Learning and Teaching
- Read the Center for Victims of Torture’snew backgrounder, “Arbitrary & Cruel: How U.S. Immigration Detention Violates the Convention against Torture and Other International Obligations,” which illustrates how the dehumanizing and cruel policies and practices in the immigration detention system violate the Convention against Torture, and makes the case that the system must be eliminated for the United States to comply with international law.
- Watch two short videos (one minute each) by Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS): One shares a truly terrifying projection of 100,000 unaccompanied children at the U.S. Mexico border this year; the other is a lovely prayer for migrant children.
- Check out this beautiful and powerful “visual op-ed” (“cartoon” doesn’t do it justice!) on border wall construction.
- Guest columnist Brian Fauver, who hosted two asylum seekers in his home, argues in Boulder Weekly—in well-reasoned detail—why migrants need compassion, not surveillance.
- The Biden administration’s prioritization of immigration is encouraging, but there is a critical priority that has yet to be addressed: ICE’s deadly and inhumane detention system. Detention Watch Network created analyses and recommendations to help us collectively make sense of the shifting political landscape:
- Child Detention FAQ(April)
- Analysis of President Biden’s Executive Order on Private Prisons(March)
- Analysis of ICE Revision of Interim Enforcement and Removal Guidelines(March)
- Administrative Advocacy Priorities for the First Year of the Biden Administration(February)
- Ending Detention at the Border: Recommendations to the Biden Administration(February)
- Read any of the diverse and fascinating articles about unaccompanied minors at the U.S.-Mexico border in the collection Opinions in Print by the Green Valley-Sahuarita Samaritans.
- Listen to a Minnesota Public Radio story on the role of immigrants in our state’s economy, based on a report from the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce showing that residents born outside the U.S. spent more than $12.4 billion in Minnesota and paid $4.5 billion in taxes in 2019. Mexico, Somalia, India and Laos are the top four countries of birth for Minnesota immigrants.
The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border (Riverhead Books, 2018) by Francisco Cantú
Reviewed by Joan Thompson
In our pandemic time of being mainly at home, social media filled with photographs of lovely meals made when restaurants were not an option. These images certainly should have been a reminder of those who could not remain at home: the migrants who cultivate and pick our fruits and vegetables, and the immigrants, many undocumented, who sex the chickens and butcher the meat and poultry that fill our plates.
After college years spent studying international relations and borders, Francisco Cantú decides to learn more about the U.S./Mexico border by becoming a Border Patrol agent, much to his mother’s distress. In his engaging and important book, The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border, he relates this experience and the ways in which it impacts his life long after he leaves the job.
Cantú, fluent in Spanish, part Mexican American, and raised along the border, soon understands his mother’s fears that he might lose himself in this job. While he encounters those transporting drugs, he also witnesses his co-workers scattering migrants’ belongings in the desert and destroying their water. He tries to help migrants injured during harsh and dangerous journeys through serving as an EMT, but he realizes he is still turning those he helps over for deportation. After time on the Arizona border becomes increasingly stressful, he takes a desk job but then accepts a transfer to El Paso and more time on the border.
Four years into the job, his dreams and his memories of migrants he has encountered become ever more haunting. He accepts an opportunity to continue his studies, giving him a reason to leave the Border Patrol. While working as a barista, he becomes friends with a man from Mexico named José, who works nearby and visits with him daily. When José is swept up by Immigration and is to appear at Operation Streamline, which rapidly processes up to 75 migrants for deportation daily, Cantú gets involved in helping José and his family. In one haunting chapter, the deported José speaks to his desperate situation and that of his wife and growing sons.
Between anecdotes and recounted dreams, Cantú includes well-researched sections on the history of the border, his own family’s history, border policies through time, and philosophers and writers who speak to the ways in which these policies dehumanize migrants.
Readers should be certain to continue past the Epilogue to read the Author’s Note in which Cantú explores the ways in which border crossers are reduced to numbers. He connects the border he has experienced from multiple sides to issues of migration elsewhere in the world, as well as to the words of those who argue for treating migrants with empathy and granting them individual identities. Cantú also includes suggestions for further reading and a list of ways one can get involved with helping migrants, making his book one meant to stay with the reader.