New book explores what it’s like to grow up undocumented in the U.S.

Qian Julie Wang’s new book details her experience as an immigrant coming to the United States from China.

book cover for "beautiful country: a memoir of an undocumented childhood" by Qian Julie Wang

In many discussions, immigrants are often reduced to crude stereotypes. They’re cast as bad actors —people who want something they haven’t earned and who won’t respect the laws of our nation.

A big part of why some people flock to those tropes is because they don’t hear from a lot of immigrants, especially those who are undocumented.

Undocumented immigrants often live among a smaller group of people — only those they can trust and whom they can truly share their stories. They often live outcasted, literally and metaphorically in the shadows.

Qian Julie Wang is someone who has written about her experience as someone who was an undocumented immigrant from China in the U.S. Her new memoir is called “Beautiful Country,” and in it she explores transition, identity, and what it’s like to be a child trying to understand social boundaries when things are unfamiliar.

“At the same time that I could look up at the sky and see the Brooklyn Bridge and sparkling skyscrapers, I was also looking around me in Chinatown and Brooklyn and seeing people who were hungry just like me.” — Qian Julie Wang, author

Listen: The experience of one undocumented immigrant.



Qian Julie Wang is an attorney and author of “Beautiful Country,” a memoir about her life as an undocumented immigrant. Wang says she had to lie about many things of her life because she felt shame for being an undocumented immigrant.

“Being undocumented means there is a secret at the center of your life, that you must guard at all costs, no one must ever know about it. And by virtue of that, you can’t let anyone get too close,” Qian says.

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