Border: Exploring the U.S.-Mexican Divide, The
Author: David Danelo
Publisher: Stackpole Books ()
Binding: Hardcover, pages
Thoughtful investigative report about a central issue of the 2008 presidential race
- Asks and answers the core questions: Should we close the border? Is a fence or wall the answer? Is the U.S. government capable of fully securing the border?
- Examines the border in human terms through a cast of colorful characters
- Reviews the political, economic, social, and cultural aspects
- Discusses NAFTA, immigration policy, border security, and other local, regional, national, and international issues
More than 250 million people cross the U.S.- Mexican border legally each year, and as many as 10 million do so illegally, making the border--la frontera to Mexicans--the most traversed national boundary on the planet. In an age of terrorism and economic uncertainty, that border is already one of the most hotly debated issues in American politics and is certain to play a prominent role in the 2008 campaign for president. In 2007, David Danelo spent three months traveling the 1,952 miles that separate the United States and Mexico, beginning at Boca Chica, Texas, and traveling to the westernmost limit at Border Field State Park in California--a journey that took him across four states and two countries through a world of rivers and canals, mountains and deserts, highways and dirt roads, fences and border towns. Here the border isn_t just an abstraction thrown around in political debates in Washington; it_s a physical reality, infinitely more complex than most politicians believe. Danelo_s reporting digs beneath the debate and attempts to explain the border and related issues--from legal and illegal immigration to NAFTA and border fences--as they are experienced by the people who live and work there: businessmen, smugglers, Minutemen, migrants, humanitarians, border patrol agents, government officials, and everyday people in the U.S. and Mexico. The divide is great, as Danelo makes clear, but so is the opportunity. Refreshing in the new perspectives it offers and captivating in its depiction of this vibrant, if troubled, region, The Border is an essential starting point for understanding this vital topic.
MWSA 2008 Gold Medal for Non-Fiction, Current Affairs
Is the Mexican-American border defensible? Should it be? These are questions that our politicians in Washington should be asking, but are not, so former Marine David Danelo drove the 1,951.63 mile border from the Gulf of Mexico’s Boca Chica, Texas to Border Field State Park on California’s Pacific coast, and he asks the questions for us.
Danelo took three months driving along both sides of the border, and his interviews and observations illuminate the growing divide between the two countries, and also whether or not the real crisis is immigration or narcotics. Talking with citizens of both Mexico and the United States in the major border cities of Matamoros – Laredo – Ciudad Juarez – Nogales- and San Diego, he personalizes the situation with a series of interviews with Border Patrol agents local sheriff’s, church groups, Minutemen, various American and Mexican citizens, and even a couple of Mexican teenagers who were about to be deported.
It is when talking to these young men, and a Mormon couple in Arizona, that Danelo cuts to the heart of the matter “why do Americans hate us so much,” the teenager asks, “why do they pay us so much to work for them, and then kick us out?” An interesting question, to be sure, and especially when posed to the couple who run a restaurant in Arizona. The husband and wife find themselves torn between wanting to obey American immigration law, yet troubled that not only do American teenagers refuse work as busboys and dishwashers, but that they are breaking the law by providing work that gives hope, dignity, and survival to otherwise impoverished individuals. These are good questions, and ones whose eventual answers will help provide solutions to the problem.
The immigration question is a complex one, and Danelo touches on its many facets. The issues are a combination of economics, growth of the ‘narcotraficantes’ and the recent orgy of ‘narco-killings’, cultural change as American demographics morph from Anglo to Latino…all of which is due to a slowly failing state (Mexico) whose citizens are fleeing by the hundreds of thousands for a better life. Similar to situation in Iraq, where peace came only after the Iraqi government became engaged with their own citizens, the immigration situation must include the Mexican government becoming more engaged in resolving those conflicts that otherwise send its citizens walking north.
The first 535 copies of The Border printed should be delivered to our congressmen and senators. This is a book that discusses immigration without a political slant, which makes it a rarity in these days of Lou Dobbs-led hysteria. The Border is an impartial, honest, and well-written synposis of the situation on the border; Danelo asks all the right questions - now let’s see if anyone in Washington can provide an equally thoughtful answer.
Reviewed by: Andrew Lubin (2008)