The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child

by Francisco Jiménez

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Chapter 12 Summary

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Last Updated on September 6, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 403

“Moving Still” opens with a reference to Papa’s bad back. Papa can no longer work, and Roberto’s is the only income the family has, except when Francisco and Trampita can help. Further, la migra, the immigration authority, is sweeping the area looking for undocumented immigrants like Francisco and most of his family. Francisco remembers a raid on the Tent City. Papa has a “green card,” but no one else does. The family is nervous, and Papa reminds Francisco that he must always say that he was born in California.

Papa is concerned that the family does not have enough money to get through the winter and that he will not be able to work. He decides to take the family to Santa Maria, where it may be safer on the Bonetti Ranch. Francisco is excited to go back, and Roberto drives during the trip. Francisco wonders if his junior high classmates will remember him. As they drive, he sees many places that have become important to him and hold memories.

The family settles into the barracks, which have electricity and running water (even though they cannot drink it). They work to make the place feel like home. Francisco and his brothers enroll in school, with Francisco now in eighth grade. He enjoys his classes and teachers and even earns first place in math sometimes.

With Papa’s back not allowing him to work, Roberto decides to try for a year-round job in town that may allow the family to stay put. The boys talk about finally being able to stop moving as they work together. Mr. Sims agrees to help Roberto find work, and Roberto is excited by the chance offered by the Buster Brown Shoe Store. The owner, however, only wants Roberto to mow his lawn.

Francisco’s teacher, Miss Ehlis, assigns the class to memorize part of the Declaration of Independence, and Francisco works hard to learn each line. He is attracted to the ideas of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” He writes the piece in his new notepad that he uses for English words and other information.

Roberto gets a job as a janitor at Main Street School, and Francisco helps him clean, working on the Declaration as he does. But Francisco never gets to recite what he has memorized. At school that day, an immigration officer arrives, looking for Francisco, who must go with him.

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Chapter 11 Summary