Almost Home: A Brazilian American’s Reflections on Faith, Culture and Immigration

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With passions running high on immigration and pitched defenses mounting on both sides of the question, the actual stories of immigrants get lost in the broader debate or simply become a backdrop to fierce ideological battles and arguments. That’s why we thought that you might like to hear about a new book by H. B. Cavalcanti, Almost Home: A Brazilian American’s Reflections on Faith, Culture and Immigration.  It is a reflection on migration by someone who lived it for 30 years, first as an immigrant, now as a citizen. Here’s what the author has to say:

My book showcases the dynamics of relocating to another country from the point of view of a Latin American immigrant. Framing the advantages and disadvantages of migration in light of personal findings along with scholarly data on migration, the book addresses both individual and policy-related immigration issues.

A personal timeline of migration introduces readers to factors in both “sending” and “receiving” countries that contribute to relocation. In the case of Latin Americans, living under military rule was one reason we left our countries of origin.
“Latin America’s great tragedy is that there isn’t a woman or man my age in the region who has not lived under military rule. In fact, the arbitrary and capricious use of military power in domestic affairs has been a hallmark of our homelands. While the American citizen enjoys the safety of the Posse Comitatus Act, which forbids the American armed forces from domestic law enforcement operations, Latin American populations are and have always been at the mercy of their own military’s whims. From one end of the continent to the other, always employing the latest in weapons technology and military training, Latin American soldiers have waged war on their own people since our countries’ independence days.” (p. 29)

The personal timeline describes life in the country of origin, factors that contribute to migration, the arduous process of naturalization, the difficulties of immigrant parenting, and the struggles to integrate oneself into a different culture. The personal impact of immigration on those who relocate is presented through the struggles immigrants face as they try to live in two different cultural worlds at the same time:

“Very few migration studies explore this duality of strangeness. But we immigrants know it well. It comes up whenever we gather, at work or leisure. We are constantly reminded of what it takes to navigate both worlds. We know which parts of us are missing when we visit home, and which are missing as we return to our new nation. We identify with certain things local residents of one place or the other do, and dislike others. We dwell in that netherworld created by the cherry-picking of elements from disparate cultures. Our identities always carry this mix of traits that are appreciated by both, and also traits that make us strangers to either group. Wherever we immigrants are, we share the same sense of wonder and frustration with the way we fit our surroundings.” (p. 67)

The overall purpose of my book is to show what is at stake for both individuals and nations when the immigration process is reviewed on its own merits. Confronting the current hyper-partisanship surrounding the issue, Almost Home presents arguments about the challenges and opportunities of immigration that go beyond the ideological solutions often peddled in the current debate.

Please click here to order your own copy of the book.