Luis Alberto Urrea has done thorough research over the topic of illegal immigration and the problems people face while crossing the border before writing this book. Most of them die in the mid of their journey as they have to cross on foot which is very dangerous and involves a lot of risk. Urrea describes the situation and facts so lively that the reader gets completely involved and almost starts feeling the pain by which these men might have gone through.
Urrea wants to point out that these illegal immigrants as human eings and wants them to be treated likely because the process of immigration takes us back into the history when men were needed in US to do some odd jobs that the citizens were not willing to do. Also these people could be paid less and thus helped indirectly in the economy of the country. But seeing some of the Mexicans well settled in US lot of them wanted to come and this gave rise to people like Don Moi to create mafia too.
The Arizona desert is considered as the devil’s highway because it is deadly. Getting lost nd water are continuous problems that men face there. The description of different kinds of death makes the reader breathless and this looks quite close to reality as they tell their personal stories and the reasons behind why each one is risking his life. Urrea uses terms like ‘cutting the drag’ and explains the reader how these men carry themselves forward in that unimaginably strong sun and drag their body in extreme hot conditions.
He also uses terms like ‘a pig at a luau’, which is used to describe the type of death these men were getting in that deadly desert due to heat. The ‘signcutters’ like Don Moi in the story takes away his cut of interest and leave the men in the way lost, as there are no signposts in the way to guide them. Urrea spends a lot of time on the point of view of the Border Petrol because he wants to show the real picture to the readers. He has done complete research work and has interviewed the various politicians on each side.
Some of them are in favor of immigration while many want to build a high wall from one end to other end of Border. He wants to tell the reader that the common and poor people suffer due to this kind of politics. The two sides of the story tell the reality of both immigrants and the problems they face and activities involved at the border like patrolling and maintaining them. Urrea has very beautifully mixed the two stories and makes the reader feel the real picture behind what people actually think of.
The Devil’s Highway’ is considered as literary nonfiction because it is a story based on acts and author has done a great job of blending reality with story. The facts are so well described in the pattern of story telling that reader actually feels pain and almost relive the story along with words used by writer. Urrea tells the story in a very fascinating way and even gives brief description of each individual, his life and reason why he wants to immigrate. This makes the story even more interesting and live. The book is ‘literary’ because reader is almost linked to facts through the story.