While Enrique’s Journey features stories of worthy people who express care and compassion for the human needs of migrants, the book also does not shy away from describing the dehumanizing circumstances that Enrique and others must confront. Nazario’s interest in finding a single story to illuminate the debate surrounding immigration policy in recent decades shows her commitment to humanizing immigration studies. In the prologue, she discusses her reconstruction of Enrique’s journey in order to give a full picture of the trials that he had to face. One way that Nazario portrays the humanity of the characters is by showing them in all their complications. She does not absolutely praise anyone nor does she judge the people she meets for their mistakes. Enrique at times deserves praise for his persistence and at others, criticism for his negligence. Illustrating a full picture of him, Nazario displays his humanity.
As Nazario strives to humanize these characters through her writing, she also points out the constant dehumanizing situations that they encounter. On the route from Honduras to the United States border, migrants confront countless threats, from physical danger to psychological harm. Many of them are caused by other people who have no respect for their humanity and no reservations about degrading others. Women migrants are especially dehumanized, unable to escape the grasp of sexual assailants. The police are also described as treating migrants without humanity, hunting them down like animals. Nazario portrays INS officers as equally bloodthirsty and cruel, following migrants’ trail until they capture them. Enrique’s Journey can be read as an attempt to restore the humanity of illegal immigrants – who have otherwise been stripped of it – in order to show the complications of these immigrants’ stories and open up the conversation about how to ameliorate the situation on all sides.
Humanization and Dehumanization ThemeTracker
Humanization and Dehumanization Quotes in Enrique’s Journey
"I was stuck by the choice mothers face when they leave their children. How do they make such an impossible decision? Among Latinos, where family is all-important, where for women motherhood is valued far above all else, why are droves of mothers leaving their children? What would I do if I were in their shoes?"
"Although I often felt exhausted and miserable, I knew I was experiencing only an iota of what migrant children go through...The journey gave me a glimmer of how hard this is for them."
"Nearly one in six migrant girls detained by authorities in Texas says she has been sexually assaulted during her journey, according to a 1997 University of Houston study."
"He was five years old when his mother left him. Now he is almost another person. In the window glass, he sees a battered young man, scrawny and disfigured. It angers him, and it steels his determination to push northward."
"It's wrong for our government to send people back to Central America. If we don't want to be stopped from going into the United States, how can we stop Central Americans in our country?"
"'We are human. We should treat people in a humane way. It's okay to send people back. But they shouldn't shoot them, beat them this way.'"
"'It's like a miracle,' [Lourdes] says. It is as if all the hurt he felt inside had to come out and now he is ready to move on."