Illegal Immigration. “The Tortilla Curtain” by Boyle

Illegal immigration has often been observed as a serious problem that affects a nation in many ways. Some people regard it as an issue that drains the vitality of a nation and the rehabilitation of illegal immigrants is often a matter of squabble. Different studies have identified a number of illegal immigrants in the US and their right for health care causes for several questions among the general public as well as on the government. There are references about the illegal immigrants in the novel “The Tortilla Curtain” written by T.C. Boyle. He is known for his humor and his biting satire. His novels explore the brutality and irregularity of nature and the levy human society unintentionally takes on the environment. The Tortilla Curtain depicts the life of two couples, out of which Cándido Rincón, a divorcee and América, a young woman are presented as two illegal immigrants to the United States from California. Another couple, Delaney and Kyra Mossbacher are also moved to Topanga, in order to be closer to nature. The two couples’ life takes a turn when they met with a road accident. A true representative of the American citizen who keeps such a doubtful mind is visible with Delaney, an important character in the U.S. author T.C. Boyle’s The Tortilla Curtain. Attempting a character study on Delaney will, to an extent, enable one to have a clear picture about the American approach towards the illegal immigrants.

Many factors, such as economic, political, social, cultural, geographical and demographic, affect the process of illegal immigration in the United States. Majority of Latin American countries have suffered from political instability and the feelings of national insecurity. “Political instability in countries of origin must also be taken in to account, but war violence alone do not explain immigration to the United States.” (Gutmann 93).

In his novel The Tortilla Curtain, Boyle’s represents the sufferings of the Mexican immigrants and the author reveals his view that illegal immigration is the result of political, social and cultural reasons.

The right for illegal immigrants to receive U.S. health care

The online article entitled Illegal Immigration gives appropriate definition about illegal immigrants. The article states; “An individual who is residing in a country illegally is known as an “illegal immigrant.”” (Illegal Immigration para 1).

One cannot justify the act of illegal immigration but on the side of a humanitarian view, they deserve effective treatment and other health care. In the United States, the details of health care costs for illegal immigrants are vague because the hospitals and health care communities do not check the legal status of their patients. At present, the government has offered a lot of health care programs for immigrants. If one goes through the words of Richard Wolf, one can easily understand the present state of health care for immigrants in America. The author remarks; “Illegal immigrants can get emergency care through Medicaid, the federal-state program for the poor and people with disabilities.” (Wolf para 9). Boyle’s characters are the victims of identity problem and immigration. After the accident Candido and Kyra failed to get immediate medical service.

The real problem is that the immigrants would not get casual health care services if they failed to pay the cost. Here, one can see the real sufferings of an illegal immigrant. T.C Boyle’s novel The Tortilla Curtain gives the sufferings of two couples from Mexico. In this novel the author describes an accident scene. The male characters Candido and Kyra Mossbacher failed to call the police or an ambulance because of the problem of identity. Here one can find that the author is conscious about the suffering s of illegal immigrants.

Nearly twelve million illegal immigrants are living in the United States. The journal article entitled ‘Illegal Immigration Popular Publications’ by Center for immigration Studies gives exact information about the illegal immigrants in the United States. “In our analysis of the March 2007 Current Population Survey, we estimate that there are approximately 11.3 million illegal aliens living in the United States.” (Illegal Immigration: Popular publications para 1).

Illegal immigration has received the attention politicians and thinkers. Three percentage of immigrants work in agricultural field, thirty three percent have jobs in service industries and some people work in construction and related professions. Even in industries, such as construction, restaurants etc there is high absorption of illegal workers. Because of the demands to rise the wages which made by the U.S employers forced the U.S economy to support immigration. In his work entitled U.S. Intensifies Audits of Employers, Mariam Jordan remarks; “Few industries have come so close to admitting they cannot survive without the labor of illegal immigrants as agriculture. At least half of the 1.8 million crop workers in the U.S. are undocumented.” (Jordan 1 para 6). Boyle’s novel lights up the problems of natives and the immigrants in his novel. Through the attitude of the author a reader has the pressure to believe that illegal immigrants in the United States have severe job problems.

Recent studies show that an immediate quitting of the illegal immigrants will have least effects on the pay checks of the Americans. Unlawful immigrants seem to contain very slight collision on unemployment rates. Illegal immigrants definitely do take jobs because of the pressure of legal workers. These illegal immigrants lead a luxurious life. They buy luxurious things such as motor vehicles and electronic products and they go to restaurants. The web article named Illegal Immigration remarks; “Regardless of where the illegal immigrants are from, what they have in common is that they are seeking a better life.” (Illegal Immigration para 1).

Boyle’s novel shows that a large amount of immigrants settled in California and its nearest parts. That is because many Americans from other parts of the country decide not to shift to areas with great numbers of immigrants. Illegal immigration has both unhelpful and helpful impacts on diverse parts of the financial system. More people are going to United States and they are working in that place. The other trends in the economy are far greater than the economic impact of illegal immigration. When examining the various reasons of immigration to the United States, one can find that better lives, political and religious freedom, economic security are the major among them. But, in some other cases it is because of the terrible horrors of torture and war. Delenay and Candido are the victims of social, political and cultural conflicts. Whatever the causes may be, the new comers to the United States can be divided into three types namely, legal immigrants, refugees, and undocumented immigrants. Though the accurate number of persons who immigrate to United States is unknown, it is sure that there are a lot. Most of the immigrants of this type are trying to escape poverty and squalor in their countries of origin. Adding to their problems, they suffer a lot in their travel. Besides, they are always under the threat that they may be caught by the authorities at any time. The book titled “Multicultural perspectives in working with families” written by Elaine Piller Congress, Manny J. González give evidences to these embarrassing revelations. It says: “many undocumented emigrants suffer greatly in their travel to the United States. Rape, acts of violence and physical hardship are not uncommon. Furthermore, undocumented immigrants are often in a state of constant worry that they will be discovered by the U.S authorities and deported. They are suspicious of any government or official institution and are wary of seeking legal or health services.” (Congress and González 146).

In order to bring the scale of illegal immigration down, certain acts have been formed and it restricted the provision of the undocumented immigrants. The web article titled, “Restrictions on Undocumented Immigrants’ Access to Health Services: The Public Health Implications of Welfare Reform” prepared by Jeffrey T. Kullgren reports: “intended to serve as a tool for reducing illegal immigration and protecting public resources, federal restrictions on undocumented immigrants’ access to publicly financed health services unduly burden health care providers and threaten the public’s health.” (Kullgren para 3). Through his novel Boyle comments that illegal immigration makes problems in health care service in America.

Illegal immigrants have great impact on the native workers. It becomes evident when the web article titled “The impact of immigrants on host country wages, employment and growth,” written by Rachel M. Friedberg and Jennifer Hunt support the idea. It reports: “Most attention has been paid to the potential adverse effect on labor market outcomes of native born workers: immigrants may compete with native born workers in the labor market, displays them in employment or bidding down wages.” (Friedberg and Hunt para 2). Rincón’s empty life style and Candido’s searching for job empresses the plight of illegal immigrants in the United States.

The journal article named, How illegal immigrants create jobs comments on the status of illegal workers in US. It remarks; “If anything, the native-born might have a slight premium merely due to some people expressing a preference for them as workers. Of course, that would lower the wages of the illegal and only make them that much more competitive.” (How Illegal Immigrants Create Jobs para 7).

Immigrants and the US economy

One of the major reasons for this illegal immigration is economic depression and poverty. Large number of immigrants from Mexico and Latin American countries is landless, blocked access to legal jobs, suffered with fixed income, and failed to submit legal documents for their jobs or business. Most of the immigrants have considered America as a place that helps them improve their living standard. The journal article entitled Illegal Immigration from Mexico comments that “Their pay may be so low that they cannot afford to cover even the most basic necessities.” (Illegal Immigration from Mexico para 2).

Better living condition and social security promotes comfortable life in the United States. In the novel Candido reveals his frustration because of sufficient job and health care. Candido’s sufferings to give medical care and nutritious food for his pregnant wife show the real life of the millions of illegal immigrants in America.

Illegal immigration is considered as a widely accepted topic which creates social, economical, and political impacts. Today, illegal immigration has become a major social issue in both developed and developing countries including the United States of America. Illegal immigration in the United States creates some problems to the Native Americans. One of the major issues is that majority of illegal immigrants in the United States come from Latin America and Mexico. These immigrants contend with the native citizens of the United States in various fields such as job vacancies, higher education and health care. It paves the way for unemployment among the native people in the United States. Immigrants show their willingness to do all hard jobs including industrial works at very low wages. The Government and managements are forced to appoint more immigrants in their work places. Studies show that immigration has some positive impacts in the United States and the Government shows its unwillingness to make laws against immigration. Serena Parker states that; “According to the Department of Labor, at least half of the nearly 2,000,000 crop workers in the United States are illegal aliens. The cheap labor they provide is crucial to the $30-billion U.S. farm industry.” (Parker Para 3).

The Labor economists have the opinion that the illegal immigrants provide the U.S economy a more flexible labor power that in return helps the industries to grow by attracting the customers with lower prices. Analyzing this report, one can see that illegal immigration provides positive impacts on American economy.

The online article entitled Illegal Immigration and the American Workforce provides helpful information about illegal immigration and the American workforce. It says; “Although it is impossible to pinpoint the exact number of illegal aliens currently employed in the United States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an estimated 12.5 million non-citizens (of whom 75 percent are estimated to be from Mexico and Latin America) are employed in this country.” (Illegal Immigration and the American Workforce para 5).

Not only the low level and hard jobs, illegal immigrants are ready to do some middle class jobs also. This makes the natives to consider the immigrants as outsiders. This social discrimination often makes problems to the illegal immigrants. The Mossbachers in the novel Tortilla Curtain have faced fearful alienation from the natives. Sometimes the natives consider the illegal immigrants as outsiders. Often, the immigrants lost their rights and freedom.

America has become one of the most powerful countries in the world. Donna R. Gabaccia remarks; “In their encounters with immigrants, Americans have repeatedly revealed a few deeply held values that distinguish them from other nations.” (Gabaccia 269). In the novel The Tortilla Curtain the characters of Candido and Delaney are the victims of illegal immigration. They suffered with severe financial and political problems. The character of Delany and Candido are the representatives of immigrants who live with American dream. The web article named The Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle comments that “The Mossbachers represent what the Rincons are trying to achieve, yet both are unsatisfied with their current state of being.” (The Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle para 9).

Illegal immigrants have greater influence on US economy and a serious issue related with illegal immigrants is that the government offers numerous financial helps and grants in the fields of education and health care. According to the government, all citizens deserve social, economical and educational benefits. Studies show that In California a large number of hospitals were closed due to heavy financial problems. The arrival of illegal immigrants has created some legal problems; they made their contribution to the US economy.


To conclude, one can see that there are many problems that affect the illegal immigrants of US and their healthcare is often a matter of dispute among Americans. The illegal immigration has paved the way for many other social and legal issues and T.C. Boyle’s novel makes a clear evaluation of the state of illegal immigrants in US. One of the important topics discussed in the novel is the identity crisis of the Mexican immigrants. Even though, the government and other organizations provide health care services, the immigrants in the United States. After reading the novel one can see that Illegal immigrants in California from Mexico and Latin American countries are outsiders in the eyes of the natives. Through the character of Delaney, Boyle draws out the threat of unemployment and denial of healthcare that really makes the life of Mexican immigrants worse. In Boyle’s opinion Illegal immigration has some positive and negative impacts on American economy. Boyle’s characters reveal that illegal immigrants have social, cultural and identity problems. Thus, it is clear that Boyle’s novel is a comprehensive treatise that covers almost all aspects with regard to illegal immigration of US, and a reader can realize the underlying problems. After the analysis it is easy to understand that the author T.C. Boyle shows his alert about the problems of illegal immigrants in the United States especially in California from Mexico and Somalia.


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Gabaccia, Donna R. Immigration and American Diversity: A Social and Cultural History. Wiley-Blackwell, 2002. Print.

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How Illegal Immigrants Create Jobs. Classically Liberal. 2009. Web.

Illegal Immigration and the American Workforce: The Great Debate. Hoover Institution, Stanford University: Ideas Defining a Free Society. 2008. Web.

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Illegal Immigration. Law Offices of Kate L. Raynor. 2007. Web.

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Illegal Immigration. US Immigration Support. 2009. Web.

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Kullgren, Jeffrey T. “Restrictions on Undocumented Immigrants’ Access to Health Services: The Public Health Implications of Welfare Reform.” American Journal of Public Health 93. 10 (2003): 1630-1633. Web.

Parker, Serena. Immigrants: US Economic Savior or Social and Economic Burden?. VOA 2005. Web.

The Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle. Essortment: Information and Advice You Want to Know. 2002. Web.

Wolf, Richard. Rising Health Care Costs Put Focus on Illegal Immigrants. USA Today. 2008. Web.

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