Citizens in All But Name

On the climb to middle-class acceptance, the Valenzuelas have all their tickets punched, save one. They own a growing used-tire shop and two cars. They rent a tidy, three-bedroom home in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley. Their four children maintain B averages in public schools. They pay Social Security and income taxes and keep a clean credit rating. All the family lacks is permission to live in America.

The Valenzuelas entered illegally from Mexico, chasing their American dream through a hole in the border fence near Tijuana on a moonless autumn night almost ten years ago. In contrast to the popular...

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