. It was important for me to share my story again, but with updates on my personal life and a critique of current immigration policy. I was very upset by the current president's rhetoric about persons along our southern border being rapists and murderers.
I prepared my new book proposal, and it was immediately accepted by Smyth and Helwys Books. I knew about this publisher through my friend Jim Autry, who had worked with them a few years ago, and they seemed to be a perfect fit for my book. With a contract signed, I went to work on re-writing my book, this time with photos and added material to bring my story up to date.
In the Introduction I write:
I was born in Brownsville, Texas, one block from the United States/Mexico border. I am forever grateful to my mother for postponing my birth until after we had crossed the Rio Grande River from Mexico to Texas! At the time my parents had been visiting relatives, and they were on their way back to the United States to join other Mexicans who were farm laborers. I am the daughter of migrant workers.
The six chapters of my book are:
- My Home on Wheels
- Settled Migrants
- The Experience of Disownment
- A Sign of Hope
- A New Life
- Life Passages and Hope in Despair
The Epilogue focuses on the Social Justice Minute on Immigration and Family Unity, which was approved by Cincinnati Monthly Meeting and Wilmington Yearly Meeting:
The headline in the New York Times was startling: "Hundreds of Immigrant Children Have Been Taken from Parents at U.S. Border." The article brought back a memory I had tried to forget. During one of our many trips to and from Mexico, I was separated from my parents and left to take care for my brothers. I did not know where the uniformed men had taken my mother and father, but my brothers and I were left to fend for ourselves. We were reunited after only a few hours, but I will never forget the terror and fear that I experienced from what felt like a long separation.
What are we doing with these children in cages at our border? What has happened to America that we criminalize poverty...that we criminalize hunger? The great scientist and Frenchman, Louis Pasteur, has said, "One doesn't ask of one who suffers, what is your country and what is your religion? One merely says, you suffer. This is enough for me. You belong to me and I shall help you."
You suffer. This is enough for the community of Cincinnati Friends Meeting who drafted a Minute of Social Justice on Immigration and Family Unity...
The Minute, which is printed in full in the Epilogue, concludes:
We are lifted by this call for action by the Spirit that sees God in everyone and by these words from Quaker Bayard Rustin, who said, "Surely I must at all times attempt to obey the law of the state. But when the will of God and the will of the state conflict, I am compelled to follow the will of God."
I am grateful that the story about my life, which I began to tell 40 years ago, has had the opportunity to be updated and refined from the perspective of a more mature writer. My friend Brent Bill, who helped me envision a new edition of A Migrant with Hope two years ago over dinner, has been kind and generous in his endorsement of the newly completed product: "This moving, truth-telling book needs to be read by every pastor, church leader, politician, and person of faith who is concerned about the plight of migrants in these dangerous times."
Elizabeth's book is available from Amazon.