‘‘They should call it ‘The Jungle,’ in place of the United States—The
Jungle, right?’’ proclaimed Juanita, a migrant in her midtwenties from
the small city of Cuernavaca. ‘‘Here you meet every kind of people—I’d
call it, ‘The Jungle of All the Animals.’ ’’
I met Juanita during a group interview conducted in the home of a
twenty-one-year-old machine operator named Gloria, whom I had
taught in an English class at the DuraPress factory. Gloria was the mother
of a seven-year-old daughter and had migrated to Chicago seven years
earlier with her husband and newborn infant. However, Gloria’s older
sister Juanita had been in the United States the longest, more than eight
years, and was the most outspoken among the gathering of several sib-
lings, among whom was their seventeen-year-old brother who had only
arrived from Mexico fifteen days prior and was eagerly looking for work.
It seemed as if Gloria and Juanita’s parents—who themselves had mi-
grated from a rural village in Guerrero to the city where they had had to
send their children to sell bread and peanuts on the streets—must have
already witnessed the departure of every one of their children in the mass
migratory movement northward of Mexico’s youth, seeking to exchange
the vitality of their bodies and minds for the U.S.-dollar wages paid by
jobs in factories and restaurant kitchens.
Earlier in the interview, when I asked what they had heard in Mexico
about life in the United States, before migrating, Juanita had replied quite
frankly: ‘‘What we had heard were just stories. But really, it was that those
who were returning were bringing back lots of stu√—they were bringing
back clothes, money, and they had . . . things. And one has the dream of
having them too, and the idea that you have to take advantage of the
opportunities that you’re given by coming here. But there’s something
else you discover—the United States has nothing to o√er you, only dis-
crimination.’’ While her siblings laughed, somewhat nervously, at the
audacity of her scathing indictment, Juanita simply replied, ‘‘It’s the
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