Enrique's Journey

Describe Enrique’s journey across the river.

Chapter 6

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It is 1:00am on May 21, 2000, and Enrique is waiting by the edge of the water. El Tiríndaro will soon take him and two Mexican migrants, a brother and sister, across the Rio Grande. On the other side of the river stands a fifty-foot pole equipped with U.S. Border Patrol cameras. Patrol vehicles are nearby, but Enrique cannot see them in the dark. He and his companions strip to their underwear, and El Tiríndaro loads the Mexicans into a black inner tube and pushes them across the water to a small island halfway across the river. He then returns for Enrique.

They all know the dangers presented by the river - two nights before, a young migrant was killed when he was sucked into a whirlpool. In fact, fifty-four people had died that year in the Rio Grande near Nuevo Laredo. Enrique cannot swim, and is afraid. He holds onto the plastic bag filled with dry clothes and shoes as El Tiríndaro guides him across the river in the inner tube. Shortly after they arrive on the island, an SUV appears on the far bank, flashing red and blue lights and casting a spotlight on the island. Enrique and the others plaster themselves to the ground, and wait a half hour for the SUV to leave.

Immigrant children who are caught by the Border Patrol are sent to a Houston facility in shackles. There, they wait days in unsanitary conditions, with little food. The guards rarely speak Spanish, and the children have no idea when they will be deported. Some grow depressed and suicidal, while others stop eating altogether.

After the agents leave, El Tiríndaro takes them to shore. For the first time in his life and clothed only in his underwear, Enrique stands on U.S. soil. El Tiríndaro hides the inner tube and leads the group into a freezing cold creek filled with sewage. After waiting there for a half hour, they dress in their dry clothes from the plastic bags. El Tiríndaro gives them bread and soda. Once they are ready, El Tiríndaro leads them over a steep embankment and through other obstacles until they finally reach a two lane street. There, a Chevrolet Blazer flashes its lights.