Sonia Nazario, the writer, found Enrique in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, in May 2000. She and Don Bartletti, the photographer, spent two weeks with him there and rejoined him at the end of his journey in North Carolina. Then, based on Nazario's extensive interviews with him in Mexico and during three visits to North Carolina, she and Bartletti retraced each step Enrique had taken, beginning at his home in Honduras.
Between May and September 2000, Nazario and Bartletti spent three months working their way north through Mexico just as Enrique had, riding the tops of seven freight trains and interviewing and photographing people Enrique had encountered, along with dozens of other children and adults making the same journey. Nazario and Bartletti walked around immigration checkpoints and hitchhiked with truckers, exactly as Enrique had. To retrace Enrique's steps, they traversed 13 of Mexico's 31 states.
Nazario conducted interviews in the United States, Honduras, Mexico and Guatemala with immigrant rights advocates, shelter workers, academics, medical workers, government officials, police officers and priests and nuns who minister to immigrants. At four INS detention centers in California and Texas and in two shelters for child migrants in Tijuana and Mexicali, Mexico, she interviewed youngsters who had made their way north on top of freight trains. She also consulted academic studies and books about immigration.
The Los Angeles Times has a strong preference for naming the subjects of its articles in full. It has done so with two members of Enrique's family, his girlfriend and a friend. But The Times has decided to identify Enrique, his mother, father and two sisters by publishing only their first names and to withhold the maternal or paternal name, or both, of six relatives as well as some details of Enrique's employment. A database review by Times researcher Nona Yates showed that publishing their full names would make Enrique readily identifiable to authorities. In 1998, the Raleigh, N.C., News and Observer profiled an illegal immigrant whom it fully identified by name and workplace. Authorities arrested the subject of the profile, four co-workers and a customer for being undocumented immigrants. The Times' decision in this instance is intended to allow Enrique and his family to live their lives as they would have had they not provided information for this story.
Scenes from Enrique's life in Honduras with his mother and sister, including his mother's departure: written from interviews with Enrique; his mother, Lourdes; his aunts Mirian Liliana Aguilera and Rosa Amalia; his maternal grandmother, Agueda Amalia Valladares; and his mother's cousin Maria Edelmira Sanchez Mejia. Quotation in which Enrique asks his mother to look at things: from Lourdes and Maria Edelmira.
Lourdes' departing words to Enrique: from Lourdes and Enrique.
Enrique's reaction to his mother's departure: from his paternal grandmother, Maria Marcos. The boy's remarks asking about his mother come from Marcos.
Estimate that at least 48,000 children enter the United States from Central America and Mexico each year, illegally and without either parent: This total, for 2001, is reached by adding the following numbers, which are the latest available. The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service says it detained 2,401 Central American children. The INS has no figure for Mexican children, but Mexico's Ministry of Foreign Affairs says the INS detained 12,019 of them. Scholars, including Robert Bach, former INS executive associate commissioner for policy, planning and programs, estimate that about 33,600 children are not caught.
For 2000, the total was 59,000.
Reasons children travel to the United States and information that many come in search of their mothers: from Roy de la Cerda Jr., the lead counselor at International Educational Services Inc., an INS-contracted detention shelter for unaccompanied minors in Los Fresnos, Texas. His information is corroborated by Aldo Pumariega, principal at the Bellagio Road Newcomer School; Bradley Pilon, a psychologist who counsels immigrant students in the Los Angeles Unified School District; and Rafael Martinez, director of Casa
Children bringing photos of themselves in mothers' arms: from Ralph Morales, pastor of the End of the Road ministry in Harlingen, Texas.
Estimate that half of Central American children ride trains without smugglers: from Haydee Sanchez, executive director of Youth Empowerment Services, a nonprofit Los Angeles group that helps immigrants; Olga Cantarero, a coordinator for the nonprofit Casa de Proyecto Libertad in Harlingen, Texas, which provides legal help to INS child detainees; and De la Cerda.
Details about travel through Mexico: from immigrant children in Mexico and the United States and from children in INS detention facilities in Texas and California. Included are Nazario's observations as she traveled with children on Mexican freight trains. The
Encountering children as young as 7: from Pedro Mendoza Garcia, a railroad security guard at a depot near Nuevo Laredo. Remarks of 9-year-old boy searching for his mother who is in San Francisco: from Haydee Sanchez in Los Angeles. Police placed him in her care until she found his mother.
Typical age of children: from INS data and immigrant shelter workers in Mexico.
How children recall their mothers: from interviews with several of them, including Ermis Galeano, 16, and Mery Gabriela Posas Izaguirre, 15, questioned in Mexico on their way to find their mothers in the United States.
Enrique's life with his father: from interviews with Enrique; his paternal grandmother, Maria; his father, Luis; and his stepmother, Suyapa Alvarez. Enrique's question about his mother's coming for him: from Maria.
Lourdes' journey and her early years as an immigrant: from her and members of her family. Lourdes' remark about feeding another child: from Lourdes. Grandmother Maria's assurance that Lourdes would be home soon: from Maria, confirmed by Enrique.
Enrique's father's new family and how he left Enrique: from Enrique, his father and his grandmother Maria. Enrique's statement to his sister Belky about how his father did not love him anymore: from Belky and Enrique. Maria said Enrique said the same words to her.
Belky's reaction to
Enrique's life with his paternal grandmother: from her and Enrique and from Nazario's visits to the home of the grandmother and the home of Enrique's father, as well as her visits to the market where Enrique sold spices. The amount of money Lourdes sent Enrique each month came from Lourdes and was corroborated by Enrique, his grandmother Maria and his aunt Ana Lucia. Happy birthday wish: from Maria. Quotation from Maria urging him to earn money: from Maria and Enrique. What Enrique shouted as he sold juice and spices: from Maria, confirmed by Enrique. Words Enrique wrote on a Mother's Day card to his grandmother: from Maria, confirmed by Enrique.
Lourdes' infrequent calls and her life in Long Beach: from Lourdes and members of her family. Quotation from cousin Maria Edelmira when Lourdes phoned after one year: from the cousin and confirmed by Lourdes. Belky's reaction to having a new sister: from Belky, confirmed by Enrique and their aunt Rosa Amalia.
Enrique's phone conversations with his mother: from Enrique, Lourdes and her cousin Maria Edelmira. Enrique's questions about when his mother would come home and his statements about wanting to be with her: from Enrique, confirmed by Lourdes. Remarks from Lourdes' mother urging her to return to Honduras: from Lourdes and her mother, Agueda Amalia. Lourdes' concern that she might have to return without money to build a house for her family: from Lourdes, confirmed by her mother. Nazario, accompanied by Lourdes' sister Ana Lucia, visited the white house with purple trim.
Lourdes' efforts to become a legal resident and her pledge to return for Christmas: from Lourdes, Enrique and Belky. Promise by Lourdes that she would return for Christmas: from Enrique, confirmed by Lourdes. Enrique's comments to Belky about needing to be with his mother: from Enrique, confirmed by his sister. Questions Enrique asked about how his mother reached the United States and about Mexican trains: from Enrique.
Enrique's comments when he realized that Lourdes would not keep her promises to return: from Enrique, confirmed by his mother.
Lourdes' questions about risking her children's safety to have them at her side: from Lourdes. Her realization that she could not afford a smuggler: from Lourdes. The smugglers' fees are from immigrant women and Robert Foss, legal director of the Central American Resource Center in Los Angeles. Enrique's quotation that he wanted to be with Lourdes and her reply: from Enrique and Lourdes.
Enrique's problems at school and with his paternal grandmother: from conversations with Enrique, Belky, their grandmother Maria and aunt Mirian. Comments Enrique made standing on his teacher's desk: from Enrique and Belky, who was told of the incident at the time by Enrique. Statement by teacher about being thankful that Enrique was graduating: from Enrique's aunt Mirian, who learned about the remark from Enrique and his paternal grandmother, Maria. Remark by Maria urging Enrique to stay away from bad boys and his reply: from Maria, confirmed by Enrique. Maria's threat to send Enrique away and his response: from Maria. Her plea for him to bury her: from Maria.
Description of the Tegucigalpa dump and its scavengers: from Nazario's observations and interviews with children at the dump.
Lourdes' life in North Carolina and her assertion that it was friendlier than California: from Lourdes.
Enrique's life with uncle Marco, Marco's death and Enrique's departure from his uncle's home: from Enrique, his uncle Carlos Orlando Turcios Ramos and his grandmother Agueda Amalia. Quotation by uncle Marco asking Enrique to work with him forever: from Enrique; other family members confirmed that uncle Marco made such remarks. Amount Lourdes spent on her brothers' funerals: from Lourdes.
Quotation by uncle Marco's girlfriend telling Enrique to leave: from Enrique. Other family members said Enrique recounted these words to them shortly afterward. Enrique's question at his maternal grandmother's doorstep: from the grandmother, Enrique and his aunt Mirian.
Enrique's life with his maternal grandmother and life in the hut: from Enrique; the grandmother, Agueda Amalia; aunt Mirian; uncle Carlos; and aunt Rosa Amalia. Descriptions of the grandmother's home and the hut are from Nazario's observations. Statement by Agueda Amalia that the family needed food: from Agueda Amalia. Enrique's glue sniffing and his tears for uncle Marcos: from aunt Mirian, confirmed by Enrique.
Life in "El Infiernito": from Nazario's visit to the neighborhood accompanied by teacher Jenery Adialinda Castillo.
Enrique's drug habits: from interviews with Enrique; his sister Belky; cousins Tania Ninoska Turcios and Karla Roxana Turcios; girlfriend Maria Isabel Caria Duron; her aunt Gloria Cuello Duron; as well as Enrique's aunt Rosa Amalia, uncle Carlos, aunt Mirian and Enrique's friend and fellow drug user, Jose del Carmen Bustamante. Nazario accompanied Tegucigalpa priest Eduardo Martin on his evening rounds to feed glue-sniffing homeless children.
El Gato's description of train rides through Mexico: from Enrique. Quotations by girlfriend Maria Isabel when she thought Enrique smelled like paint fumes: from her, confirmed by Enrique. How Enrique tried to hide his drug habits: from Maria Isabel, Belky, aunt Mirian, aunt Rosa Amalia, uncle Carlos and aunt Ana Lucia, confirmed by Enrique. Ana Lucia said she called him "drogo."
Enrique's drug-induced hallucinations: recounting of the notion that he was being chased is from Maria Isabel and Enrique; that he saw gnomes is from Belky and Enrique; that he saw ants is from friend Jose and Enrique; that he saw Winnie the Pooh is from Jose and Enrique; that he couldn't feel the ground, his legs wouldn't respond, houses moved and the floor fell is from Belky and Enrique. That his hands trembled and he coughed black phlegm: from Belky, confirmed by Enrique. Both are symptoms of glue sniffing, according to Harvey Weiss, executive director of the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition, and Jorge Reanos, a caseworker at Agape Center, which treats glue-sniffing children in Honduras.
Enrique's attempt to reach his mother in 1999: from Enrique and Jose del Carmen Bustamante, his companion on the journey. Dialogue between Enrique and a guard at Guatemala-Mexico border: from Jose, confirmed by Enrique.
Exchange with drug dealer and the jewelry theft: from Enrique, Belky, their cousin Tania, aunt Rosa Amalia and uncle Carlos. At Enrique's interrogation, quotations by Rosa Amalia are from Rosa Amalia, uncle Carlos and other family members present. Enrique's comments to the police that he did not want to commit the crime are from Belky, who heard the exchange after Enrique motioned her over to the police car. The words were confirmed by Enrique. The officer's questions about whether the family wanted to have Enrique locked up come from uncle Carlos, Rosa Amalia, Belky and Tania.
Enrique's deteriorating behavior: from Enrique, corroborated by Maria Isabel, Belky and other family members. Aunt Ana Lucia's role as the breadwinner and her accusation that Enrique was an economic drain: from Ana Lucia and grandmother Agueda Amalia. Both said Enrique was hurting the family's reputation.
Arguing with aunt Ana Lucia: from Enrique, Belky, aunt Ana Lucia, grandmother Agueda Amalia, aunt Rosa Amalia, girlfriend Maria Isabel and Lourdes' cousin Maria Edelmira. The words spoken between Enrique and his aunt Ana Lucia are from the shared recollections of those present--Ana Lucia, Enrique and Agueda Amalia. In addition, Maria Isabel and Rosa Amalia heard large portions of the exchange.
Sentiment by Agueda Amalia that Enrique should leave: expressed to Nazario by the grandmother. She said she had expressed the same sentiment to Enrique before he left.
Enrique's hallucination about his mother's death: from girlfriend Maria Isabel. He described the hallucination to her as he was having it. Enrique's question about why his mother left him: from Maria Isabel, confirmed by Enrique.
Enrique's shame: from Maria Isabel and his friend Jose del Carmen Bustamante, corroborated by Enrique. Statement by Enrique to Jose expressing love for his mother: from Jose, confirmed by Enrique.
Sale of belongings: from Enrique, Belky and their grandmother Agueda Amalia.
Enrique's exchange with his father: from Enrique and his paternal grandmother, Maria, whom he told about the exchange moments afterward. The dialogue also was confirmed by Enrique's father, Luis.
Enrique's farewell to his paternal grandmother: from Enrique, his grandmother Maria and his father. The words of Enrique's exchange with her: from Maria and Enrique.
His farewell to his sister: from Enrique and Belky. The words of the exchange: from Belky, confirmed by Enrique.
Enrique's hope that Lourdes would accept him: from Jose, confirmed by Enrique.
Enrique's words that he would persevere for one year: from Enrique.
His departure: from Enrique, Belky, Maria Isabel and aunt Rosa Amalia.