Why Immigrants Come to America: Braceros, Indocumentados, and the Migra

Robert Joe Stout

Former Chicoan (and CN&R staff writer) Bob Stout has lived in La Paz, Baja California, for many years, and in that time has written two books, this one and The Blood of the Serpent: Mexican Lives (2003). The earlier book is almost entirely anecdotal, a series of portraits of Mexicans from various classes and regions that, taken together, offers a rare look at a complex society that non-Hispanic norteamericanos can’t possibly understand. Immigrants likewise contains a great deal of storytelling—Stout has interviewed hundreds of Mexican immigrants, as well as farmers and factory owners who employ them—but also, to provide context, a fair amount of history, legal and political information, and analysis. What emerges is a portrait of a maleficent system in which employers take advantage of impoverished undocumented workers while the rest of American society makes it as difficult as possible for both parties to go about their business.