A project of the Center for Community Change

Underground America – Narratives of Undocumented Lives

Sexual assault, enslavement, no medical care — Peter Orner, author of an oral history of illegal immigrants, discusses the nightmares experienced by this vulnerable population.

Check out this article written on Steve Orner’s recently published book, UNDERGROUND AMERICA that chronicles the stories of undocumented immigrants.

The small Texas town where I live, Marfa, is the home base of one of the largest U.S. Border Patrol sectors, covering 165,000 square miles and encompassing 25 percent of the U.S.-Mexico border. From my house, I can hear the Border Patrol headquarters’ intercom, alerting agents to calls on line two or line three; their green and white patrol cars are everywhere, around town and throughout far west Texas. It’s a daily reminder that we are living on the edge of a line in the desert, a line that Homeland Security is vigilant about protecting — keeping certain people in and certain people out. A line that migrants will spend thousands of dollars, countless days and untold psychological turmoil trying to cross in an attempt to make it into America.

So it’s fitting that writer Peter Orner was recently working in Marfa as a writer-in-residence for the Lannan Foundation, a literature and arts foundation in Santa Fe, N.M., that offers a residency program here.

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