Lower Merion High School senior Liliana Velásquez recently had her memoir Dreams and Nightmares/Sueños y Pesadillas published by Parlor Press and will be hosting a reading, discussion and book signing on Thursday, May 18 at the Narberth Bookshop at 7:00 p.m.
At the age of fourteen, Velásquez fled horrific violence and poverty in Guatemala and headed out alone for the United States. On her trip through Mexico she was robbed by narcos, rode the boxcars of La Bestia, and organized 30 of her fellow Central American bus passengers to convince the Federales who had arrested them to allow them to continue on their way. Finally, she made it to the U.S. border and traveled across the Sonoran Desert, where she encountered death and was caught by U.S. immigration.
After four months in a detention center, she was placed in foster care while the courts decided whether to deport her. She spent a year in in a horrendous foster situation and eventually landed on her feet with a family that loves and protects her. After having to recount her story of abuse several times, the judge determined it was too dangerous for her to return home and finally granted her a green card. Now a senior at Lower Merion, Velasquez works to support her family back home and plans to attend nursing school in the future.
Each year since 2013, an average of 50,000 such unaccompanied children have been arrested at the U.S. border, and their fate is decided by the immigration system. Velasquez's story is uniquely hers, but it is also the story of tens of thousands of children who have fled violence and poverty in their home country to make a safer life in the United States. In this time when the issue of undocumented immigrants is causing great divisions in our country, much is written about them; but little is told by them in their own voice.
Come here the remarkable story of Liliana Velasquez at Narberth Bookshop (located at 221 Haverford Avenue in Narberth) on Thursday, May 18. Refreshments will be served at 6:30 p.m. with a reading and discussion beginning at 7:00 p.m.