The Line Becomes a River: dispatches from the border by Francisco Cantu

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 12:19pm -- JGranatino

Francisco Cantu’s mother, a National Parks ranger, introduced him to the beauty and nature of the Southwest. The daughter of a Mexican immigrant, she talked about the family’s struggle to find their place as citizens of the United States. Francisco went off to college and majored in International Relations but instead of entering the State Department, he found work with the Border Patrol, covering the borderline from Texas to San Diego. His knowledge of local geography and fluency in Spanish helped him rise up in ranks as a field agent. In this book, The Line Becomes a River: dispatches from the border, Cantu gives another perspective to illegal aliens, as well as drug and human trafficking. Many he encountered were victims themselves, trying to find a safe life for their families. Others were being murdered mercilessly by the drug cartels of Mexico. After four years in the field, Francisco found himself having nightmares about his encounters and gladly accepted a job in intel, distancing himself from the horrors he had experienced. The nightmares continued. He eventually left the Border Patrol altogether and accepted a scholarship to become a writer. During this time he worked as a barista and befriended Jose, a hard worker and family man who went to Mexico to see his dying mother. Unfortunately, he was an illegal and was caught by the Border Patrol and sent to jail. Francisco’s efforts to help his friend reveals a flawed system which appears to criminalize and punish those who keep crossing the border to seek a better life, not the drug runners and murderers portrayed in the news.  

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