Sonia Nazario, the author of “Enrique’s Journey,” referred to the technique she used to write her book as “fly on the wall reporting. This type of technique is one in which you observe a direct situation without actually being fully immersed in it. The story of “Enrique’s Journey” and his struggle to unite with his mother in the United States is a typical story of an immigrant but I think the way that Nazario documents her trip is representative of a habit of many American people in society today. As a privileged society, people in the United States often passively observe cruel scenarios rather than acting out and trying to make a change to these cruel situations. A tragic flaw of United States citizens is that we all use “fly on the wall reporting.” We see instances where people are less fortunate than us or are struggling and while we feel badly for them, we ignore it and move on with our own personal lives. A book such as “Enrique’s Journey” should be a call to arms to all American citizens that they must no longer be passive but instead must take action to change the difficulties that immigrants endure while attempting to come to the United States.
One of the most important pieces of the book that Nazario focused on in her lecture Thursday night was the unprecedented kindness of the people in certain places along the immigration trails. These people should be an example to all Americans about how they should treat immigrants who are often fleeing terrible lives and leaving their friends and families behind. She emphasized that both those who had food to give as well as those who didn’t have anything to offer fled to the railroad tracks when a train was scheduled to pass through. Those who did not have any food or water to give surrounded the trains while praying in order to show support to the eclectic group of immigrants traveling the dangerous rails hoping for freedom, happiness and reunification with their families. It is more important to focus on the people who extended their resources to strangers than to focus on the officers trying to deport the immigrants.
While this story did touch my heart, as well as enlighten me about the struggles of immigration, I think its important to take another step after reading a book and hearing from an author who has witnessed the difficulties of immigration. It is crucial that we do not act like “flies on the wall” and observe the pain of others. Instead, we must confront the situation and find a solution or at the very least a way to work toward reforming the immigration experience in the United States. Whether Nazario’s intention was to tell a story or make people more aware of the process illegal immigrants take to get to the United States is unclear. But, regardless, this story should be used to facilitate teaching American citizens about immigration railroads and help to form new grass roots organizations to attack immigration policies and help improve the lives of immigrants everywhere.