Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Devil's Highway Completed

Political borders, like the US/Mexico border, are often times lines in the sand, or through mountains, or valleys. Rarely, it seems, are international borders marked outside of urban areas. Urban borders have been build up significantly in the recent past. For a website with "then and now" pictures click here.

Outside these settings though, the satellite view on Google Maps shows the the US/Mexico border as a faint line in the desert. Less than 10 yards from that line is a major Mexican highway, Route 2. All the bus has to do is pull over and people can get out and walk for less than 10 seconds and be in America.
The Devil's Highway described this landscape, but seeing it, even from above and on a computer screen, is such a different experience.

One similarity however, between the experience of reading Urrea and seeing this satellite image, is an insightful image into the futility of US border policy. Urrea though, is able to travel deeper into that portrayal. He even argues that the policy is inhumane, because it expects events like this to occur, and does little to prevent them. Our border policy, it seems, is not one of exclusion, but one of inclusion and deportation if living. The saddest irony of the book and of the situation is that unidentified bodies of immigrants are buried in US cemeteries.

Urrea's writing style is sarcastic at times to heighten the critique of US policy, but he can also be incredibly sincere and thoughtful in his writing. He writes that "the Yuma 14 changed nothing, and they changed everything" (211). Even though this is the experience of tens, hundereds of immigrants, and that this experience will likely remain unchanged for them, for us it exemplifies everything that is wrong with the border and by itself calls on us to make better and more effective policy.

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