So many illegal immigrants die in the desert Southwest of the U.S. that only notorious catastrophes make headlines. Urea reconstructs one such incident in the Sonorant Desert, the ordeal of sun and thirst of two dozen men in May 2001, half of whom suffered excruciating deaths. They came from Vera Cruz; their so-called guide came from Guadalajara. Jesus Lopez Ramos was no master of orienteering, however, just an expendable bottom-feeder in the border's human-smuggling racket. Tracing their lives and the routes to the border, Urea adopts a slangy, surreal style in which the desert landscape shimmers and distorts, while in desiccated border settlements criminals, officials, and vigilantes patrol for human cargo such as the men from Vera Cruz. The imaginative license Urea takes, paralleling the laconic facts of the case that he incorporates into his narrative, produces a powerful, almost diabolical impression of the disaster and the exploitative conditions at the border. Urea shows immigration policy on the human level.