Separated: Inside an American Tragedy

Custom House. Jul. 2020. 416p. ISBN 9780062992192. $29.99. SOC SCI
Award-winning journalist Soboroff, correspondent and anchor for NBC News and MSNBC, reports on the Trump administration’s policy of separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border. Soboroff argues that this policy is the latest iteration of decades of harsh U.S. immigration policy, and explores its beginnings in the Obama administration. However, the bulk of the book is devoted to the Trump administration’s implementation, and the author examines documents and includes firsthand interviews in order to help bring the decision-making to light. Additionally, Soboroff describes his experiences reporting on the border, especially the border wall. His reporting inches close to those affected by family separation and he expresses regret at not finding the story earlier. Meanwhile, migrant Juan and his son Jose flee Guatemala only to be separated as they cross the border, which adds a personal dimension. As Soboroff’s reporting brings new attention to immigration policy, the backlash grows and the Trump administration rethinks its approach. Documents highlighting the policy’s effects are interspersed between chapters. Soboroff closes by reflecting on current immigration practices and implications.
VERDICT Readers interested in learning more about immigration policy will be drawn to this captivating account, which deftly weaves together the political and the personal.

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