The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez
What happens when an undocumented teen mother takes on the U.S. immigration system? When Aida Hernandez was born in 1987 in Agua Prieta, Mexico, the nearby U.S. border was little more than a worn-down fence. Eight years later, Aida’s mother took her and her siblings to live in Douglas, Arizona. By then, the border had become one of the most heavily policed sites in America. Undocumented, Aida fought to make her way. She learned English, watched Friends, and, after having a baby at 16, dreamed of teaching dance and moving with her son to New York City. But life had other plans. Following a misstep that led to her deportation, Aida found herself in a Mexican city marked by violence, in a country that was not hers. To get back to the United States and reunite with her son, she embarked on a harrowing journey. Taking us into detention centers, immigration courts, and the inner lives of Aida and other daring characters, The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez reveals the human consequences of militarizing what was once a more forgiving border. With emotional force and narrative suspense, Aaron Bobrow-Strain brings us into the heart of a violently unequal America. He shows us that the heroes of our current immigration wars are less likely to be paragons of virtue than flawed human beings who deserve justice and empathy all the same.
This event is part of The PEN America Immigration Track at the 2019 Decatur Book Festival. Free and open to the public, the annual Decatur Book Festival takes place in more than a dozen venues throughout downtown Decatur. To learn more, click here.
Aaron Bobrow-Strain is a professor of politics at Whitman College, where he teaches courses dealing with food, immigration, and the U.S.-Mexico border. His writing has appeared in Believer, The Chronicle of Higher Education Review, Salon, and Gastronomica. He is the author of White Bread: A Social History of the Store-Bought Loaf and Intimate Enemies: Landowners, Power, and Violence in Chiapas. In the 1990s, he worked on the U.S.-Mexico border as an activist and educator. His most recent book is THE DEATH AND LIFE OF AIDA HERNANDEZ: A Border Story, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in April 2019.