Nobody Wants To Leave Their Country: New Immigration Lessons From An Old Virginia County

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Creative Nonfiction


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This thesis, Nobody Wants To Leave Their Country: New Immigration Lessons From An Old Virginia County, examines how the current immigration situation in Prince William County, Virginia, mirrors the demographic changes taking place across the country as the population continues to grow and diversify. The manuscript follows the stories of different Prince William County residents as a method of exploring historic immigration patterns that began long before the nation was founded, the current situation surrounding illegal immigration, how political concerns and cultural attitudes impact immigration laws regulating who can come to America, and how those policies often have failed to live up to the nation’s ideals. The nonfiction narrative uses personal interviews, historical research, polling data, and academic studies to illustrate how the circumstances taking place in Prince William County likely will be replicated in communities across the country. The issue initially arose from an influx of Latino immigrants into Prince William County seeking jobs and housing. Then it was reflected in the reaction to unaccompanied minors from Central America housed at Youth for Tomorrow, a Christian school founded by former Washington Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs. Finally it played out in the death of a nun from a Benedictine order founded to serve immigrants. Situated in the outer suburbs of Washington, D.C., Prince William County represents a microcosm of the nation, showing us where we’ve been, where we’re going, and how we can respond to the changing demographics that have always defined what it means to be an American.