In the overheated debate about immigration, voices of the immigrants themselves are seldom heard. Underground America changes that with a dramatic reading of oral histories by undocumented immigrants that reveals the harrowing ordeals and heart-rending choices they must make every day.
A discussion follows with a panel of experts, who will address the legal, economic, and humanitarian issues surrounding the immigration debate.
Peter Orner is editor of the book Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives (McSweeneys, 2008), part of the Voice of Witness series. He is the author of the novel, The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo, a Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and winner of the Bard Fiction Prize. His story collection, Esther Stories, won the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. A 2006 recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Orner's work has appeared in the Pushcart Prize, Best American Stories, The Atlantic Monthly, and the Paris Review. Born in Chicago, Orner is currently an associate professor at San Francisco State University.
Sarah Paoletti heads up UPenn Law's Transnational Clinic where students explore the lawyers work in settings that cut across cultures, borders, languages and legal systems.
Jaykumar Menon is a human rights lawyer and a writer. He is a fellow at the Center for International Sustainable Development Law, housed at McGill University in Montreal and associate editor of Underground America.
Moderator: Judith A. Bernstein-Baker, executive director of HIAS and Council Migration Service of Philadelphia
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