Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives Themes

Orner, Peter
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Criminality

Many of the narrators in Underground America defend themselves and their presence in the United States by criticizing the harshness of the punishments that they face. Under the federal law of the United States, entering the United States without the approval of an immigration officer constitutes a misdemeanor and warrants punishment involving fines and/or up to six months in prison. Overstaying an originally valid visa constitutes a civil violation most often handled through deportation. Throughout Underground America, several of the narrators face--and protest--these punishments, arguing that they have been punished excessively for a relatively minor crime.

Although they admit that they broke the law in coming to the United States, many of the narrators draw a distinction between their crime and more violent criminal acts. For example, Diana, who is detained, says that, “I know that by coming here illegally they break the law. But they don...

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This section contains 2,933 words
(approx. 8 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives Study Guide
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