The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border – by Francisco Cantú – independent book review – Non-fiction

Eloquent, Emotional and Disturbing Look at the Dark Underbelly of US Immigration Policy. Awarded four stars on Goodreads

Through simple, concise and beautifully crafted language, this book does more to explain the complexities involved in immigration policy than any thing else I’ve read.

The author, a former border patrol officer himself, weaves together a rich and provocative collection of his own experiences and impressions from the job, anecdotes, and profoundly human immigrant stories into a novel that, quite honestly, is very difficult to read.
• There are callous border officers relentlessly seeking out and arresting illegals.
• There are impoverished and desperate immigrants (including women and children) who are routinely abused, cheated, left abandoned, and even murdered by “guides” hired to sneak them across the border.
• There are massive drug trafficking operations, where torture and murder are commonplace.
• And there are way too many migrants who disappear in the desert –sometimes simply because of insufficient water or excessive heat.
And there, at the center of it all, a legal system that comes off as harsh, random and insensitive in the ways it attempts to dispense “justice.”

Throughout the book, author Francisco Cantu (who is part Mexican) appears to be trying to make sense of all the conflicts and complexities inherent in U.S. immigration policy enforcement. And the ways in which his work permanently changes him.

He also follows, in detail, one representative but deeply sad story of Jose, a hardworking but illegal family man, who has lived in the US for 30 years, but makes the mistake of returning to Mexico to attend his mother’s deathbed.

Francisco Cantú

By the end of this narrative, it is painfully clear that all of us too often are distracted by cerebral policy discussions and meaningless statistics, forgetting that each number represents a single individual’s own deeply human desire and commitment to living a better life.

More about the author, Francisco Cantú.