A vivid, shocking, and provocative story about 26 “walkers”—migrating Mexican men who suffered and died in the Arizona desert on May 19, 2001—The Devil’s Highway is a profound work of nonfiction by Luís Alberto Urrea. Born in Tijuana to a Mexican father and an American mother, Urrea understands the contradictions and absurdities at the U.S.-Mexico border. While Urrea clearly wants the reader to learn about the walkers’ humanity and motivations to leave Mexico, he leaves it up to readers to arrive at their own conclusions about their coyotes and guides. Sometimes Urrea sympathizes with the walkers’ main guide, while in other instances, he paints him as the villain. When it comes to the Border Patrol, Urrea also focuses on their humanity. The Border Patrol agents are filled with “rage [at] the deaths of the illegals lured into the wasteland and then abandoned by their coyotes.” While it is gratifying to learn that the Border Patrol agents have a heart, Urrea falls short of painting the whole picture. Even a decade later after its publication, The Devil’s Highway is a must-read for everyone, particularly those in Congress who currently oppose any type of immigration reform and Americans who think immigrants do not pay taxes and come here solely to steal their jobs. And, for those who believe all immigrants are rapists and murderers, The Devil’s Highway is an important read that will inform otherwise.
Jansen, Valeria Ramos, "The Politics of Stupidity at the U.S.-Mexico Border: The Devil’s Highway by Luís Alberto Urrea" (2021). GGU Law Review Blog. 85.