The Devil’s Highway: A True Story

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Trolling for Latino votes, President Bush recently proposed granting
undocumented immigrants three-year work permits. The proposal has been a bust: Not only are Republicans
indignant, but immigrants fear being deported when the papers expire — many say that they’d
rather stay in the shadows.

Or in the killer sun. For years, Mexicans and other immigrants have been
sneaking over the border to reach minimum-wage jobs in the U.S. interior. For hundreds each year,
the crossing proves fatal. Many drown. Others cram into airless vehicles and suffocate. Some freeze
in winter. Then there is the heat.

“The Devil’s Highway” is a vast stretch of southern Arizona where ground
temperatures climb to the 130s. In May 2001, smugglers led some two dozen men and teenage boys through
this hell. They carried little water and got hopelessly lost. In the end, 14 people shriveled up,
turned black, went crazy, and died.

For essayist, poet, and border native Luis Urrea, the incident was a
doomed, 21st-century Odyssey. His harsh but lyrical prose celebrates man’s thirst not just to
make a living but to live a macho adventure — even when some of the “heroes” are Border Patrol
agents who chase immigrants to death’s door, then nurse the survivors with air conditioning and
water bottles. Urrea beautifully captures this cruel but seductive double play, which underscores
our country’s thirst for cheap labor, and the deadly ways in which that desire is slaked.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

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