The Human Faces of Global Migration


In a new book, journalist Jason DeParle brings the polarizing issue of global migration to life, making room for a more nuanced, complex, and empathetic conversation.

Migration is rising worldwide. Driven largely by economic forces, climate change, and unstable government systems, the movement of migrants is unlikely to slow down. But too often, this story is told through the staggering numbers only: 270 million migrants worldwide.

In his new book, A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves: One Family and Migration in the 21st Century, Jason DeParle spotlights the human center of this story. His sweeping, intergenerational epic tells the remarkable 30-year journey of a single Filipino family as they migrate from the shanties of Manila, to Abu Dhabi, and then eventually to Galveston, Texas.

Their journey is a testament to one family’s perseverance, patience, and sacrifice. DeParle, who covers poverty for The New York Times, calls it the greatest poverty success story he has ever witnessed. But this journey is one that only contemporary forces of global migration could have made possible, and in this way, DeParle says, the United States should be proud of such success. “It's good for your country to be the place people go to make dreams come true,” he writes in the book. This story is ultimately a reminder that the American promise can be made new, time and again.

DeParle, who was an Emerson Fellow at New America, recently stopped by the Emerson Collective office to discuss the new book. Watch an excerpt from the conversation below.