The time period was 1990 to 1999.
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I think this was a time of heightened awareness of immigration and illegal immigration from places like Mexico, Honduras... President Bush was in office from January 20, 1989 to January 20, 1993. There was much heated discussion about boarders and illegals during that time.
Sonia Nazario wrote Enrique’s Journey to shed new light on the broader issue of immigration in the United States. In order to bring a human face to her investigation, she chose to follow one boy's journey. This approach lets her make an implicit statement to any Latina mothers who are considering immigrating to the United States - in the end, the separation of parent and child might not be worth it. The resentment the children feel toward their mothers never really goes away. Similarly, the guilt the mothers feel for having left their children also persists. Even after mother and child are reunited in the U.S., new issues arise, often resulting in negative consequences. Nazario does not want to write a political book - she wants to put a new "face" on the issue by exploring its personal, individual side.