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UW-Madison’s Minero featured in Madison Magazine’s report, ‘Out of the shadows’

August 26, 2016

UW-Madison’s Laura P. Minero is featured in the cover story of the most recent issue of Madison Magazine.

The report is headlined: “Out of the shadows: Laura P. Minero is one of many undocumented Latino immigrants who’ve had a long journey to a better life in America — and the journey is not over.”

The fascinating and in-depth report by Maggie Ginsberg begins: “They risked everything they had for a chance at a better life. But for many undocumented Latino immigrants, entering the U.S. was just the beginning of a journey fraught with roadblocks greater than any border wall. Still, many in the Madison area have thrived, building homes, businesses and families despite the ever-present fear of deportation. They are farmhands who provide the milk on your table, the kitchen crew that prepares meals in some of your favorite restaurants or the college student seated next to you in the lecture hall. And amid the wake of rising political rhetoric against them, they’re starting to speak out.”

Madison Magazine coverMinero is a Ph.D. student with the School of Education’s Department of Counseling Psychology. This past spring she was selected as an awardee in the Ford Foundation's 2016 Predoctoral Fellowship Competition. (To learn more, check out this news story). Minero and her parents immigrated to the United States when she was 5-years-old from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.

The Madison Magazine report begins: “Terrified but determined, 5-year-old Laura P. Minero silently repeated her new false name to herself like a soothing mantra — Linda Hernandez. Linda Hernandez. Linda Hernandez. — as the burgundy van rumbled down the dusty highway toward the border city of Tijuana, Mexico. She gulped back her fear in parched swallows, sneaking glances at the strangers in the passenger seats posing as her family, U.S. citizens risking their own safety to deliver her to her papá, who was anxiously, helplessly waiting for her and her mother in California. Penniless and desperate, he’d gone ahead first to find work and though they’d been separated for only two months, it felt like an eternity. She squirmed in her seat, trying not to worry about her mamá, stowed like cargo beneath the passenger seat of some other car, somewhere else. She pushed from her mind last night’s tearful goodbyes with cousins who were more like siblings to her, raised in the same tiny house in Guadalajara, Jalisco, a city she would never see again. She’d memorized as much as a 5-year-old could about her borrowed identity, knowing she could shuck it like shackles as soon as the van was safely through border patrol and she was back in her real parents’ arms on the other side. It was Christmas Day 1995 and there was no gift she wanted more.”

The article continues: “Today, it’s easy to picture the 25-year-old University of Wisconsin–Madison doctoral student with deeply carved dimples, llama-like eyelashes and dark, swishing ponytail as the kindergartner she once was. What’s hard to imagine is the journey itself, which certainly didn’t stop at the border and — like that of so many thousands of other Mexican immigrants — led to Wisconsin. Although she’s assimilated to the point of being indistinguishable from any other student on campus, Minero’s Spanish-speaking parents still live in a tiny trailer in central California, her dad working the dairies and her mom in a supermarket, presumably for the rest of their lives. There’s no retirement option for undocumented workers (despite paying tens of thousands of tax dollars they’ll never get a return on), and upward mobility is impossible for those who can’t get a driver’s license, let alone a Social Security number. There’s no fix, either. Once you enter this country in the way Minero’s family did — crossing the U.S. border illegally became a misdemeanor crime in 1929 — there is no legal pathway to citizenship, and legal immigration from Mexico to the United States is, by all accounts, a nearly impossible process.”

But to learn much more about Minero and her remarkable journey, check out the entire Madison Magazine article for free on this web page.
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