Imagine a novel in which a major presidential candidate builds his platform on deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants and secures his party’s nomination. That is the basis for “Crossings: A Political Fable of the Near Future” by Sid Gardner, a novelist experienced in government service in the District of Columbia, and co-author Scott Robinson, an American who has lived in Mexico for many years and taught anthropology at a leading university in Mexico City.
Together they have written a book about the cross-border issues affecting both Mexico and the United States, with Gardner handling the American side and Robinson the Mexican. At the centerpiece of the novel are the presidential campaign of Republican businessman Ronald Mata and his agenda to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants and how that agenda affects residents and commerce on both sides of the border.
It is a tale of intrigue involving political players in both the U.S. and Mexico, complicated by the Mexican drug cartels that continue to influence politics and policy on both sides of the border — colliding, as Mata’s plan unfolds, are the presidents and staffs of the U.S. and Mexico, a Mexican journalist, a well-intentioned U.S. congressman, and religious and community leaders in both countries. It can be sampled on Amazon and what is available is a fast-paced and juicy read.
Gardner knows government and its machinations. He served as deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare (precursor to the Department of Education and Department of Health and Human Services), as a staff member of the White House Domestic Council, as director of State and Local Affairs for the Children’s Defense Fund, as an assistant to the mayor of New York City, and as an elected Republican city councilman in Hartford, Connecticut. He has served as director of the Center for Collaboration for Children at California State University, Fullerton, and has taught at seven universities. He is a graduate of Occidental College (as is his “Crossings” co-author), has a master’s degree in public affairs from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and has a master’s degree in religious studies from Hartford Seminary.
Gardner currently serves as president of Children and Family Futures, with his wife Dr. Nancy Young. The nonprofit serves at-risk youth, particularly those dealing with substance abuse.
Gardner describes himself as a liberal Republican and his co-author Robinson as more left leaning. They wrote the novel coming from two different political perspectives and literally from different sides of the border, weaving a complex and nuanced story in an era when much of the public now receives information in sound bites and responds in tweets.
“News is now ‘narrow cast,’ reported by one of many outlets, each focused on a narrow segment of the political spectrum and reinforcing a limited set of views,” said Gardner. “As a result, we no longer confront other points of view. It’s the political equivalent of ADHD [attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder].”
Gardner said that’s why he and Robinson were motivated to discuss the issues around illegal immigration and the current Trump proposal to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, with detail, nuance and facts — in novel form. “We thought this conversation was worth telling,” he said. “We wanted to show multiple characters on different sides of the issues. And Scott [Robinson] insisted that with a border story, we could not leave out the cartels. The Trump character we could do in shorthand — a blowhard inexperienced in government. But the other characters and their stories we had to craft in greater detail and with more nuance.”
Gardner and Author Series founder Eduardo Santiago appear together at 4 p.m. Sunday, July 24, on the deck of Café Aroma. There is no charge for the series.