This New Mexico Bookstore Started a Drive to Bring Bilingual Literature to Immigrants on the Border

Lead Photo: Books organized in bookshelves. Photo by Dong Wenjie / Getty Images
Books organized in bookshelves. Photo by Dong Wenjie / Getty Images
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In New Mexico, Latina author Denise Chavez started a book drive to provide bilingual titles to children and adults awaiting their immigration cases on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Libros Para el Viaje, or books for the journey, aims to provide people with literature that could inspire and comfort them on their immigration journeys.

“Our commitment is to deliver books to our children, young people and adults wherever they are housed,” Chavez told U.S. News & World Report.

Chavez, who also owns the Latino bookstore Casa Camino Real in Las Cruces, came up with the idea in May, when a friend came to her looking for English/Spanish dictionaries for immigrants temporarily staying at a nearby shelter. Chavez began donating publications to that center and several others.

Following President Donald Trump’s controversial “Remain in Mexico” policy, which forces people to stay in camps in the county while they await their immigration hearings, Chavez expanded her efforts, teaming up with Border Servant Corps to bring gifts to immigrants on the border.

“The waiting is very hard and a book will help that,” she said.

Libros Para el Viaje has seen national support, with book donations from the American Booksellers Association, more than 50 bookstores, university literature departments as well as from authors.

The books, which can be new or used but in good condition, go to immigrants directly as well as to a small library serving Mexican youth in the impoverished community of Anapra, which borders New Mexico.

Chavez, along with volunteers, takes monthly trips to the library, providing storytelling sessions to young people who eagerly crowd the room.

“We’re on a journey, all of us together as human beings,” she said. “We’re on that road and we need to reflect on the fact that we’re all familia. We’re all connected to each other.”