Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Review of Francisco Cantú's The Line Becomes a River

You're a hard person if Francisco Cantú's The Line Becomes a River (2018) does not move you. It is a memoir of a sensitive Mexican-American who joined the Border Patrol so that he could understand the border situation better, and was traumatized by the experience.

The book is about his struggle to understand it all. Why are people violent? Why don't people care? How can you successfully struggle against the incarceration/deportation machine of the United States government? And when people do care, why? These questions become especially pressing when someone he knows--a husband, a father--is deported and he tries to help him. He does not come up with firm answers but does a wonderful job of describing what he feels and what he sees, from the Border Patrol, to the prison, to the courthouse, and to Mexico.

It's about helplessness, really, but that's the reality of our current immigration system, not to mention the corruption of the Mexican government, which is also a theme. But it is a reminder to keep humanizing migrants as individuals rather than aggregate numbers, trying to re-connect their lives.

Update 6/12/18: I had been unaware of the controversy surrounding the book. I must say I did not get even the slightest sense he was trying to praise the Border Patrol or in any way profit from suffering. I just didn't.


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