Everyone Who Is Gone Is Here: The United States, Central America, and the Making of a Crisis
Jonathan Blitzer. Penguin Press, $32 (544p) ISBN 978-1-984-88080-2
Blitzer, a staff writer for the New Yorker, debuts with a masterful portrayal of the trauma experienced by asylum-seeking migrants from Central America and the U.S. government’s often inept policy interventions. Blitzer organizes his narrative around four Central Americans, including Juan Romagoza, a doctor tortured in El Salvador for his political leanings who later cared for migrants in the U.S.; Keldy Mabel Gonzáles Brebe de Zúniga, who escaped violence in Honduras and was later separated from her children at the U.S. border; and Lucrecia Hernández Mack, a doctor and politician in Guatemala. Interwoven with descriptions of the struggles of these asylum seekers and activists is the tale of America’s chaotic immigration policy, beginning with the Reagan administration’s support of repressive anticommunist regimes in Central America (which led, according to Blitzer, to the gang violence, state repression, and unrelenting poverty that has triggered mass migration from the region). Blitzer has produced a model of long-form journalism that intertwines the personal and the political, describing how drug cartels and street gangs brought harm and death to prodemocracy activists and innocent bystanders, while those in power remained indifferent. This is a powerful indictment of U.S. immigration policy. (Jan.)
Correction: A previous version of this review misspelled the name of one of the book’s subjects and incorrectly summarized another’s biography.
Reviewed on: 10/31/2023