The Devil’s Highway


Luis Alberto Urrea

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Walkers, or illegal immigrants crossing the desert by foot, are often throughout the text referred to as “pollos,” or “cooked chicken” in Spanish. (read full term analysis)


Polleros are smugglers who lead illegal immigrants across the border and into the desert. They dress in “bad clothes,” like their pollos, in order to blend in (in case of capture). Urrea is careful… (read full term analysis)


A smoothed-over stretch of sand. The U.S. Border Patrol, or Migra, tie groups of tires together, hook the tires to the backs of trucks, and drive through the desert in order to create smooth… (read full term analysis)


Signcutting, also referred to as cutting for sign, is a process by which U.S. Border Patrol agents hunt the desert for walkers. When sign—evidence of movement—shows up on one drag, Border Patrol signcutters… (read full term analysis)

La Migra

The Spanish term for Border Patrol. (read full term analysis)
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Also known as “heat death,” hyperthermia is the six-stage process of the human body experiencing distress, shutting down, and eventually dying from prolonged exposure to high temperatures. (read full term analysis)