The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border

Riverhead. Feb. 2018. 256p. ISBN 9780735217713. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780735217720. SOC SCI
Cantú (contributor, Guernica) uses a series of vignettes to recount his experiences as a U.S. Border Patrol agent. Stories of catching migrants and retrieving dead bodies are interspersed with interludes that provide historical context to the border conflict. Throughout his time as an agent, Cantú is plagued by unsettling dreams and struggles to justify his work to his mother, who is proud of her Mexican heritage and skeptical of the Border Patrol. After Cantú leaves the Border Patrol he befriends José, an undocumented immigrant who has been living and working in the United States for more than 30 years. José visits his dying mother in Mexico and finds that he cannot return to his family and life in the United States. Cantú assists José's family with the legal proceedings, while musing on the juxtaposition between border agents and those affected by the policies that the they enforce. José also tells his side of the story, emphasizing his reasons for wanting to remain in America.
VERDICT A personal, unguarded look at border life from the perspective of a migrant and agent, recommended for those wishing to gain a deeper understanding of current events.
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