A ride along the Devil’s Highway—in a nicely air-conditioned sedan.
There was a time, it seems, when if Mexico were to pay for the wall of Donald Trump’s dreams, the government might have approached the Arce family for a loan. Though not in the Carlos Slim category, the author’s mother, for instance, “was responsible for putting Taxco silver on the map all over the United States.” Small wonder, perhaps, that Arce grew up with an entrepreneurial spirit. That spirit alone was not enough to secure her a berth on the lumbering ship that is America; the dramatic heart of the book is a series of episodes when, having landed a very high-powered, very remunerative gig on Wall Street, Arce suffers panic attacks while waiting for the day when her fellow suits, to say nothing of la Migra, discover that she doesn’t have a green card. “I tried to blend in as much as I could,” she writes, “and in the process I lost so much of myself, of my culture, of my Mexican-ness. In that regard, I am a recovering American elitist.” Arce writes from an unusual position; we have plenty of chronicles of crossings by campesinos but none by a country clubber. The author’s travails and turmoils eventually resulted in her leaving Wall Street, two years after getting her papers, to work for immigrant rights (“God—use me,” she implores in an overwrought moment, a tone that, sadly, isn’t an exception). They also resulted in this book, which, though doubtless well-intended, doesn’t pack a lot of punch: “The plight of undocumented immigrants in this country is currently a hot topic again,” she rightly notes, but her engagement is too narrowly circumscribed to speak much to the experiences of the less privileged.
Undistinguished as memoir or reportage but still of some interest for the unusual circumstances surrounding it.