A brave Honduran boy makes an unforgettable journey to find his mother in the United States. His mother leaves Enrique when he is just a little boy and 11 years later, Enrique wants to find her and understand why? His travels are hostile and full of thugs, bandits and a corrupt police force. Enrique and other immigrant travelers often cling to the sides and tops of trains, and carry very little. It takes courage and hope. The author, Sonia Nazario, is an award-winning journalist who embarked on the journey herself from Honduras through Mexico in order to better relate and write the National Best Seller, Enrique’s Journey.
Facts – Afterward of the book: Page 241 + [The information from this point is all from Enrique’s Journey. They are the findings of Sonia Nazario and opinions of Enrique and Lourdes themselves.]
“An estimated 1.7 million children live illegally in the US, most from Mexico and Central America” (Pg. 241).
“Throughout Latin America, even in traditional societies such as Mexico, where most legal and illegal migrants to the United States come from, divorce and separation are increasingly common. That promises to produce more single mothers who feel forced to make the same choices.” [Migrating to the United States and leaving their children]
Is it good for the migrants themselves, for the countries they come from, and for the United States and its citizens?
For immigrants – there are material benefits they can gain from coming to the United States. Women are able to find relatively higher paying jobs, which allow the ability to send money and material goods to their children. This money goes towards food, an education, clothes, and to help the relatives taking care of the children. In the United States, lower income housing is still better than what housing can be in countries such as Honduras. One example of a housing benefit is the water quality and indoor plumbing.
There are some drawbacks, according to Enrique, of living in the United States. He lives in fear of being deported at any time. He is prone to racism because of his race and the American made stereotype of illegal immigrants and anyone who may appear Mexican. Life in America is too hurried. The biggest downside is the effect that parent-child separation has on the family. Conflicts in the children can be seen in the schools and administrators work together to help med the damage caused by the years of separation. Children try to find love in other places such as getting involved in gangs or pregnancy and living with the boyfriend. These trends are much more common in children who have been reunited than children who were born in the United States.
Outflow of workers keeps unemployment from climbing higher in the US.
According to Lourdes, “Immigrant labor is the engine that helps drive the American economy. Immigrants […] work hard at jobs no American wants to do, at least not for minimum wage with no health benefits or paid vacation time. Immigrants’ willingness to do certain back breaking jobs at low wages provides goods and services to all Americans at reasonable prices” (pg. 252).
Immigrants send one in ten dollars they make back to their home country. This brings $30 billion a year to Latin America alone. The cash flow makes 15% of El Salvador’s gross domestic product.
Immigrants also learn skills of a more technologically advanced country. They bring back lower levels of tolerance for corruption and the demand for a democratic society. Because of the desire to communicate with families back home in Latin America, there have been improvements in telephone and internet services.
“36,000 gangsters in Honduras come from families in which the mother migrated north.”
Overall, immigrants use more government services than native-born. They have more children, and therefore a higher use of the public school system. Immigrants are poorer, have lower incomes and qualify for more state and local services and assistants. Their US-born children are entitled to welfare, food stamps and Medicaid. Because immigrants earn less money and are less likely to own property, they pay lower taxes. Some receive salaries in cash, therefore paying no taxes at all.
“Each year, the United States legally admits nearly a million people, more than twice as many as in the 1970’s. Another 700,000 arrive illegally, up from 200,000 to 300,000 a year in the 1980’s to early 1990’s” (Pg. 251).
“More than six in ten residents of Miami and four in ten of Las Angeles are from another country” (Pg. 251).
Immigration has affected public services: Classrooms, hospital emergency rooms, jails. In Los Angeles County, jails have had to release prisoners early because of overcrowding cause by criminal immigrants.