Subtle and thoughtful, the horrors at the border are not graphic or sensational, and yet the images are haunting. Mr. Cantú’s memoir maps his journey from idealist – he joined the Border Patrol to reform from within – to nightmare-dreamer to writer and compassionate friend.
It’s a blend of his personal experience, the history of the physical border, a brief foray into Mexican politics, and the story of his friend José’s deportation and attempts to re-enter the U.S.
I read The Devil’s Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea several years ago, and thought that account was much more harrowing in terms of human trauma and drama of walking across the desert. However, The Line brings up the topic of “moral injury” (p. 150) which was highlighted/underlined/page bent by more than one of us at our book club discussion. (For me, it referenced the “ethical fading” in Simon Sinek’s The Infinite Game.) The moral injury our Border Patrol and we as a nation are sinking into is the truly scary drama.
The book is written in three sections, and in the last Mr. Cantú lets his José have the last word … so I will as well:
“Some politicians in the United States think that if a mother or father is deported, this will cause the entire family to move back to Mexico. But in fact, the mothers and fathers with the best family values will want their family to stay in the U.S., they will cross the border again and again to be with them. So you see, these same people, the ones with the most dedication to their family, they begin to build up a record of deportation, they have more and more problems with the government, and it becomes harder and harder for them to ever become legal. In this way, the U.S. is making criminals out of those who could become its very best citizens.” p. 237
4/5 stars important American reading “A must-read for anyone who thinks ‘build a wall’ is the answer” (from the cover)