Book Review: Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail, by Ruben Martinez

 

Reviewed by Bruce Rhodes

 

January 7, 2004

 

Revealing, personal look at the impact ofMexican immigration

 

I've read a handful of books about the influence of Mexican immigration on America (including Forging the Tortilla Curtain), and "Crossing Over" is hands-down the one I recommend most. The author literally rubs shoulders with successful and would-be Mexican migrants, from the sewers under Nogales, Arizona|Mexico through which Mexicans try to flee their homeland and in which many rob one another, to the dangerous meat-packing plants in Wisconsin, where hundreds of legals and illegals eke out a 'better life'. Martinez documents the views (from bitterness to resignation) of American employers and residents as they respond to the wave of immigration from Latin America.

 

The migrants' stories are both inspiring and depressing. Thanks to this book, I now have a better understanding of the plight of Mexican immigrants, and a respect for their patience and perseverance as they put up with poor living and working conditions, and sometimes outright abuse, north of the border. Each Latin American working in the USA or Canada likely could tell an amazing (possibly even courageous) story of his or her flight from 'home'; Martinez brilliantly captures the queasy ambivalence most migrants feel about splitting their lives, their assets and their mindsets between the lands on either side of the Rio Grande.