In Homelands: Four Friends, Two Countries, and the Fate of the Great Mexican-American Migration (Bloomsbury, June), journalist Corchado illuminates the lives of Mexican immigrants in America over the past three decades.
How did the idea for this book come about?
It’s the book I’ve always wanted to write. Most journalists say they want to write a book—I’ve always said I want to write about the Mexico within the U.S. I wanted to write it for my parents and for the millions of people who are here in the U.S. who paved the way for my generation to come here and make something of ourselves.
How did the book change or take shape while you were writing it?
I wish I could I say that President Trump didn’t have an impact. The original title for the book was Shadows at Dawn. But after the election, I called my publisher to say I’m going to need more time given the circumstances. And he said, “Yeah, I think you’re going to need a new title, too.” I didn’t think much of it at the time. A few months later, I sent my friend the first draft, and he said that title is just not going to work. “You keep saying, ‘Shadows at Dawn’—as Mexican immigrants right now, you are anything but a shadow. There’s a big spotlight on you. You guys have been outed.”
How do you see your role as a journalist covering immigration?
When you have these overarching stories about NAFTA, IRCA [Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986], etc., that talk about smugglers entering the country, its easy for me to think of these people as people I know. I mean, some of them are friends of the family or neighbors even. During my years at the Wall Street Journal and Dallas Morning News, I like to believe I was able to help readers by bringing these stories to them. You want to bring life into these issues. You want to move people. Frank Allen, my boss at the Wall Street Journal, would challenge us to make sure the morning readers’ cornflakes look soggy. You want them to get that sucked into the story.