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Youth Held at the Border: Immigration, Education, and the Politics of Inclusion

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Illegal. Undocumented. Remedial. DREAMers. All of these labels have been applied to immigrant youth. Using a combination of engaging narrative and rigorous analysis, this book explores how immigrant youth are included in, and excluded from, various sectors of American society, including education. Instead of the land of opportunity, immigrant youth often encounter myriad n Illegal. Undocumented. Remedial. DREAMers. All of these labels have been applied to immigrant youth. Using a combination of engaging narrative and rigorous analysis, this book explores how immigrant youth are included in, and excluded from, various sectors of American society, including education. Instead of the land of opportunity, immigrant youth often encounter myriad new borders long after their physical journey to the United States is over. With an intimate storytelling style, the author invites readers to rethink assumptions about immigrant youth and what their often liminal positions reveal about the politics of inclusion in America. Book Features: Engaging case studies that capture the lived experiences of immigrant youth, from secondary school and beyond. A cohesive analysis of how immigration law, education, and health intertwine to shape possible life pathways. Descriptions of educational practices that both support and disempower newcomer immigrant students. Recommendations for interrupting day-to-day practices that privilege some and disadvantage others.


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Illegal. Undocumented. Remedial. DREAMers. All of these labels have been applied to immigrant youth. Using a combination of engaging narrative and rigorous analysis, this book explores how immigrant youth are included in, and excluded from, various sectors of American society, including education. Instead of the land of opportunity, immigrant youth often encounter myriad n Illegal. Undocumented. Remedial. DREAMers. All of these labels have been applied to immigrant youth. Using a combination of engaging narrative and rigorous analysis, this book explores how immigrant youth are included in, and excluded from, various sectors of American society, including education. Instead of the land of opportunity, immigrant youth often encounter myriad new borders long after their physical journey to the United States is over. With an intimate storytelling style, the author invites readers to rethink assumptions about immigrant youth and what their often liminal positions reveal about the politics of inclusion in America. Book Features: Engaging case studies that capture the lived experiences of immigrant youth, from secondary school and beyond. A cohesive analysis of how immigration law, education, and health intertwine to shape possible life pathways. Descriptions of educational practices that both support and disempower newcomer immigrant students. Recommendations for interrupting day-to-day practices that privilege some and disadvantage others.

30 review for Youth Held at the Border: Immigration, Education, and the Politics of Inclusion

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Lisa (Leigh) Patel’s 2013 book, "Youth Held at the Border" is a case study which examines the school and life experiences of undocumented immigrant youth in Boston, MA. Patel studied Franklin High School in Boston, an all-immigrant school, for six years. She examines the personal experiences of seven students there. Patel discusses the students’ lives, both in and out of school, their family relations, and the struggles many face as children of immigrants. Youth Held at the Border consists of tw Lisa (Leigh) Patel’s 2013 book, "Youth Held at the Border" is a case study which examines the school and life experiences of undocumented immigrant youth in Boston, MA. Patel studied Franklin High School in Boston, an all-immigrant school, for six years. She examines the personal experiences of seven students there. Patel discusses the students’ lives, both in and out of school, their family relations, and the struggles many face as children of immigrants. Youth Held at the Border consists of twelve chapters, some of which, such as “Lina and Schooling”, deal with profiles of specific individuals. Others, such as “The Devil You Know”, which examines the difficulties undocumented immigrants face in paying for college, deal with overall issues, rather than specific students’ stories. In the Introduction, Patel describes her aim for the book: her perspective is shaped by her own background as the daughter of Indian immigrants. Patel also wishes to “tell… stories through the lens of a sociologist, analyzing these individual stories for information about the world we live in and the opportunities and restrictions inherent in our respective places in the world” (Patel 8). Lastly, Patel, a former teacher, hopes to examine the role education plays in immigrant children’s lives and how it often falls short. She writes that she has seen many students “[try] to understand why working hard and being a good person doesn’t always translate into being fully included in society” (8). Overall, I found Patel's format for "Youth Held at the Border" effective. Rather than base her research in lengthy scholarly discussion, she enlivens the book with depictions of individual people she meets. She describes each student’s physical characteristics, personal life, and mannerisms. Patel also allows students to speak in their own voices, a decision that I feel makes the book more readable and engaging. The students’ quotes allow for powerful moments to emerge unembellished by another’s language. For example, Patel describes a service trip the students take to the Dominican Republic, where they see tensions between the Dominican population and the Haitian immigrants. A Dominican student, Radailyn, makes an offhand comment, on seeing her tan: “‘Wow, I’m Black!’ Radailyn exclaimed” (30). Yveline, another student “phenotypically more African” than Radailyn, challenges Radailyn’s comment. Radailyn responds, “‘you should feel good about yourself, have pride in yourself’” (31). Yveline feels patronized and insulted by the careless remark, but lacks the terms to put her frustration into words. A first-generation daughter of immigrants, Patel herself recalls similar experiences. People sometimes made patronizing remarks about her mother’s accent or difficulty communicating in English. Patel identifies with Yveline’s wordless frustration. She writes, “I didn’t have the words to express it then, but I knew my mother had just been made smaller in some way” (31). Indeed, Patel’s mother has been made smaller in that the strangers do not allow her to speak in her own words. They make judgments about her as though she is a quaint attraction, rather than an adult woman with her own thoughts. Patel does go on to phrase Yveline’s frustration in scholarly terms, but only after representing those feelings in Yveline’s own words. As Yveline asks, “‘Why does [Radailyn] think I don’t have pride in myself?… I can’t even say why it makes me mad. And you know what? That makes me even more mad” (31). Patel chooses to include Yveline’s exact quote, rather than rephrase an adolescent’s language in scholarly terms. Patel allows Yveline, as well as the other students she profiles, to speak in her own terms in a way often denied to immigrants. This decision also allows Yveline to exist as an individual with her own stories and experiences, rather than a mere talking point for Patel’s own scholarly analysis of race relations. Nonetheless, though Patel asserts that she wishes to depict the students in her book fully and realistically as human beings, she often makes generalized judgments about the American college students she juxtaposes with the immigrant youth. Patel seems to believe every student at Boston College is white, rich, monolingual, and in possession of an expensive smart phone. In the chapter “Rethinking Contact Zones”, Patel even writes approvingly of an undocumented immigrant student’s reaction to the college students, “‘They don’t work as hard as we do, do they?... How come some people got it so good when they may not be as smart?’” (106). As Patel proves, the immigrant youth work incredibly hard, both in school and often at full-time jobs after school. However, she has no right to assume that, just because a student attends a prestigious university, he or she is wealthy and does not have to “work hard”. Patel thus groups all university students into the same neatly-defined categories she so resists in using to stereotype undocumented immigrants. Patel has no way of knowing whether some students at the university live in poverty and attend on scholarship, or how many languages they speak, or whether or not they work jobs outside of school. Some may also appear white, but have various racial backgrounds. Not every college student fits Patel’s generalized mold. I am myself a university student from a white, middle-class family in the suburbs, but I speak three languages: English, Spanish, and Russian—and, incidentally, do not own a smart phone. While I acknowledge that I have never had to work full time to support myself and my family, as many immigrant students do, I have worked jobs throughout high school and college. As a US citizen, I certainly have privileges that undocumented immigrants do not, but Patel seems to believe that most college students are entitled, elitist, and ignorant. Patel is compassionate and sensitive in her depiction of the injustice undocumented youth face living in the US and trying to pay for college. Yet, at the same time, she makes vicious, broad judgments about the lives and work ethic of university students based on their appearing white and well-off. This dichotomy is deeply disturbing and represents, for me, an area of hypocrisy in Patel’s work. "Youth Held at the Border" focuses strongly on education in today’s society. As a teacher, it is crucial to see one’s students as individuals with their own stories, just as Patel sees the students she interviews. Patel writes that Franklin High School is, in some ways, a microcosm of the American education system: “The school in these pages should stand on its own for its unique features and also be read as emblematic of patterns of opportunities lost and seized in every high school” (5). Though Patel cautions readers against generalizing Franklin High, there do exist universal aspects of the human experience in the school. These experiences reflect, in Patel’s view, the “opportunities lost and seized” in all schools. Education is a powerful tool and can open great possibilities to students. However, teachers must also be aware of the problems and inequalities in society which complicate the “American Dream”. Patel often cites issues with the idea of “meritocracy” in America. Many students are told from a young age that, if they work hard, they deserve to achieve success. Nonetheless, because of the isolation and discrimination they often face, particularly if they are undocumented, immigrant children often experience unfairness in the meritocracy system. Educators must question how to make their classrooms places of equal opportunity, regardless of race, class, and documentation status. In "Youth Held at the Border", Lisa (Leigh) Patel profiles several immigrant youth in the US as they navigate the challenges of schooling, documentation, and prejudice. Patel allows these children to speak in their own voices, as individuals, not mere statistics. She illuminates the problems inherent in the idea of the American Dream, as undocumented youth often struggle to go to college because they must pay international student rates and send money home to families overseas. Patel’s book is a valuable reminder that, while education can reshape class boundaries, it cannot do so without a society open to change.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Liz Murray

    I'm not able to write a comprehensive review of this book at this stage but I'll link to an excellent review that highlights and analyses key points in this powerful exploration of immigrant youth in the Northeastern US. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10... I'm not able to write a comprehensive review of this book at this stage but I'll link to an excellent review that highlights and analyses key points in this powerful exploration of immigrant youth in the Northeastern US. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    This concise book is by far the best book I've read on immigrant youth in the U.S. From the cover I assumed it was about the Mexican border. Instead, I found a book set in the Boston Public Schools, where I taught for 17 years, that describes a border that is a legal, rather than a physical border. Patel is a participatory qualitative researcher, and the stories of these youth and her analysis are cutting edge. Her analysis of immigrant issues in education is profoundly reinforced by the life st This concise book is by far the best book I've read on immigrant youth in the U.S. From the cover I assumed it was about the Mexican border. Instead, I found a book set in the Boston Public Schools, where I taught for 17 years, that describes a border that is a legal, rather than a physical border. Patel is a participatory qualitative researcher, and the stories of these youth and her analysis are cutting edge. Her analysis of immigrant issues in education is profoundly reinforced by the life stories of the youth she works with throughout the story. She portrays generous, courageous teachers and principals, and heartless, bureaucratic principals whose bottom line is test scores. Although I know a great deal about these issues, I learned a great deal from this book, including more about the impact of the Obama Administration policies which upped deportations to a very high level, and how No Child Left Behind serves to undermine these young immigrants' promise and potential. My description makes it seem like a more political book than it is. Rather, the political points are embedded in these young people's stories, which Patel, herself a child of immigrants, who speaks Spanish, tells in a compelling way.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Daniela

    Great stories of immigrant youth. Not quite an ethnography, would say its too journalistic for that. Also, a great portrait of how a culture of caring helps at-risk high school students succeed.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    A) Read it. B) Patel's explanation of why she does not use the word "illegal" to describe people made me exclaim, "Hell yes!". A) Read it. B) Patel's explanation of why she does not use the word "illegal" to describe people made me exclaim, "Hell yes!".

  6. 4 out of 5

    Melissa fetzer

  7. 4 out of 5

    Molly Hamm

  8. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bryan Shepard

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lucía González

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kaleigh Battle

  12. 5 out of 5

    katie

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ellen Clark

  14. 5 out of 5

    Christie

  15. 5 out of 5

    Derek

  16. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia Gaytan

  17. 5 out of 5

    kelly

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kristen Peck

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Fegely

  20. 4 out of 5

    Joe Whitson

  21. 5 out of 5

    Anna Leversee

  22. 5 out of 5

    Peyton Del Toro

  23. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra

  25. 5 out of 5

    Moriah Covey

  26. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Spagnuolo

  27. 5 out of 5

    Taylor Knuth-Bishop

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sam

  30. 5 out of 5

    Raenell

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