In The Devil's Highway, Luis Alberto Urrea gives plenty of evidence that the reason undocumented immigrants risk their lives in the desserts of Arizona, which is where the story is focused, is two-fold. First, they cross the devil's highway to get jobs in America. These are often jobs that are lowly and unsought after by American citizens. But the jobs pay enough to live on and many times allow for sending money back across the border to relatives. The second reason is to escape the tumultuous and unforgiving circumstances in Mexico that restrict opportunity. Urrea, a professor of creative writing at the University of Illinois in Chicago, told the story of the Yuma 14 to compel activity from the pro-immigration citizens to help close the devil's highway across the desert.
[eNotes doesn't yet have Study guides for Urrea's The Devil's Highway but below are reliable links to Urrea's Web site, his biography and an NPR interview.]