Enrique's Journey

An Interactive Journey

The Act of Dreaming

by Timothy Knipper, Georgian Court University

by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

Uncredited, from inquisitr.com

The decision to leave one's homeland is not an easy one.  For the people who make the difficult and sometimes dangerous decision to migrate to the United States, it is the endless dream that draws them, even if they suffer a nightmare to get here. Enrique's Journey, by journalist Sonia Nazario, tells the true story of a Honduran teenager who decides to ride the tops of freight trains to reach the United States, in a desperate search for his mother, who left home many years before. This powerful account is based on a series on Pulitzer Prize-winning articles by the author, which were originally published by the Los Angeles Times.  The book puts a human face on what has become politically-charged issue.

Crossing the border between Texas and Mexico is not the most treacherous hurdle for people choosing this route, which Fulbright Scholar Rebecca Cammisa documents in her film, Which Way Home. The 1450-mile journey is filled with natural and man-made terrors. Encounters with The Beast (one of the many nicknames for the train), gang members, robbers and rogue policemen can often result in the loss of life, limb or small-town innocence. Many rape victims and amputees suffer shame and often resist returning to their villages, despondent about their future and having not reached their destination.  Still, many people try several times before succeeding or giving up altogether.

Scene from The Border Wars,  InfinityTV

Even a nightmarish journey cannot kill the endless dream that is America.  In fact, some immigrants have more faith in their ability to achieve the elusive American Dream than do other segments of the population. According to a Pew Hispanic Center Study, The Optimist Immigrant, "...Hispanics in general, and Hispanic immigrants in particular, are more inclined than blacks or whites to take an upbeat view about one of the most enduring tenets of the American dream -- the idea that each generation will do better in life than the one that preceded it."

Choices and Chances

by Anthony Bartkewicz, NY Daily News The obstacles faced in the journey across Mexico have inspired one Texas town to create a "theme park" that lets participants experience the route.  The choices made by Mexicans and Central Americans who make the actual journey is greatly impacted by what they face at home. Some family members are willing to travel in small groups, or even alone, and take their chances.  For governments, this movement can complicate disputes over borders and water rights, trade agreements and shifting political alliances.  Policing agencies work on both sides of the border to stem the flow of unlawful migration, with varied success.  It might surprise many Americans to know that during the mid-20th century, America established a guest worker programs for Mexican farmworkers to help American farmers and ranchers resolve a labor shortage.  A similar program exists today, but for nurses, scientists and technology workers

After establishing residences and families here, many migrants make the choice not only to stay, but to join our military, and even become citizens (as reflected in the July 4 portraits from our region below), even while sending remittances home and spending wages in this country. The Dream Act movement is based in an optimism that their hard work will be rewarded and their children's futures will be bright.

by Dorian de Wind, The Moderate Voice from The Richmond Times-Dispatch by Caroline Costello, from www.smatertravel.com

Many Routes, One Destination:
Related Reading and Viewing

The history of the world is the story of the movement of peoples, and America is no exception.  Whether arriving by boat, by train, on foot or by plane -- with papers or without - -migrants have impacted our culture and helped America to become the beacon that it is. This is evidenced by the words we write and speak, the music we hear, the very foods we eat and even the technology we hold in our hands. The following books and films highlight the history of migration to America throughout the decades and the contribution made by migrants to our culture. Ask at your neighborhood library, or visit our online catalog to see which are available in audio, video, large print or as e-books.


The Snake Head

The Woman Warrior book cover

Living 'Illegal'

The Devil's Highway

The Snakehead: An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream
by Patrick R. Keefe
The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts
by Maxine Hong Kingston
Living “Illegal”: The Human Face of Unauthorized Immigration
by Marie F. Marquardt, et. al.
The Devil’s Highway
by Luis Alberto Urrea

The Buddha in the Attic

Create Dangerously
Dying to Cross The Great Shame
The Buddha in the Attic, a novella
by Julie Otsuka
Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work
by Edwidge Danticat
Dying to Cross: The Worst Immigrant Tragedy in American History
by Jorge Ramos
The Great Shame: And the Triumph of the Irish in the English-Speaking World
by Thomas Keneally

The Long Way Home

97 Orchard

The Long Way Home: An American Journey from Ellis Island to the Great War
by David Laskin
97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement
by Jane Zeigelman
A Nation of Immigrants
by John F. Kennedy

A Better Life DVD cover Farmingville In America DVD cover
A Better Life
directed by Chris Weitz
directed by Carlos Sandoval
and Catherine Tambini
In America
directed by Jim Sheridan
Last Train Home DVD cover Under the Same Moon DVD cover El Norte DVD cover
Last Train Home
directed by Lixin Fan
Under the Same Moon
directed by Patricia Riggen
El Norte
directed by Gregory Nava

Reading Group Guides

From footage on March in support of Maryland's Dream Act, wjla.com by Wendi Winters, Capital Gazette