Jessica's Reviews > The Devil's Highway: A True Story

The Devil's Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea
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's review
Jul 12, 2010

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bookshelves: 2010, adult-non-fiction
Read in July, 2010

** spoiler alert ** Early on in this account, Urrea used police reports to list the possessions and identifying features of the John Does recovered from the desert. The unassuming effects ranged from a comb to a one-word tattoo "Maria" and though curious, didn't really carry the full weight of the lost lives until he contextualized the possessions with the stories of the individuals who undertook the uncharted journey to the U.S. seeking a better life for their wives, children, and mothers.
In a moment of reflection, tenacious and no-nonsense Rita Vargas, Mexican consul in Calexico, calculated the cost of just transporting the 14 bodies back to Veracruz ($68,000) and remarked, "What if somebody had simply invested that amount in their villages to begin with?" (p 199). I found this statement, tucked away near the end of the book and left unexplored to be very powerful and thought-provoking. The medical fees from hospital stays and treatments of undocumented entrants in the southwest alone reach nearly $200 million! It's sad that we're not working harder to address the problems faced by the campesinos and instead spend ridiculous amounts of money and energy trying to keep them out of the U.S. :(

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