Nazario ends the book by presenting some more details and data about immigration to the United States from Central America, and to describe her own thoughts about immigration and the immigration debate. There are approximately 1.7 million illegal children living in the U.S., and most are from Mexico and Central America. Many are like Enrique and have been separated from a parent. In schools, one in four children is an immigrant or child of one. The journey for children like Enrique is now becoming more and more difficult. The gangsters in Mexican states have only grown more numerous, powerful, and lawless, while the police agencies targeting migrants have grown (and not become any less corrupt). In Nuevo Laredo, the drug cartels wage war for control of the border. El Tiríndaro, among fifty-seven others, was killed there in 2002.
As the numbers of immigrants in the U.S. increase, the dangers of making the journey across the border do too. For Enrique, it already took great determination and much luck. Now the situation is even worse.
Even though it is becoming increasingly dangerous, more and more people are trying to make the journey to the United States. From 2001 to 2004, the number of Central Americans deported by Mexico doubled. In Latin America, the divorce rates are rising, which means more and more single mothers like Lourdes will be compelled by poverty to leave their children. The growing number of women and children entering the country demands us to consider the consequences on all sides.
Nazario investigates the reasons behind these increased numbers, and also wants to look forward at the potential results of the changing landscape of the American population. Her balanced view is helpful when trying to understand such a complex and multi-faceted problem.
For migrants, the financial and material benefits drive their decision to come to the United States. But the psychological trauma of family separation that often occurs should not be underestimated—it can create life-long problems for children and parents. At the Newcomer School in Los Angeles, Nazario learns about the difficulties that immigrant students face, such as feelings of resentment, abandonment, and rejection.
Nazario's journalism is effective because she does not take sides. She tries to see the situation from all perspectives and wishes to show the benefits and downsides of each choice. This is a deeply humanizing way of looking at the problem of immigration.
The money sent from immigrants back to their native countries in Latin America bring s significant boost to their economies. Those who return to their homelands after spending time in the United States also bring back technological and other skills. They even bring back ideological differences, and sometimes push for more democratic systems. But family disintegration means more juvenile delinquency, crime, and anger.
Nazario zooms out and looks at the consequences of immigration and familial separation on the countries from which migrants come. Again, her description looks at each side of the argument.
From the perspective of American citizens, immigration is a much-debated topic—some believe that immigrants ought to have the opportunities of Americans. Others believe that they take jobs away from U.S. citizens and rely too heavily on government assistance. Still others believe that immigrants help to make the nation more creative and open-minded. The impact of immigration on public services, such as schools, hospitals, and jails has been considerable.
Nazario investigates the topic of immigration without shying away from all the differences of opinion. She takes into consideration many factors, and resists from offering her own view until her conclusion.
While the United States purports to be locking down on immigration policies and tightening the Border Patrol, many still argue that immigration law enforcement is weak. In the U.S., large labor-intensive companies want cheap immigrant labor, and the government is therefore incentivized to allow such “resources” to be available. Today, more illegal immigrants use smugglers to get past the security measures (and incredible dangers) of the journey into the United States. In conclusion, Nazario cites experts who believe that the immigration problem can only be solved by helping bolster the economies of the countries from which immigrants come. Since the reasons for immigrating are economic, she says, the solution to keep immigrants at home must be economic.
Nazario ends by focusing on the economics behind immigration. The story that has produced this book, Enrique's Journey, is one that humanizes the individuals involved. But in doing so it also shows how their choices were ultimately shaped by economic factors and incentives for people to come to the US. And as any believer in market economies will tell you, it is very difficult if not impossible to build policies that try to work against natural incentives. Therefore, Nazario’s solution to the “problem” of illegal immigration is not a policy solution that directly focuses on immigration, but rather a statement that the only solution can be economic. None of the migrants in the story wanted to come to the US. They felt they had to for economic reasons. So, Nazario concludes, only by bolstering the economies of Central American nations can the forces driving such immigration be shifted.