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The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border (2018)

por Francisco Cantú

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6292336,525 (3.93)38
""A beautiful, fiercely honest, and nevertheless deeply empathetic look at those who police the border and the migrants who risk - and lose - their lives crossing it. In a time of often ill-informed or downright deceitful political rhetoric, this book is an invaluable corrective."--Phil Klay For Francisco Cantú the border is in the blood: his mother, a park ranger and daughter of a Mexican immigrant, raised him in the scrublands of the Southwest. Haunted by the landscape of his youth, Cantú joins the Border Patrol. He and his partners are posted to remote regions crisscrossed by drug routes and smuggling corridors, where they learn to track other humans under blistering sun and through frigid nights. They haul in the dead and deliver to detention those they find alive. Cantú tries not to think where the stories go from there. Plagued by nightmares, he abandons the Patrol for civilian life. But when an immigrant friend travels to Mexico to visit his dying mother and does not return, Cantú discovers that the border has migrated with him, and now he must know the whole story. Searing and unforgettable, The Line Becomes a River makes urgent and personal the violence our border wreaks on both sides of the line"--… (mais)
Adicionado recentemente porLHSSSDept, idkwtph, emoulding, hmonkeyreads, redmama68, Danniroo
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A thought provoking memoir of Cantu's time with the Border Patrol. He was raised along this beautiful border but felt a great need to better understand it. I loved his dedication page: "To my mother and grandfather, for giving me life and a name, and to all those who risk their souls to traverse or patrol an unnatural divide"; for that is what the border is, an unnatural divide between two amazing cultures who can only clash because of preconceived ideas and xenophobia.

Well written! ( )
  juju2cat | Nov 26, 2023 |
“One of my principal goals in The Line Becomes a River was to create space for readers to inhabit an emergent sense of horror at the suffering that takes place every day at the border. In narrating my own gradual participation in the various degrees of violence inflicted in the fulfillment of our nation’s immigration policies and enforcement practices, I sought to leave room for readers to construct their own moral interpretation of the events described.” – Francisco Cantú, The Line Becomes a River

Francisco Cantú is of Mexican American descent and has lived and worked for many years along the US-Mexico border. In this memoir, he recounts his experiences as a former border patrol officer, an intelligence agent, and friend of an illegal migrant trying to return to his family in the US. This book provides a description of the issues related to the border from different perspectives. Along the way, the author provides historical context, humanizes the people involved, and brings it to a personal level by examining the dynamics within his own family.

He explores the actions of border agents, cartels, coyotes (guides), smugglers, and regular people looking for a better life. There are no easy answers to the border problems, and this book does not try to solve them. Rather, it offers insights to assist in understanding them. Highly recommended.
( )
  Castlelass | Oct 30, 2022 |
Call him Paco. Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no money as a Fulbright fellow, and nothing particular to interest him in academia, he thought he would join the Border Patrol and see the desert part of the world. As a writer, Francisco Cantu sets up not the immigration treatise that press reports had prepared me for, but a quest in the manner of Moby-Dick.

This is no policy thesis--Cantu wants to experience the frontier as an ordinary border cop. His discussion of the narco wars is just a Melvillesque midsection discursion, like something told on the quarterdeck before the white whale finally surfaces (avast there! spoilers ahead). Throughout his journey searching for drug smugglers, Cantu documents the humanity of others as he struggles to retain his own. He imagines coming to terms with the border through coexistence, as St. Francis tamed the wolf; instead the toll the border claims on migrants claims his dreams and puts other relationships at a distance. His voyage then takes a strange turn: Cantu abandons la migre, only to approach the border beast again soon enough.

As news reports try to address border myths (this story was tucked inside my library copy of the book), I wanted to see the wicked criminal justice issues firsthand. Cantu's most bracing contribution comes in his narrative not as a border agent, but as the friend of a family swallowed up in an Operation Streamline deportation procedure. Only when he learns the dark choices that migrants accept do we truly know the nature of the beast.
  rynk | Jul 11, 2021 |
nonfiction (an academic takes a job as border guard to learn more about the nuanced repercussions of border policy) ( )
  reader1009 | Jul 3, 2021 |
“Ik blijf proberen om over te steken”
Dit is zeker geen boek om vrolijk van te worden. Ik dacht verkeerdelijk dat het om een roman ging, maar dit is docu-fictie, blijkbaar gebaseerd op de eigen ervaringen van de auteur. Francisco Cantu focust op de grensproblematiek tussen de Verenigde Staten en Mexico, en hoe de kleine mens daarin vermalen wordt, zowel de Mexicanen die wanhopig proberen de VS binnen te komen, als de grensbewakers die ‘in het systeem zitten’. Cantu is zelf half van Mexicaanse afkomst, en is gebiologeerd door die grens, in die mate zelfs dat hij mét een universitair diploma op zak toch 4 jaar voor de Border Patrol, de Amerikaanse grenspolitie gaat werken. Dat levert schrijnende taferelen op over haveloze vluchtelingen in de woestijn, misbruikt door de drugstrafikanten en dikwijls ook hard aangepakt door de grensbewakers, al blijken die ook hun menselijke kantjes te hebben.
Cantu brengt niet alleen de kleine en grote verhalen van ellende, maar last ook korte betogen in over de geschiedenis van de grens, over de terreur van de narco-maffia in Mexico, en over de onverbiddelijke logica van de Amerikaanse migratiewetten. Allemaal erg ontluisterend.
Persoonlijk had ik het wat moeilijker met Cantu’s eigen verhaal, zijn obsessie met die grens, die zich dikwijls ook uit in heel intense dromen, en waar hij onder andere Jung bij haalt om ze te analyseren. Die persoonlijke focus overtuigde me niet helemaal, ze doet wat geforceerd aan.
Hij sluit af met het aandoenlijke en schrijnende verhaal van zijn Mexicaanse vriend José die al 30 jaar illegaal in de VS woont en er een gezin heeft gesticht, maar zich een hele hoop miserie op de hals haalt als hij zijn stervende moeder aan de andere kant van de grens gaat bezoeken. Cantu registreert het allemaal, niet-moraliserend, met nuances aan beide kanten, en weet daarmee de verscheurdheid van de migratieproblematiek én zijn eigen verscheurdheid treffend te illustreren. ( )
  bookomaniac | Aug 12, 2020 |
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""A beautiful, fiercely honest, and nevertheless deeply empathetic look at those who police the border and the migrants who risk - and lose - their lives crossing it. In a time of often ill-informed or downright deceitful political rhetoric, this book is an invaluable corrective."--Phil Klay For Francisco Cantú the border is in the blood: his mother, a park ranger and daughter of a Mexican immigrant, raised him in the scrublands of the Southwest. Haunted by the landscape of his youth, Cantú joins the Border Patrol. He and his partners are posted to remote regions crisscrossed by drug routes and smuggling corridors, where they learn to track other humans under blistering sun and through frigid nights. They haul in the dead and deliver to detention those they find alive. Cantú tries not to think where the stories go from there. Plagued by nightmares, he abandons the Patrol for civilian life. But when an immigrant friend travels to Mexico to visit his dying mother and does not return, Cantú discovers that the border has migrated with him, and now he must know the whole story. Searing and unforgettable, The Line Becomes a River makes urgent and personal the violence our border wreaks on both sides of the line"--

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