[Please note: The word “Featured” on the left side above was NOT inserted by this blogger, but apparently was inserted by WordPress, and it cannot be removed. NO post in this blog is sponsored.]
The Book of the Week is “The Line Becomes A River, Dispatches From the Border” by Francisco Cantu, published in 2018. A border control agent wrote this account after personally experiencing the conditions in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. For anyone not sociopathic, the moral dilemmas that law enforcement face are traumatic.
The border between the United States and Mexico runs six hundred seventy-five miles from the Rio Grande to the Pacific coast. In the single-digit 2000’s, the U.S. government launched a campaign to try to increase the number of arrests and deportations or punishments it imposed on people crossing the border illegally. There are checkpoints where people can begin a process of legal immigration. Illegal border-crossing involves criminal law, but the processes of immigration and obtaining citizenship are civil law.
When politicians decided to get “tough on immigration” there was a surge in drug-smugglers and people-smugglers. Rival gangs are fighting. The result is more illegality than ever. The smugglers kidnap their customers who have relatives in the United States, corral them in temporary structures in southwestern cities and towns, and demand ransom money from the relatives.
After spending some time combing the desert for illegals, the author was transferred to a couple of different air-conditioned offices. He generated intelligence reports on drug traffickers, and watched video feeds from surveillance towers. If he saw, for instance, people cutting a hole in a pedestrian fence to go through, he notified officers via radio in the field to chase after them and arrest them. The officers might request help from tribal police, if the incident involved people from or on an Indian reservation.
Border patrol offices keep a database on all sorts of statistics on the nature of the border-crossers. The author surfed the Internet for “news” stories on kidnappings and was continually depressed by the steady stream of deaths of illegals from various countries in Central and South America. The language in the stories was slanted either to incite hatred against immigrants, or arouse sympathy for them.
The author befriended a Mexican-born man at a coffeehouse in the United States near the border. In a legal case that came to pass in connection therewith, the man’s boss claimed when she hired him, he filled in the paperwork properly, and he had a Social Security Number. But she gave him 1099 status (meaning, independent contractor– not a regular employee). She claimed she had no clue about his immigration status.
Read the book to learn the full story on the above, plus much more about the author’s experiences.