Spare Parts tells the unlikely but inspiring true story of four Arizona teens, all undocumented immigrants from Mexico, who joined their high school’s robotics team and went on to win the Marine Advanced Technology Education national championship in 2004. The story is pure Hollywood—and indeed, a film based on the book was released last year. But it is not all uplift: Davis deftly juxtaposes the team’s success with the political backlash faced by undocumented immigrants all over the country. Nor is the story a clear testament to the transformative power of education. A decade after the competition, some of the U.S. citizens who were runners-up in the contest now hold jobs at NASA and Exxon. The undocumented winners have not fared as well: one is a janitor, another is a cook, and a third spent a year picking beans in Mexico before finally gaining U.S. citizenship. The specter of deportation haunts them and their families, just as it will continue to haunt all undocumented children in the United States as long as the U.S. Congress fails to pass the Dream Act, which would grant permanent residency to many of those who were brought to the United States as children and know no other home.
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