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Sonia Nazario

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author & Journalist

An award-winning journalist, committed to tackling some of this country’s most intractable problems, author and activist, Sonia Nazario, is a leading advocate responsible for generating national attention to critical social issues including immigration, hunger and drug addiction. With more than 20 years of reporting and writing about social issues for the Wall Street Journal and…

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An award-winning journalist, committed to tackling some of this country’s most intractable problems, author and activist, Sonia Nazario, is a leading advocate responsible for generating national attention to critical social issues including immigration, hunger and drug addiction.

With more than 20 years of reporting and writing about social issues for the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times, she is best known for Enrique’s Journey, her story of a Honduran boy’s struggle to find his mother in the U.S. Honored with more than a dozen awards, including a Pulitzer Prize for feature writing, the national bestseller is now required reading at high schools and colleges across the country.

Her coverage of the detention of unaccompanied immigrant children at the Honduran border in 2014, published in The New York Times, garnered global attention and led to Nazario addressing the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, as well as appearances on leading media outlets, including The Daily Show, Anderson Cooper 360, and Al Punto with Jorge Ramos.

A dedicated community leader and social activist, recognized for her significant humanitarian efforts, Nazario serves on the boards of various prominent organizations, including Kids In Need of Defense, a non-profit launched by Microsoft and Angelina Jolie to provide pro-bono attorneys to unaccompanied immigrant children. In 2015, she was honored with the Don and Arvonne Fraser Human Rights Award from the Advocates for Human Rights.

Nazario is an authentic and engaging speaker, captivating audiences with empowering narratives about the importance of making a difference and encouraging discussion around important global issues, including immigration, racial discrimination and U.S. foreign policy.

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    Unequal Justice: Immigrant Children & US Courts
    Last year, about 30,000 children entered the United States illegally and alone from Mexico and Central America. This year, the number is expected to grow by 70%. These children were caught by US Border Patrol and ordered to go to immigration court to see if they would be allowed to stay in the US legally or would be deported.

    Like all immigrants who come to the US unlawfully, children are not entitled to a public defender. So more than half of them – children as young as two years old – go to court alone. They are expected to argue their case for asylum or other relief to stay in the US with no legal advocate by their side. Many of these children have legitimate fears of being harmed if they are deported to their home countries.

    Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Sonia Nazario will discuss:
    What is this nation’s responsibility to provide legal help to the children? Do children who have broken the law coming to the US illegally deserve government legal help?
        The increasing violence and other factors pushing a surging number of these children to leave their home countries – Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico – and travel to the US alone, often gripping on the tops of freight trains to make this modern-day odyssey to reach the US. They face bandits, gangsters, corrupt cops, and the added dangers of getting on and off moving freight trains. Many lose their lives in their quest.

    Nazario discusses these issues in a personal way, having spent three months riding on top of freight trains through Mexico to report her national bestselling book, Enrique’s Journey: The Story of a Boy’s Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with His Mother. Some are coming to reunite with family members, but many are fleeing harm in their home countries. She shows how after so many traumas in their home countries and on their journeys north, immigrant children face another blow: the American judicial system.

    Nazario provides a provocative look at whether our nation’s immigration courts deal fairly with perhaps one of the most vulnerable populations amongst us: children who come to the US illegally and alone.

    Enrique’s Journey & America’s Immigration Dilemma
    Using Pulitzer-winning photographs, Sonia Nazario takes you inside the world of millions of immigrant women who have come to the US as single mothers, and the children they have left behind in their home countries in Central America and Mexico. She discusses the modern-day odyssey many child migrants—some as young as seven, all of them traveling alone—make many years later riding on top of freight trains through Mexico on their quest to reunify with their mothers in the US.

    Nazario, who spent three months riding on top of these trains to tell the story of one child migrant named Enrique, shares her story in the context of determination. She discusses the role of determination in her own life—in overcoming the death of her father at age 13, living through parts of the Dirty War in Argentina, and overcoming major travails in college to ultimately become the youngest person hired at The Wall Street Journal and one of a handful of Latinos to win the Pulitzer Prize—as well as in the lives of the migrants she wrote about.

    Unlike many who speak on this topic, Nazario sees immigration as an issue with many shades of gray, with winners and losers.

    In Praise of Ganas (Persistence)
    Yes, passion and risk taking can get you far. But to Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist Sonia Nazario, persistence has been the key to her success. This presentation is an ideal convocation or commencement speech in praise of ganas—Spanish for persistence.

    Making Ethical Choices
    As a journalist, Sonia Nazario often feels like a “fly on the wall,” watching difficult situations play out without being able to take action herself. Because of this, the stories she has written over the years have frequently been featured as case studies in half a dozen textbooks on journalism and ethics.

    This presentation is an exploration of the ethical dilemmas a journalist faces, in which Nazario shares her experiences making ethical choices. She accompanies her speech with a PowerPoint of photographs.

    Narrative Writing: How to Construct a Compelling Story

    Videos

    Sonia Nazario Ramapo College Opening Convocation Speaker

    Sonia Nazario - A Voice for the Voiceless

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