The Devil's Highway

by Luis Alberto Urrea

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How does The Devil's Highway relate to Latino history?

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Throughout his account of this tragedy, the author constantly asks the bigger question of why so many Latinos want to try to enter the USA and what is behind this massive influx of people. This novel therefore relates to Latino history through talking about the way that Mexicans used the Devil's Highway to enter into northern territories for hundreds of years, and how it was used as the main access point into the USA. Note what Urrea tells the reader:

A westerner names Francisco Salazar seems to have been the first tokeep an eyewitness record of this phase of the killing fields. By 1850, he wrote, the Devil's Highway was "...a vast graveyard of unknown dead... the scattered bones of human beings slowly turning into dust... the dead were left where they were..."

Urrea therefore makes the point that this immigration into the USA is not a new phenomenon, and the fact of "nortemania," as he calls it, or mania for heading North, is something that is very much a part of Latino history thanks to the inequality between North and South and the way in which Latinos are able to earn far more in the USA through doing jobs that nobody else wants to do than they can in their native country. As long as this bigger and wider inequality exists, immigration will continue. This historical inequality is what continues to drive so many latinos taking such a risk with their lives.

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