“We are last names only. We are numbers.” From the first page of this account of a mother from Guatemala being separated from her sons at the southern U.S. border, readers are drawn into the wrenching impact of American immigration policy on parents and children.
The Book of Rosy chronicles the experiences of Rosayra Pablo Cruz, a shop owner, writer and mother of four. After the murder of her husband and a shooting attempt on her life, Cruz fled Guatemala in 2014, leaving her three oldest children behind with her mother. After gangs threatened to kidnap her eldest son, Yordy, she returned. Cruz made another attempt to flee in April 2018 with 15-year-old Yordy and Fernando, age 5.
Cruz describes making the 2,300-mile journey over eight days and nights, packed in the back of a truck with other refugees. In an ICE detention center in Arizona, officials separated her from Yordy and placed her with Fernando in a frigid cell. Within days, she was informed her sons would be sent to a different facility, a transfer that took place at 2 a.m. Yordy and Fernando ended up far away, placed with a Spanish-speaking foster mother in the Bronx. Eventually, the efforts of Immigrant Families Together, a group of activist mothers who raise money to post bond for detainees like Cruz, reunited her with her sons.
Interspersed with Cruz’s story is Julie Schwietert Collazo’s account of her 2018 decision, in response to the Trump administration’s family separation policy, to establish a grassroots group that would become Immigrant Families Together. The group has worked to reunite more than 80 families.
Simultaneously published in Spanish and English, The Book of Rosy offers an unflinching look at conditions in U.S. detention centers and a sobering reminder of the power of policy to change the course of lives.