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Background: Illegal Immigration

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Background: Illegal Immigration

Background: Illegal Immigration

Illegal immigration refers to immigration across national borders in a way that violates the immigration laws of the destination country. Under this definition, an illegal immigrant is a foreigner who either has illegally crossed an international political border, be it by land, water, or air, or a foreigner who has entered a country legally but then overstays his/her visa. In politics, the term may imply a larger set of social issues and time constraints with disputed consequences in areas such as economy, social welfare, education, health care, slavery, prostitution, crime, legal protections, voting rights, public services, and human rights.(Illegal Immigration)

Illegal immigration to the United States refers to the act of foreign nationals voluntarily resettling in the United States in violation of U.S. immigration and nationality law. Those who have entered the United States in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act are subject to deportation, often after being found to be removable in a civil removal proceeding before an Immigration Judge. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a bureau of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is the primary federal agency tasked with enforcing the immigration laws of the United States of America. In the 1930’s federal officials began deporting tens of thousands, possibly upwards of 400,000 Mexican-Americans and people of Mexican descent. America faced a similar wave of illegal immigration from Mexico in the early 1950s but it was expelled by President Eisenhower with no noticeable damage to the United States. Over 5.8 million illegal immigrants entered the United States in the 1990’s, and unremarkably Mexico rose to the head of the list of sending countries.(Illegal Immigration to the United States) In the progressing decades the government of the United States, pre and post 9/11, has increased its’ border security thereby further constricting the flow of illegal immigrants into the country. Especially with the upcoming 2008 presidential elections, the debate on illegal immigration has seeped into newspapers, print articles, magazines, the internet, and books. Much like the idea of sex, the idea of illegal immigration sells, and it has made its way into a piece by Sonia Nazario.


In an astonishing true story, award-winning journalist Sonia Nazario recounts the unforgettable odyssey of a Honduran boy who braves unimaginable hardship and peril to reach his mother in the United States. When Enrique was five years old, his mother, Lourdes, too poor to feed her children, leaves Honduras to work in the United States. The move allows her to send money back home to Enrique so he can eat better and go to school past the third grade. Lourdes promises Enrique she will return quickly. But, she struggles in America. Years pass. He begs for his mother to come back. Without her, he becomes lonely and troubled. When she calls, Lourdes tells him to be patient. Enrique despairs of ever seeing her again. Eleven years after his mother is forced to leave her starving family to find work, Enrique travels through hostile worlds full of thugs, bandits, and corrupt cops, often clinging to the sides and tops of freight trains, and with little more in his pocket than a slip of paper bearing his mother’s North Carolina telephone number. Each step of the way through Mexico, he and other migrants, many of them children, are hunted like animals. Gangsters control the tops of the trains. Bandits rob and kill migrants up and down the tracks. Corrupt cops all along the route are out to fleece and deport them. To evade Mexican police and immigration authorities, they must jump onto and off the moving boxcars they call El Tren de la Muerte, The Train of Death. Enrique pushes forward using his wit, courage, and hope - and the kindness of strangers. It is an epic journey, one thousands of immigrant children make each year to find their mothers in the United States.(Book Browse) Based on the Los Angeles Times newspaper series that won two Pulitzer Prizes, one for feature writing and another for feature photography, Enrique’s Journey puts a human face to the ongoing debate about immigration reform in the United States. It is also a timeless story of families torn apart, the yearning to be together again, and a boy who will risk his life to find the mother he loves. (About the Author)


Sonia Nazario, a projects reporter for the Los Angeles Times, has spent more than two decades reporting and writing about social issues, earning her dozens of national awards. The newspaper series upon which this book is based won more than a dozen awards, among them the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing, the George Polk Award for International

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