Amor and Exile Year-In-Review 2013

An Amor and Exile Year-In-Review, 2013 timeline

2013 was a big year for Amor and Exile and for the pro-immigration movement. Brush up on the issues of the past year with this Amor and Exile Year-In-Review for 2013.


Obama administration announces stateside waiver processing, creates relief for some families (Take Two, Southern California Public Radio)


Action for Family Unity collage of photos of families separated or in exile due to immigration law
Action for Family Unity collage of photos of families separated or in exile due to immigration law





  • “Send Amor and Exile to Washington” campaign raises over $12,000 and delivers a copy to every member of Congress, the nine Supreme Court justices, President and First Lady Obama and Vice-President Biden and other D.C. officials
  • A&E featured on the News and Politics section of BlogHer (
  • Nicole and Nathaniel launch A&E on the East Coast with the first public readings at AILA D.C. headquarters and Ukazoo Books in Baltimore, MD
  • Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) calls for relief for exiled/separated families with colleague letter supporting Amor and Exile (
  • Nathaniel launches A&E in Boise at Hyde Park Books, with Nicole skyping in from Querétaro (
  • SB 744 passed in the Senate (New York Times)
  • A&E discussed in “All About Family” (Baltimore Jewish Times)
  • Nathaniel’s work as Idaho journalist and A&E highlighted (Idaho Press-Tribune)
June collage
Clockwise from bottom L: Constituent letters to Congressional reps; Nicole and Nate meet with Rep. Luis Gutierrez; Nicole and Nate after hand-delivering over 100 copies of A&E; Nicole on Capitol Hill; Nicole at Ukazoo reading in Baltimore; Nicole, cover designer Gilad Foss and Nate in Baltimore; Nate and Margi Hoffman mailing books to D.C. officials; and the audience at the A&E launch at Hyde Park Books in Boise, ID.


  • Nicole launches A&E in Mexico with Nathaniel skyping in, starting in Querétaro at the Casa del Atrio (
  • A&E and Nicole’s story covered in Boulder, Colorado (Boulder Weekly)
  • Nathaniel hosts reading at the American Friends Service Committee in Denver with a call-in by Nicole
Top: Nicole at La Casa del Atrio reading, Querétaro, México; Nicole and friends of A&E at the Querétaro reading
Top: Nicole at La Casa del Atrio reading, Querétaro, México. Bottom: Nicole and friends of A&E at the Querétaro reading


  • Reading in San Miguel de Allende, home of J.W. Lown, profiled in A&E
  • Edgar Falcon marries on the border in highly publicized wedding on the El Paso/Mexico border (Texas Tribune)
August collage
Clockwise from top: San Miguel de Allende reading, Nicole with supporter at SMA reading, U.S. citizen Edgar Falcon marries Mexican citizen Maricruz Valtierra at U.S./Mexico border in August.



  • HR 15, a comprehensive immigration reform bill largely based on SB 744, is introduced in the House of Representatives (
  • Nathaniel shares A&E at the International Institute of the Bay Area on October 24th
  • A&E and Nicole and Margo’s story featured on PRI The World (PRI The World)
  • Rift surfacing between some immigration reform activist groups (
  • House Reps Pearce (R-NM) and O’Rourke (D-TX) sponsor the American Families United Act (AFU website)
Amor and Exile in October 2013
Nathaniel signs copies of Amor and Exile at reading at the International Institute of the Bay Area in October.


  • Nicole and Margo’s story featured alongside series of profiles of SF Bay Area immigration activists (SF Bay Guardian)
  • Town-hall discussion of A&E and immigration issues at Rediscovered Books in Boise and Baltimore event co-hosted by Chizuk Amuno and Beth-El congregations (
  • Illegal Immigration and Marriage,” discussion of A&E with Nathaniel and Nicole on “Midday with Dan Rodricks” (
  • Pre-Thanksgiving Reading of A&E in (Nicole’s hometown of Syracuse, NY (Post-Standard |
Amor and Exile in November 2013
Clockwise from upper L: Nate on the air with Nicole on the Midday with Dan Rodricks show; Nicole skyping in from Mexico with Deyanira and Ben at Rediscovered Books reading; the audience at the RD Books reading in Boise; the audience at the reading at the Jefferson Clinton Hotel in Syracuse, NY; Nicole and her grandmother, Thelma Kinney, at the Syracuse reading, the day before Thanksgiving.


  • Immigration reform officially “dead” for 2013 (Hispanic News Network)
  • Fight for comprehensive immigration reform shaping up for 2014 (Grand Island Independent)
  • A&E available on Kindle in the Amazon Prime Lending Library
  • A&E has sold over 1,000 copies and hosted 14 public readings in the U.S. and Mexico in its first six months.
  • Giveaway days planned in January to coincide with the start of the Congressional session, to help elevate the debate on immigration reform—stay tuned!

Recent events and press for Amor and Exile

The Rediscovered Reading, Boise
Deyanira, Ben and Nicole at Amor and Exile reading at Rediscovered Books in Boise.

Amor and Exile: True Stories of Love Across America’s Borders has been featured at several public events and earned media spots across the U.S. in the last month.

Screen Shot 2013-11-16 at 7.23.22 PMIn September, Amor and Exile received a positive review from immigration lawyer Teresa Statler in AILA Voice, a quarterly publication of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (September/October 2013 issue, Reader’s Corner, pg. 17). In her review, “Love in the Time of Deportation and Many More Heart-Wrenching Stories,” Statler had this to say about Amor and Exile: ‘Salgado movingly speaks of her own and of other Americans’ ‘disenfranchisement’ and exile abroad due to the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act… Hoffman’s legal information is very accurate, thanks to several AILA members with whom he consulted while writing this book… Let us hope that in this time of potential immigration reform, members of the House especially read these gripping personal stories of immigration and feel moved to make changes in the law that are long overdue.’

In events, on October 24th, Nathaniel joined the International Institute of the Bay Area in San Francisco, CA for a wine and cheese reading and discussion. Nicole skyped in long distance from Piedra Grande, Edo. Mexico, where she was leading a volunteer training for Peace Corps Mexico. Both authors dialogued with the audience about the challenges of life in exile and the hopes for immigration reform.

rediscovered2Prior to the event, on Tuesday, October 22, Amor and Exile went global on PRI The World, a program of the BBC, when Jason Margolis, a reporter with PRI released his story featuring Nathaniel and Nicole’s work in: “American citizens, in love and in exile, are waiting for immigration reform,” a 5-minute radio spot with accompanying transcript. Immediately following the SF event, Nathaniel was also interviewed  on KQED, a local San Francisco NPR station, about his work with Amor and Exile.

The first week in November, Amor and Exile was featured at the Krieger Schechter Day School Book Fair in Baltimore, Maryland (map). Later that week, on November 7th, Nathaniel and the staff of Rediscovered Books in Boise, Idaho hosted a town hall style discussion of immigration reform featuring the stories of Amor and Exile and others like them (map). Nicole joined the discussion via Skype from Mexico. Also in attendance were Ben and Deyanira, one of the couples from the book, who recently returned to Idaho from a 3-year exile in Mexico; Leo Morales, communication director of the ACLU of Idaho; and Ashlee Ramirez, a representative of American Families United (AFU), an organization that supports HR 3431, the American Families United Act. Ramirez was in Idaho meeting with Idaho Rep. Raúl Labrador, a Republican who is seen as key to any progress on immigration reform in the House.

A few weeks later, Rebecca Bowe, a reporter with San Francisco Bay Guardian, profiled Nicole for an article she was writing about SF Bay Area immigration activists. Nicole’s story was included in the series of profiles of undocumented activists because although she herself is an American citizen, she is a former SF Bay Area resident now in exile due to immigration law, now “agitating from exile.” The article, “Undocumented and unafraid,” came out on Tuesday, November 12, 2013, and Nicole and Amor and Exile are highlighted on pgs. 1, 6, and 7.
This Thursday, November 21st, Nathaniel and Nicole will participate in the radio show Midday with Dan Rodricks (WYPR), a Maryland-wide, live public-affairs talk show, to discuss the book, and promote the Chizuk Amuno reading on November 24th. The show will air from 12 to 1 pm EST, with callers and email questions and will be streamed live at the link above.

Be sure to check out, share and/or comment on one of the above articles and learn more about recent activity in Congress regarding family reunification oriented immigration reform. And view our Events page to catch one of our upcoming events.

On reporting and identity

A few weeks ago, I sat in the basement studio of Boise’s brand new community radio station discussing #OccupyBoise with eight or nine people who were fired up to cover the movement in some way. The radio station has only been on the air for about six months and we don’t have a local news segment established yet, but two talented and creative volunteer DJs who host mostly music shows wanted to report on the surprisingly robust Boise wing of #Occupy. Part of our discussion was whether or not the guys had been “too involved” in the organizing of the marches and general assemblies in Boise to credibly report on the phenomenon.

I am very reticent to judge who is credible to report on anything these days, as I think journalism ought to be—and is—judged more for the character of its content than for its pedigree. Also, I am just a volunteer at Radio Boise as well, bringing my decade of experience in the mainstream and alternative media to the table to help establish a news department at the station. Furthermore, community radio was doing consensus and direct democracy work before hash tags were even invented, so I was not about to make any decrees about who can report on what. But I did suggest that anyone who wanted to report on #Occupy Boise ought to be very clear on their involvement in it—both to themselves and to the public.

Jose Antonio Vargas defines American

Jose Antonio Vargas, the undocumented reporter who is reporting on immigration through his own new organization, Define American, has done just that, and he comes off as extremely credible. Vargas, borrowing from journalism prof Jay Rosen, calls this style of journalism “The View from Somewhere“—the idea that our experiences and biases and power of ideas make our journalism more interesting and useful. But Vargas, while clearly advocating for justice in his own case and in the case of millions of immigrants stuck in what a large majority of Americans believe is a “broken” system (in whatever way they feel it may be broken), has made the clear distinction that he is a reporter first. He is taking on the role of investigator, critic, chronicler and working in the realm of ideas first and foremost. It is a great feeling of liberation—a graduation of sorts—to move from the he said/she said, transcriptionary, third person, “fair and balanced” approach that young reporters are still taught at newspapers across the country to realizing that the reporter has thoughts and feelings and a mind as well and that his or her thoughts and feelings matter.

I worked as an immigration reporter in the mainstream system for about six years, first at the Idaho Press-Tribune, a small town paper in Idaho’s second largest city, just west of Boise. It was my first real job and the place that I learned how to be a newspaper reporter. And I quickly realized, perhaps because I had moved to Idaho from the East Coast, that there was a large population of Latinos who were excluded from the community in many ways, including in the pages of the newspaper. So I created my own beat: the Latino beat and started writing about farmworker labor issues, offering farmworker perspectives, publishing short A&E (Arts and Entertainment) pieces in Spanish and English on cultural events and music in the Latino community and looking into bilingual education in the schools.

But my first inkling that I was not going to make it as a straight up newspaper reporter came when I witnessed an act of blatant racism at a city event before the annual rodeo—the biggest show in town. The story was supposed to be something like “City Council Excited for 75th Annual Rodeo” or something like that. But I returned to the newsroom with a much better story: “City Councilman Pans Black Rodeo Clown with Fried Chicken and Watermelon Jokes.” The newsroom was not equipped for such a story questioning the town’s most sacred traditions. There was literally no newspaper mechanism to get that information on the front page the next day—I, the reporter, was the only witness who was talking. But to their credit, my editors let me write an op-ed about the experience for the weekend paper, after the rodeo was over, if I recall, and it generated record numbers of letters to the editor, some urging me to go back to where I came from and others thanking me for pointing out the overt yet unspoken racism in the community.

That’s just one example of how the view from somewhere ought to work; the op-ed, or whatever we called it, should have run on the front page the next day.

In Vargas’ call to action for reporters to take a new line on immigration, he refers to the nefarious role that FAIR and the Center for Immigration Studies have played in media coverage of immigration for the last decade or more. The groups, part of the Tanton Network, espouse what I consider to be an anti-immigrant or racist position but masquerade as think tanks or mainstream policy groups and get quoted all the time.

Vargas cites a Republican source:

FAIR, CIS and Numbers USA have “played an outsized role in speaking for conservatives. They’ve had an outsized role in this debate. They’ve framed the debate in their terms and that’s been really unfortunate,” Robert Gittelson, a Republican businessman, told me.

I have quoted them and I knew at the time that it was an intellectually dishonest thing to do, but my editors wanted to know what the antis had to say so I had to make the call. In 2005, I wrote a story for the Contra Costa Times, where I was the Immigration and Demographics reporter, about a woman whose husband was undocumented and had gotten stuck in Mexico after tending to his sick mother. It was a great story and one of the early inspirations for Amor and Exile. But I was forced to add these two lines to the story:

But for advocates of stricter immigration enforcement, having a family is no excuse for breaking the law.

“The illegals need to either get on the path to get their citizenship squared away, or they shouldn’t be here in the first place,” said Rick Oltman, western field director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

In those two sentences, my only chance to frame Oltman’s comments were in my definition of his camp: strict enforcement. At least the tone of Oltman’s comment speaks for itself and he is not the focus of the story in any way. Vargas generously refers to the Tanton network groups as the “anti-immigration reform community.”

Despite my discomfort with these mainstream journalistic habits of framing stories in terms of conflict and stripping the pyramid of any personality, they are difficult habits to unlearn. It’s taken me several years as a freelancer and at an alternative weekly to come out of my shell and it’s still hard for me to write lengthy, self-referential blog posts like this one. But I’ll give one more example of how it can be done before getting back to #Occupy.

I went into coverage of the Tea Party phenomenon in 2009 with the same (kind of boring) questions that are being asked of #Occupy today: What’s this all about? And I wrote about it with some degree of personality (snark) at first and then with an all-out opinion formed from spending the time talking to people at many Tea Party rallies in Boise in this post entitled Tea Party Inspired by Racial Fears. My point is that I was neither for nor against the Tea Party or the Tea Partiers. I was acting and writing as an informed observer, staking out an informed position and offering readers a viewpoint that they could make use of. Many of my friends showed up to protest the protestors, but my form of activism has almost always been through the media. I suspect that is the way Jose Antonio Vargas views his activism—an informed observer with a lot to say about immigration in the United States. Though his coverage may well serve to rally the public—as good journalism should—it is journalism first, not preaching or protest.

So my advice to my friends at Radio Boise was this: you can have opinions and stances on #OccupyBoise and present them as news reporting if they are well developed and fair. You can let the marchers and occupiers speak for themselves on the air and call it news reporting. You can do any number of creative audio reports from the rallies and marches and call it news reporting. But you can’t claim to be part of #OccupyBoise and still call it news reporting (even if the movement is leaderless and tries to embrace “99 percent” of America), because that’s called public relations or propaganda and it’s not fair to news consumers and it’s boring.

It remains to be seen if we will break in the news department at Radio Boise with a story on #Occupy, but one thing we all learned is that despite the democratization of the media through the internet, journalism is still hard in two ways: it’s a daily applied ethics debate and it’s damn hard work.

Nicole to address Boise forum on life in exile

The Exploring Amor and Exile Last Thursday Series, in partnership with Boise City Arts and History Department Artists in Residence Program at 8th Street Marketplace, presents A Slice of Life in Exile at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday August 25, 2011 at the Cole/Marr Coffee and Photography Workshop.

Nicole and Margarito

Amor and Exile coauthor and native New Yorker Nicole Salgado will share a slice of her life in exile in Queretaro, Mexico, where she’s lived for the past 5 years with her husband Margarito and their daughter, who was born last fall. Along with Salgado’s slice of life in exile, you will hear readings from popular blogs by other Americans in exile because of their partners’ immigration woes. Salgado will narrate a photo slideshow, share a recipe from her cookbook, The Bajio’s Bounty, and field Q&A from the audience. Join us!

Event details:
Thursday, August 25, 7:30pm – 9:00pm
The Cole/Marr Photography Workshops
404 S. 8th Street, Lower Level
Boise, ID
FREE (beverages and snacks available for purchase from our lovely hosts)

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for future announcements!