Aida’s Story

What one woman’s life between two countries can teach us about the humanitarian crisis at the border

A 2010 Polaroid of the U.S.-Mexico Border in Douglas, Arizona (Flickr/sjrohde)
A 2010 Polaroid of the U.S.-Mexico Border in Douglas, Arizona (Flickr/sjrohde)

Aaron Bobrow-Strain is a politics professor at Whitman College with decades of history working on the U.S.-Mexico Border. His new book, The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez, mixes nonfiction and novel, ethnography and essay, to tell the tale of a single woman as she’s pulled back and forth across this imaginary line. Aida Hernandez—which is not her real name—was brought to the United States when she was in elementary school, ferried across the border from the Mexican town of Agua Prieta to its other half: Douglas, Arizona. She grew up there and had an American son, but she was deported—without him—and only made it back to Douglas  after enduring immigration court, for-profit detention, family separation, gendered violence, and a host of attendant traumas. Aida’s is not a Cinderella story, and she’s not a bootstrap immigrant fantasy. Bobrow-Strain joins us on the podcast to talk about how Aida’s life illuminates the everyday consequences of our immigration policy.

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Stephanie Bastek is the senior editor of the Scholar and the producer/host of the Smarty Pants podcast.


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