The Weight of Shadows: A Memoir of Immigration and Displacement

May 12, 2016

On this River to River segment, host Ben Kieffer talks with José Orduña, author of The Weight of Shadows: A Memoir of Immigration and Displacement. In his book, Orduña tells his family's story of emigrating from Mexico and reflects on the process of becoming a North American citizen in a post-9/11 United States.

Orduña says that even after becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen, he still has feelings on injustice and anger towards the system.

"I hear phrases like, 'getting in the back of the line' or 'doing it the right way,' and there really is no line, there really is no right way. The ways and avenues to immigrate legally are all extremely exclusionary and they’re designed to only let a select few in," says Orduña, "and for the most part it’s for so-called high skilled workers and people with a lot of money. So the people who really need to migrate, are the ones who are most excluded."

In his memoir, he also analyzes the impact of Ronald Reagan’s comprehensive immigration overhaul in 1986, as well as Operation Gatekeeper, the 1994 Clinton-era measure aimed at halting illegal immigration at the United States–Mexico border near San Diego.