At times, Ojito seems to glide over the seriousness of this conflict. Too often it appears as a matter of clashing cultural norms — different languages, different ideas about what time to end a house party and how often to cut a lawn — rather than as actual competition over limited resources. In her epilogue, for example, she cites Adam Davidson’s reporting for The New York Times, which found that undocumented immigrants actually raise the income of most adult Americans. She leaves out his assessment that the same immigrants can deplete the coffers of some local and state governments since the needs of undocumented immigrants are often high and they “are not evenly distributed.”
It’s those kind of facts that make me wish Ojito had delved a bit more into the numbers of Patchogue’s municipal budgets. But even without such figures, Hunting Season provides a stunningly fair vision of what immigration from Latin America has meant for pockets of the suburban United States. Marcelo Lucero scrubbed shirts at a dry cleaner until his fingernails fell off. He worked incessantly to lift his family out of poverty. This remarkable book made me feel not only compassion for Lucero’s decision to enter the United States against the law by also sympathy for the neighbors who wished he’d never come.