The Devil’s Highway

The Spanish term for Border Patrol.

La Migra Quotes in The Devil’s Highway

The The Devil’s Highway quotes below are all either spoken by La Migra or refer to La Migra. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Desolation and Desperation Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Little, Brown and Company edition of The Devil’s Highway published in 2004.
Chapter 1 Quotes

“Getting bodies,” in Border Patrol lingo, didn’t necessarily mean collecting corpses. Bodies were living people. “Bodies” was one of the many names for them. Illegal aliens, dying of thirst more often than not, are called “wets” by agents. “Five wets” might have slipped out. “Wets” are also called “tonks,” but the Border Patrol tries hard to keep that bon mot from civilians. It’s a nasty habit in the ranks. Only a fellow border cop could appreciate the humor of calling people a name based on the stark sound of a flashlight breaking over a human head.

Related Characters: Luís Alberto Urrea (speaker)
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:
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Somebody had to follow the tracks. They told the story. They went down into Mexico, back in time, and ahead into pauper’s graves. Before the Yuma 14, there were the smugglers. Before the smugglers, there was the Border Patrol. Before the Border Patrol, there was the border conflict, before them all was Desolation itself.

Related Characters: Luís Alberto Urrea (speaker)
Related Symbols: La Cabeza Prieta
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Afterword Quotes

Part of the idea was to foment discussion. Make us think a little about those people who are “like, illegal.” But the deeper idea was to bear witness—we saw an exodus straight from the biblical template, and it felt that no one was paying attention. As I started the work, I will confess, it was all about the good men who died. But it didn’t take long to see that the story was really about all humans—all of us in those ancient deserts are lost wanderers.

Related Characters: Luís Alberto Urrea (speaker)
Related Symbols: La Cabeza Prieta
Page Number: 222
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

Item: a Mexican Beta Group immigration cop asked me if the situation in the U.S.—the suffering of the undocumented—would be improved if we called them by other terms. What if they are called “refugees”? “Pilgrims”? He was a philosopher. “In God’s world,” he said, “no man is illegal.” Every night, he locked himself inside the police station so the cocaine cowboys from the desert couldn’t kill him.

Related Characters: Luís Alberto Urrea (speaker)
Page Number: 230
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

The border makes me happy. Hard to believe. But, after all, I’m from there. Is the border all hate and fear and bad craziness? No. Of course not. Just like the Border Patrol agents aren’t all racist monsters looking to crack beaner heads. Just like the smugglers aren’t all savage beasts looking to slaughter innocents for filthy lucre…well, not all of them. Just like the walkers aren’t slobbering rapists and murderers—in spite of the blazing sign we float over their heads: ILLEGAL.

Related Characters: Luís Alberto Urrea (speaker)
Page Number: 233
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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La Migra Term Timeline in The Devil’s Highway

The timeline below shows where the term La Migra appears in The Devil’s Highway. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: The Rules of the Game
Desolation and Desperation Theme Icon
...it is called the Vidrios Drag. They are now praying to be found by the Migra, or the Border Patrol, whom they had “walked into hell trying to escape.” They cannot... (full context)
Chapter 5: Jesús Walks Among Us
Desolation and Desperation Theme Icon
Humanity and “Illegality” Theme Icon
Bearing Witness Theme Icon
...“gangster.” Maradona omitted the fact that the trade in Nogales had been forced west by Migra crackdowns, and that Jesús would be working in a “mean” little town below the Yuma... (full context)
Chapter 8: Bad Step at Bluebird
Desolation and Desperation Theme Icon
...son, Reymundo Jr., with the ascent. Mendez knows that the “surest way to beat La Migra [is] to keep to the high country” and avoid the flat planes of the desert.... (full context)
Desolation and Desperation Theme Icon
Humanity and “Illegality” Theme Icon
Bearing Witness Theme Icon
...the men were caught off-guard by bright lights. Mendez told the men it was La Migra, and all of them scattered. However, this “mysterious” event raises a lot of questions. Urrea... (full context)
Desolation and Desperation Theme Icon
...the men would later recall feeling spooked but optimistic—they had, they thought, successfully outrun the Migra, and many of them took the rest stop to enjoy the snacks they had brought... (full context)
Chapter 13: The Trees and the Sun
Desolation and Desperation Theme Icon
Myth, Religion, and The Spirit World Theme Icon
Humanity and “Illegality” Theme Icon
After climbing a mountain, the abandoned walkers spot a lone Migra truck patrolling the desert. They scramble toward it, but there is no way to get... (full context)
Chapter 14: Helicopters
Desolation and Desperation Theme Icon
Humanity and “Illegality” Theme Icon
Bearing Witness Theme Icon
...possible. Within ten minutes of Mike F. finding the men and giving them water, the Migra are already “fully engaged” in a rescue mission. Mike F., with the lost walkers in... (full context)
Afterword: Ten Years On
Myth, Religion, and The Spirit World Theme Icon
Humanity and “Illegality” Theme Icon
Bearing Witness Theme Icon
...the rescuers open up to him. He writes that the “triumvirate of Desolation—walkers, smugglers, and Migra—all were worthy of witness.”  (full context)