Citizenship

Authored by: Belinda Linn Rincón , Suzanne Oboler

The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature

Print publication date:  August  2012
Online publication date:  October  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415666060
eBook ISBN: 9780203097199
Adobe ISBN: 9781136221613

10.4324/9780203097199.ch13

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Abstract

In Helena María Viramontes’s Under the Feet of Jesus (1995), 13-year-old Estrella experiences the anxiety of an immigration raid on the labor camp in which her family works. Estrella’s mother tells her that she is safe and if La Migra “tr[ies] to pull you into the green vans, you tell them the birth certificates are under the feet of Jesus” (Viramontes 1995: 63), the statue that sits upon the altar in their shack. The legal protection and the implied religious blessing of that document are more than enough to legitimate Estrella’s rights. Yet, for Estrella’s mother, her labor as an itinerant worker further justifies her children’s right to belong. “Don’t let them make you feel you did a crime for picking the vegetables they’ll be eating for dinner,” she tells Estrella. Rather than having to “carry proof around like belly buttons” (1995: 62) in order to assert their legal right to be in the United States, the mother emphasizes instead their connection to the earth, a claim that supersedes the territorial boundaries and control of the state.

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