How was the group in the Devil's Highway recruited? 

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To introduce this subject, you have to understand that this book is about the area of the Arizona desert that is virtually deadly to anyone who enters it from an immigration standpoint. Mexican illegal immigrants are forced to enter the United States in this way (and through this reason) because of increase in border control in other areas. This is done on purpose so as to cause the death of many immigrants. This being said, The Devil’s Highway does tell a story about a particular “group” that try to survive. In short, the group is recruited through gang member tactics. What isn’t clear is whether you are speaking about the group of guides or the group of immigrants. I will briefly explore both so as to properly answer your question.

First, the guides are recruited in the same way that gangs recruit their members. The first element involved is family name, in this case “the Cercas.” They are just one of the “gang families” that have created what can be deemed (almost) a business. It is truly a sophisticated operation moving illegal immigrants across the border for money. As a result of their greed, these gang families have become separated from their fellow citizens and their plights. Yes, they are “guides,” but they betray those who they are guiding. Why? Even more than family name, the main recruitment quality is the ability of the guides to be shrewd in making money for the organization.

A second “group” we can speak about is the group of Mexican citizens who attempt to cross the border. This story is, in its nature, about a group of twenty-six strong Mexican men who attempt to cross the border and then endure “the devil’s highway” in Arizona. Less than half of the men survive. They are all recruited in the same way: by appealing to their desire for a better life for themselves and their families. The Fernandez family just wants their two children to go to school. Mr. Fernandez is recruited. The Garcia family also wants their child to go to school. Mr. Garcia is recruited. The Gonzalez family is large and extended. Extra money is needed to take care of all of its members. Mr. Gonzalez is recruited. The Magala family needs cement walls for their homes. Mr. Magala is recruited. The stories like this are all similar and go on and on throughout the twenty-six men.

In conclusion, the group of “guides” is recruited through gang member tactics and the group of immigrants are recruited by appealing to their want and desperate need for a better life. The sad thing is, all of the people are left without their guide (Mendez) by the end of the story. The remaining men (who have not died already) utter curses against Mendez, God, Mexico, and the United States. The immigrants have been betrayed by everyone.

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The Devil's Highway

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