Immigrant raids, detentions, deportations. We read about it in the local news, but rarely do we get to know the people behind the headlines. That's where James E. Garcia comes in. A journalist, Arizona State University professor, and playwright, Garcia uses his literary talent to put a human face on the immigrant drama that is played out every day in downtown Phoenix.
The characters of his plays include day laborers, children torn from their families by immigration raids, and Mexican-Americans struggling with their own identities. We particularly liked Dream Act, a play about a smart young woman brought to the United States as a child by her undocumented parents. She aspires to go to medical school, but is blocked by her immigration status. Then there's Garcia's new play, The Tears of Lives, which follows three children who are left to fend for themselves when their father is caught up in an immigration raid. Based on true events, the children survive on their own for nearly a month before they are finally discovered and helped by local activists.
Garcia started writing plays in 2004, drawing upon his experience as a journalist. "Writing plays is the perfect combination of letting your imagination run wild and having an editorial opinion about the climate," he says. "Pretty much everything I've created onstage is also a commentary on the world I'm living in." Sounds good to us.