U.S.-Mexico border holds tragic immigrant stories. A new L.A. exhibition lets them speak out.
R.J. Palacio-Quintana is an associate professor of political science at UCLA and a former reporter for the L.A. Times. He is the author of six books, including “The Border: America’s Troubling Migration From the Mexico-U.S. Divide.”
For the last three years, the border has been the hot-button issue in the United States. In September 2008, I wrote a story about the crisis in a L.A.Times slideshow titled “U.S.-Mexico border crisis reaches a humanitarian tipping point.” Then, in May 2010, the House of Representatives passed an immigration reform bill that gave almost all illegal immigrants a path to legal citizenship.
The response to that bill was overwhelmingly negative. The American people rejected what they perceived as a solution that would allow a flood of illegal immigrants to come into the country and wreak havoc on American society.
The Senate tried to address the problem with a bipartisan compromise bill called the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, but it failed to gain traction.
In January 2012, Americans had their fill of the border crisis, electing an unapologetically pro-American president, who took office the following month. His new immigration policy, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, was seen as a major breakthrough for the conservative movement in the nation’s capital. Under DACA, illegal immigrants could now receive an unconditional two-year work permit, which would allow them to take jobs that were off the table under the prior iteration of illegal immigration reform.
But when DACA officially launched on February 14, 2015, it caused quite a major public controversy in the U.S.
Although the policy had some positive spin, and many people welcomed it, the program’s implementation was met with a furious backlash from progressives, who criticized the program as a �