An impassioned, heavy-handed testimony on the state of the U.S.-Mexican border wars.
A staunch human rights advocate, veteran journalist Eichstaedt (Above the Din of War: Afghans Speak About Their Lives, Their Country, and Their Future—and Why America Should Listen, 2013, etc.) traveled to the Southwest borderlands to report on the drug and immigration troubles marking Mexico as “terra incognita.” There, he met humanitarian groups like the Tucson Samaritans, who are responsible for randomly dropping food and water rations for illegal immigrants crossing the desert. These migrants, the author notes, fall prey to the systematic and corporeal processes of U.S. Border Patrol, a government body employing technologically advanced territorial surveillance including aerostat drones and night-vision telescoped Humvees, all of which Eichstaedt perceives as excessive and wasteful. A section on the Columbus, N.M., gun-smuggling scandal involving town officials further demonstrates the area’s historic potential for violence and corruption. Often a circuitous route, Mexican citizens who choose to abandon their country find themselves at the mercy of greedy “coyotes” (paid border guides/human smugglers), vicious “desert bandits” and drug cartel assassins. The author bolsters his astute reportage with interviews with migrants desperate for American opportunities, controversial border control crusaders, politicians and law enforcement agents. He also provides a fascinating tour of Tucson’s Border Patrol offices and their complex surveillance of various ports of entry. As philanthropic as his perspective edge may be throughout the text, Eichstaedt rarely mentions that undocumented border breaches remain fundamentally unlawful. A dogmatic final chapter further criticizes modern border-protection tactics and statistical assumptions while promoting a “sweeping guest worker visa program” and an appeal for the reconsideration of current immigration policies.
Earnestly reported material skewed (however compassionately) to place the plight of autonomous emigrants above American territorial laws.