Home Review

By | Tuesday, October 17, 2023 Leave a Comment
I just heard about/read Julio Anta and Anna Wieszczyk's Home from 2021. It was originally a five-issue series, with a collected edition following up a few months later. I suspect that, if your 2021 was like mine in any capacity, you may have missed hearing about it too.

The story follows Juan Gomez, a young boy whose mother tries to immigrate to the United States with him. Once they make it to the US, however, they're forcibly separated and held in literal cages for processing. Eventually, while his mother is sent back to Guatemala, Juan breaks out with some heretofore unknown super powers and is able to connect with his aunt. His displays of power, though, are barely under control and he manages to attract a lot of attention from ICE, who see him as a violent threat. When they start shooting at him, his aunt and her two adult children intercede with their powers and they manage to escape into hiding. Local officials take to the airwaves to publicly offer protection, but readers learn in the closing pages that those promises are flat-out lies.

The events of the book take place pretty squarely during the earlier part of the Trump presidency. No dates are given, but the quotes are unmistakable. And so it should come as no surprise that Juan and his family are treated to bigotry and racism from pretty much every government official they encounter in part because that was the official policy from that administration, but it's also abundantly clear that virtually every agent is 100% on board with treating immigrants as something very much less than human. Their comments are almost comically racist. Except that you hear exactly those things coming from any number of people. Even White House officials at the time. For as much as we may have heard about the children in cages and absymal treatment of immigrants, what is heard less often is how much they were denigrated and abused (both verbally and physically) by the ICE officials with every interaction.

And I think that's a lot of what Home is trying to show. It's that all of these immigrants were not subject to poor conditions because of inadequate funding or misallocated resources or "a few bad apples." They were treated like garbage because the people who run the organization -- up and down the whole chain -- think these people are literal garbage. They want to punish them for existing. They want to exercise cruelty for the sake of it. What Anta and Wieszczyk are showing here is what they cruelty looks like.

And you might think, "OK, sure, Trump's presidency was awful and he attacked everyone who wasn't rich and white. But that's over and done with. Joe Biden became President in 2021 before this book came out, and that's all over now."

No. No, it isn't.

As of September 24, there were over 35,000 immigrants being held in detention by ICE, 70% of which have no criminal record of any kind. Over 43,000 people have been deported back to Guatemala alone. And crucially, how many of the people who were working for ICE in 2020 are still there? This doesn't make the news the way it did in, say, 2019 but it is absolutely still happening every day. Don't get me wrong -- Biden is still worlds and away better than Trump in every conceivable way, but he is still authorizing at-best-dismissive treatment of immigrants. Remember all those "Abolish ICE" placards? They don't get photographed as much now, but they're absolutely still valid because ICE has very much not been abolished; it's continuing on pretty much as it had before.

Home came out from Image in 2021, and should be available through most bookstores who can order it if they don't have a copy in stock. The book retails for $16.99 US.
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