Illegal immigration to the United States is a severe issue for all of the parties involved in the process. The migrants have to go through serious trials in search of the American dream, in the desire to reunite with families, or to be at the place where they can afford food and shelter. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the current immigration system and discuss possible solutions to emerging problems, integrating Sonia Nazario’s book Enrique’s Journey into the analysis.
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Enrique’s Journey raises substantial obstacles and describes the harsh reality that the migrants from Central America face on their journey to the US, traveling across Mexico. The major character of the book, Enrique, was left by his mother in early childhood, who, with the help of a smuggler, went to America to be able to support her children financially. It is terrifying to read about such a painful life story of a family, realizing that there are numerous families like that one in real life.
The feeling that children get by being abandoned by their parents, the inner fights that parents have as they are unable to keep their promises about reunion touch one’s heart sincerely. Enrique had a problematic life, changing his family members’ houses, not experiencing a mother’s love, which made him a rival and developed a drug addiction in the boy (Nazario 32). Besides showing the dangers and fears of migration, the book represents the outcomes of the separation from parents.
One might mention that one of the significant characters in the book was Enrique’s uncle Marco, who, unfortunately, did not stay in the boy’s life for a long time. With the appearance of Marco, there was a light in Enrique’s future. He experienced love and care, which he hadn’t seen before from his family. Death of his uncle became another loss in Enrique’s life, and later, he stopped believing Lourdes’, his mother, promises that she will come for Christmas, which strengthened the emotional distance between them. The boy started having the idea that he should go and find his mom in the US (Nazario 28). Numerous losses, unacceptance of his fate, rivalry, and resentment became inseparable from Enrique.
Having a family of his own already, Enrique took numerous attempts in crossing the border to the US, before succeeding. On his way the boy saw the beatings, robberies, corruption of the police, savagery of the gangs, dangers of traveling on the trains, the unfairness of the smugglers, harassment over other migrants. The whole horror that the migrants have to face can be observed in a straightforward phrase of the author, “the robbery has turned into blood spot” (Nazario 46). Enrique’s Journey portrays the full picture of the immigration, introduces many characters, like those who suffer from the immigration police, those who are the merciless gang members, or those who are just kids.
The issue of immigration has been raised in various articles and researches. Although it is difficult to identify the precise number, the population of unauthorized immigrants who live on the territory of the US is high. According to Warren (2), there were about 11 million illegal immigrants, from whom the more considerable part came from Mexico and Central America. The research conducted by the Migration Policy Institute found out that more than 5 million children who live in America have at least one undocumented parent (Mapp and Hornung 1).
In her book, Nazario describes how Lourdes got pregnant while being in the US already and gave birth to a daughter, Diana. It is an example of a legal American citizen, a small girl, living with a mother who is unauthorized to be in this country. Thus, there is a possible danger of children being separated from their parents if the immigration police catch them.
Among the significant matters the immigrants meet on their way, Enrique’s Journey also talks about the sexual harassment, to which the girls are endangered. Besides, human trafficking is within this issue and has many implications. Very often, the victims are not aware that after the smugglers help them cross the border, they will demand services of sexual nature from them. They manipulate the girls with the fear of deportation, getting a hold on their passports. According to Still, “frequently, these girls are victims of abuse, both sexual and physical, and of extreme manipulation” (art. 4). Nazario makes several references to the problem of sexual harassment, and, taking into consideration that the story is based on real-life, it is a sign that this complication requires serious attention.
Although it would be wrong to judge whether immigration is a negative thing or not, the authorities keep on working to reduce its level. Throughout several decades various measures were implemented and considered to decrease the flow of immigrants to the USA. Strict procedures were performed on the sight of the Mexico-the US border control, many walls and fences were built, and many cameras were installed. As Payan writes, “it is nearly impossible to cross the border without being detected” (88). Numerous vehicles that control the border, and they will stop the illegal crossers immediately. Thus, facilitating border security became one of the measures taken to minimize the number of people who want to migrate without legal documents.
Besides tight border control, there are different reforms concerning the flow of immigrants and their asylum. Bier, for example, suggests several alterations that can help to manage the system. Among them, there is a possible solution for the immigrant in the USA who cannot reunite with their children. Bier offers to implement the legalization of illegal immigrants who do not have any criminal record (Bier). This procedure will provide them with a better status, opportunities for better jobs, and possibilities to bring their children and fulfill their promises. For instance, if Lourdes, the character from Nazario’s book, could be legal when Enrique was still a kid, all of the troubles and frustrations could be prevented.
In conclusion, discrimination, children’s inability to stand up for themselves, and continuous assaults keep happening in the lives of the immigrants. Some of them keep moving towards their goal, while there are people who are so full of depression and despair that they want to return home. Enrique’s Journey portrays that the treatment of those who wish to cross the border get is beyond injustice. Smugglers, gang members, and Mexican police make it extremely challenging and hard to make it safe and unharmed to the US for the children who seek reunion with their parents. In her book, Nazario opens up serious and at the same time, heart-piercing problems that continue to occur today and that need essential consideration.
Bier, David. “Legal Immigration Will Resolve America’s Real Border Problems.” Cato Institute: Policy Analysis, no. 879, 2019. Web.
Mapp, Susan, and Emily Hornung. “Irregular immigration status impacts for children in the USA.” Journal of Human Rights and Social Work, vol. 1, no. 2, 2016, pp. 61-70.
Nazario, Sonia. Enriques Journey: the Story of a Boys Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with His Mother. Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2014.
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Payan, Tony. The Three US-Mexico Border Wars: Drugs, Immigration, and Homeland Security: Drugs, Immigration, and Homeland Security. ABC-CLIO, 2016.
Still, Alexandra. “Solving human trafficking between Mexico and the United States.” Pepperdine Policy Review, vol. 9, no.1, 2017, art. 4.
Warren, Robert. “US undocumented population drops below 11 million in 2014, with continued declines in the Mexican undocumented population.” Journal on Migration and Human Security, vol. 4, no.1, 2016, pp. 1-15.