Poet and playwright Gary Soto has spent a good part of his life writing about the migrant laborers he grew up with in the San Joaquin Valley. In a new play set to run at San Francisco’s Marsh Theater, Soto decided to tackle the newest generation of immigrants: the undocumented students struggling to stay in school and keep their parents from being deported. We talk to the poet and the theater’s co-founder about this new work, as well as some young immigrants trying to stay in the United States.

Gary Soto, poet, playwright and author of 11 poetry collections including the poem "Oranges" and the play "In and Out of Shadows," for the Marsh Youth Theater
Emily Klion, director and co-founder of the Marsh Youth Theater
Putri Siti Dyannie, undocumented student from Indonesia who was interviewed for the play "In and Out of Shadows"
Adan Ruiz, former undocumented immigrant who is now a permanent resident and actor playing the role of Juan One in the play "In and Out of Shadows"

  • Roistacher

    Progressive terminology seems to have mutated from “illegal alien” to “illegal immigrant” to “undocumented immigrant” to your use today of “so-called undocumented student”. If we push the envelope just a bit further, we can get to “self-naturalized American” to “self-naturalized American citizen” and even to “self-naturalized American aristocrat”. This is not about respect for people; I strongly support immigration reform. It is about respect for language.

  • Sanfordia113

    If enough people will support it, I would encourage our politicians to pass a Constitutional Amendment to make immigration bureaucracy unnecessary. Fire all the employees in ICE and USCIS. However, the guests on the program deserve nothing other than jail. They have broken laws and deserve no rewards. If they go home first and apply to come LEGALLY, then they will be warmly welcomed.

  • ineffablem

    The parents failed in bringing their kids here illegally. There is a process if you want to become a citizen–it may not be easy–but there are rules and people who honor the law work towards attaining citizenship.
    In addition, they fail their country of origin–and it’s citizens–by not putting in the work to reform the country–to make it have more of the attributes they say they value. And for your guest, reality is, what it is. His feeling of being a citizen is just that, a feeling. I may feel that someone else’s property is mine, but that does not correspond to reality.

  • disqus_uxKfUY5s3g

    Some callers talk about legal immigration, but it took me, as an american citizen, 10 years to get my son a green card…

  • B Malmskog

    I am here as a legal immigrant, and I have a lot of compassion for the children who were brought here illegally by their parents. But people who come in undocumented, broke the law. Yes lets help get them legal status, and see what can be done to prevent this in the future.

  • TrainedHistorian

    More of the same muddled nonsense that created the problem of millions of “undocumented” here in the first. It’s not enough to legalize someone brought illegally as a child, which is supposedly not the child’s choice, if you listen carefully, the guests also object to the fact that their parents are also considered “undocumented” and therefore are discriminated against, i.e. do not have the same rights as legal residents or citizens. But the only thing that would solve this “problem” is to completely eliminate the distinction between legal and illegal residents,which will lead to practically unlimited immigration here, which will destroy the economic standard of living here because unlimited labor supply growth leads to lower wages. There are two choices: either you have a distinction between legal and illegal workers, a large middle class and a welfare state (as we had 1945-1975), or you let everyone in who wants to work here. But then you will not have much of a middle class or much of a welfare state any more: you will what you have in much of the develping world today and had this country too c. 1900-1925 (when we had practically unlimited immigration from Europe and the Americas) : a very large population hovering around subsistence and a small rentier/capitalist class that lives off their very cheap labor, .

  • Jesus Castillo

    What is incorrect about the term “illegal immigrant”? My mother was an illegal immigrant for many years…though eventually she became a naturalized citizen. However, “illegal immigrant” is an accurate descriptor of her status for many years. The drive to euphamism is a disservice to honest considered debate and leaves a taint of hypocracy. I have no issue whatsoever with immigration or immigrants and I am not judging the character, nor am I unsympathetic to, any individual illegal immigrant. As far as I can tell, the legal immigration process is not broken and I am unsure what “immigration reform” is actually necessary. The “reform” that is absorbing so much attention is largely about how to resolve the issue of so many individuals that are currently residing in the US, and accurately labeled, as illegal immigrants. That is not an overall immigration policy and process issue…it is a particular circumstance!

  • gdata

    I do not agree with giving priority to “undocumented” people. I think there is some politics in this move. I am a naturalized citizen who followed the rules and gained my status legally, because I always gave my effort to stay here legally. I know some people who are undocumented and I sympathized with them. Some of them are in a difficult situation that they do not have much control over it. But I also know some people knowingly break the rule to take advantage of public service that the US provide.
    I do not understand how some “undocumented” people demands the same services the citizens/PR get? Like some other people commented, if that’s the case, what is the point of being citizen/PR? Just open the gate for everybody. I understand that government have to provide basic needs like medical care in emergency cases. But there are other services that only legal citizens receive, because they contribute (i.e. paying tax)

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