Peter Geniesse grew up in northeastern Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in journalism. During the 1960s he worked as a lay missioner in northern Chile and began developing his interest in social justice issues.
Geniesse worked for many years as a newspaper reporter and editor; he traveled to numerous countries on writing assignments, including Nicaragua, Haiti, and Cuba. His most recent book, Illegal: NAFTA Refugees Forced to Flee, examines reasons for the migration of large numbers of undocumented Latinos, many from Mexico.
Personal note from author Peter Geniesse:
“For much of my life, I have advocated justice for the little guy, the poor, the downtrodden. It all started when I attended a four-month, language and culture course, overseen by Msgr. Ivan Illich in Cuernavaca, Mexico. I was a Papal Volunteer – we called it the Catholic Peace Corps – and I later served three years among the poor and the social activists in Antofagasta, Chile.
In late 1965, I returned to the U.S., landed a reporter job with a newspaper in Appleton, Wis., and for the next 30 years I sought ways to put my social justice interests in my work. As an editor I traveled on assignment to numerous Third World countries – Nicaragua, Cuba, Haiti, Vietnam, India among others – to tell their story of the poor and restless.
I helped sponsor several refugee families, and one turned into a book, “Cuc: Flower of the Delta.” It’s about Vietnamese boat people who resettled in Wisconsin. I traveled to Vietnam in 1994, accompanied by a young woman and her Vietnamese husband, who had spent half their lives in the U.S. and were on a quest to rediscover their roots.
My second book, “Illegal: NAFTA Refugees Forced to Flee,” published in 2010, was spurred by my 50 years of chronicling Mexico in newspapers and magazines. The project was enhanced when my son married a Mexican girl and gave me three bilingual grandsons.
“Illegal,” I believe, is a must read for anyone who’s interested in justice for all immigrants. I lived the border experience and traveled throughout the country, as tourist and reporter. I’ve also been involved in Latino immigration issues in the U.S., serving as chair of an immigration task force in the Fox Valley.”