The Undocumented Americans

by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio

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How do you analyze the "Staten Island" chapter in The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio?

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The author of the chapter "Staten Island" in the book The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio gives an account of her experience as an undocumented immigrant. In this chapter, she describes how Staten Island has been a place where many hate crimes have taken place against immigrants such as herself. One of the most shocking things about these hate crimes is that they are carried out by black men who often target immigrants such as those who come from Mexico. This adds a touch of complexity to the issue, because it shows that there is not always solidarity between all nonwhite groups. It is important to recognize that this chapter is deeply personal and connects to many other stories of undocumented immigrants.

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In analyzing the chapter "Staten Island" from the book The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, one should recognize this as a deeply personal account by the author of her own experiences of being an undocumented immigrant.

Cornejo Villavicencio's account in this chapter of how she came to the United States from Ecuador and her initial struggles to make ends meet in New York connects her to the many other people whose stories she tells in the book.

The author's account of her own life and that of her immigrant parents fits in with those of many others who've come to the United States as undocumented immigrants. As a consequence, it becomes possible to speak in general terms of an undocumented immigrant experience, one to which all undocumented immigrants can relate.

Part of that collective experience concerns racism against Latinx people. Staten Island, the richest, whitest borough in New York City, stands as a symbol of this hatred. It's the place where Eric Garner, an African American man, died after being held in a chokehold by a police officer.

But long before this, when she was a kid, Cornejo Villavicencio heard about hate crimes in the borough. What's particularly shocking about these crimes is that many of them are carried out by Black men against Mexicans.

This adds a touch of complexity to the issues raised in this particular chapter, and in analyzing "Staten Island," it's important to take this complexity into account. There may be a collective experience among undocumented immigrants, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they get along with other nonwhite communities.

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