Pulitzer Prize-winning author Sonia Nazario spoke in front of a packed student crowd at Bovard Auditorium last night as part of USC’s ongoing lecture series on social issues. Nazario spoke about her 2006 book, Enrique’s Journey and immigration — an issue that she said is of the utmost importance, especially here in Southern California.
Nazario’s nonfiction book tells the story of Enrique, a teenage boy in Honduras who embarks on a dangerous and epic journey to reunite with his mother, who is working in North Carolina.
Enrique must travel more than 1,800 miles alone (half of which he does by holding on to the top of a speeding train), first crossing into Chiapas, the southern border of Mexico, en route to the U.S.-Mexico border.
The treacherous route back to his mother is filled with hardships: rail bandits, immigration agents, corrupt cops and criminals all looking to take advantage of the masses of children (which Nazario said total more than 100,000 yearly) who attempt the treacherous trek from Central America and Mexico to the United States.
Nazario actually met Enrique in Northern Mexico, (after his eighth failed attempt at crossing over into the United States) during his initial journey. Enrique’s courage inspired her so much that Nazario decided that she would travel from Honduras to Mexico, just as Enrique did, in order to accurately reconstruct his journey and speak about it from a place of experience. It took three arduous months, but Nazario completed her mission.
Ultimately Nazario said she hopes that her book and current work helps to humanize the immigrant experience, and it truly was an eye-opener for those in attendance.