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Border Stories

Readers' Cafe

The Beast Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail
Crisis on the Border An Eyewitness Account of Illegal Aliens, Violent Crime, and Cartels
Dear America Notes of an Undocumented Citizen
The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez A Border Story
The Devil's Highway A True Story
Fandango at the Wall Creating Harmony Between the United States and Mexico
The Far Away Brothers Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life
Homelands Four Friends, Two Countries, and the Fate of the Great Mexican-American Migration
Just Like Us The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America
The Line Becomes a River Dispatches from the Border
The Making of a Dream How a group of young undocumented immigrants helped change what it means to be American
Stranger
The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail / Oscar Martinez

One day a few years ago, 300 migrants were kidnapped between the remote desert towns of Altar, Mexico, and Sasabe, Arizona. A local priest got 120 released, many with broken ankles and other marks of abuse, but the rest vanished. ??scar Mart??nez, a young writer from El Salvador, was in Altar soon after the abduction, and his account of the migrant disappearances is only one of the harrowing stories he garnered from two years spent traveling up and down the migrant trail from Central America and across the US border. More than a quarter of a million Central Americans make this increasingly dangerous journey each year, and each year as many as 20,000 of them are kidnapped.

Mart??nez writes in powerful, unforgettable prose about clinging to the tops of freight trains; finding respite, work and hardship in shelters and brothels; and riding shotgun with the border patrol. Illustrated with stunning full-color photographs, The Beast is the first book to shed light on the harsh new reality of the migrant trail in the age of the narcotraficantes.

Crisis on the Border: An Eyewitness Account of Illegal Aliens, Violent Crime, and Cartels / Matt C. Pinsker

For six months, Army Captain Matt C. Pinsker was deployed to the Mexican-American border as a member of a unique mission. He and a handful of others were assigned to the Department of Justice as Special Prosecutors to handle the increasing number of immigration cases resulting from President Trump's "zero tolerance" policy. Once arrived, whether he was out in the field leading investigations or trying cases in the courtroom, Captain Pinsker found himself dead center handling the near-impossible challenges of America's immigration crisis. Overnight, he was directly involved in family separations, DACA, asylum seekers and refugees, the war on drugs, gun-running, the Mexican cartels, caravans, and human trafficking. And every day, he was making decisions that would permanently affect those whose lives he touched.

Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen / JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS

THE NATIONAL BESTSELLER

"This riveting, courageous memoir ought to be mandatory reading for every American." - Michelle Alexander, New York Times bestselling author of The New Jim Crow

"l cried reading this book, realizing more fully what my parents endured." - Amy Tan, New York Times bestselling author of The Joy Luck Club and Where the Past Begins

"This book couldn't be more timely and more necessary." - Dave Eggers, New York Times bestselling author of What Is the What and The Monk of Mokha

Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, called "the most famous undocumented immigrant in America," tackles one of the defining issues of our time in this explosive and deeply personal call to arms.

"This is not a book about the politics of immigration. This book--at its core--is not about immigration at all. This book is about homelessness, not in a traditional sense, but in the unsettled, unmoored psychological state that undocumented immigrants like myself find ourselves in. This book is about lying and being forced to lie to get by; about passing as an American and as a contributing citizen; about families, keeping them together, and having to make new ones when you can't. This book is about constantly hiding from the government and, in the process, hiding from ourselves. This book is about what it means to not have a home.

After 25 years of living illegally in a country that does not consider me one of its own, this book is the closest thing I have to freedom."

- Jose Antonio Vargas, from Dear America

The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez: A Border Story / Aaron Bobrow-Strain

What happens when an undocumented teen mother takes on the U.S. immigration system?

When Aida Hernandez was born in 1987 in Agua Prieta, Mexico, the nearby U.S. border was little more than a worn-down fence. Eight years later, Aida's mother took her and her siblings to live in Douglas, Arizona. By then, the border had become one of the most heavily policed sites in America.

Undocumented, Aida fought to make her way. She learned English, watched Friends, and, after having a baby at sixteen, dreamed of teaching dance and moving with her son to New York City. But life had other plans. Following a misstep that led to her deportation, Aida found herself in a Mexican city marked by violence, in a country that was not hers. To get back to the United States and reunite with her son, she embarked on a harrowing journey. The daughter of a rebel hero from the mountains of Chihuahua, Aida has a genius for survival -- but returning to the United States was just the beginning of her quest.

Taking us into detention centers, immigration courts, and the inner lives of Aida and other daring characters, The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez reveals the human consequences of militarizing what was once a more forgiving border. With emotional force and narrative suspense, Aaron Bobrow-Strain brings us into the heart of a violently unequal America. He also shows us that the heroes of our current immigration wars are less likely to be perfect paragons of virtue than complex, flawed human beings who deserve justice and empathy all the same.

The Devil's Highway: A True Story / Luis Alberto Urrea

In May 2001, a group of men attempted to cross the Mexican border into the desert of southern Arizona, through the deadliest region of the continent, the "Devil's Highway." Three years later, Luis Alberto Urrea wrote about what happened to them. The result was a national bestseller, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a "book of the year" in multiple newspapers, and a work proclaimed as a modern American classic.
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Fandango at the Wall: Creating Harmony Between the United States and Mexico / Kabir Sehgal

Multi-Grammy-winning producer and New York Times bestselling author Kabir Sehgal examines the relationship between the US and Mexico, accompanied by music from Grammy-winning musician Arturo O'Farrill and special guests.?

The US-Mexican relationship has involved periods of great friendship with robust trade and loose immigration policies. But its history has also been beset by wars, drug trade, and human trafficking. With the latest xenophobic turn toward Mexico, this book contextualizes the latest swing in the up-and-down, two-hundred-year history of these two countries. In a lyrical narrative reflecting on Fandango Fronterizo, an annual musical celebration held on both sides of the border wall, Sehgal addresses how the broken US-Mexico relationship has been repaired in the past and continues to adapt today.

The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life / LAUREN MARKHAM

The deeply reported story of identical twin brothers who escape El Salvador's violence to build new lives in California - fighting to survive, to stay, and to belong.

Growing up in rural El Salvador in the wake of the civil war, the United States was a distant fantasy to identical twins Ernesto and Raul Flores - until, at age seventeen, a deadly threat from the region's brutal gangs forces them to flee the only home they've ever known. In this urgent chronicle of contemporary immigration, journalist Lauren Markham follows the Flores twins as they make their way across the Rio Grande and the Texas desert, into the hands of immigration authorities, and from there to their estranged older brother in Oakland, CA. Soon these unaccompanied minors are navigating school in a new language, working to pay down their mounting coyote debt, and facing their day in immigration court, while also encountering the triumphs and pitfalls of teenage life with only each other for support. With intimate access and breathtaking range, Markham offers an unforgettable testament to the migrant experience.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW | WINNER OF THE RIDENHOUR BOOK PRIZE | SILVER WINNER OF THE CALIFORNIA BOOK AWARD | FINALIST FOR THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE | SHORTLISTED FOR THE J. ANTHONY LUKAS BOOK PRIZE | LONGLISTED FOR THE PEN/BOGRAD WELD PRIZE FOR BIOGRAPHY

Homelands: Four Friends, Two Countries, and the Fate of the Great Mexican-American Migration / ALFREDO CORCHADO

From prize-winning journalist and immigration expert Alfredo Corchado comes the sweeping story of the great Mexican migration from the late 1980s to today. When Corchado moved to Philadelphia in 1987, he felt as if he was the only Mexican in the city. But in a restaurant called Tequilas, he connected with two other Mexican men and one Mexican American, all feeling similarly isolated. Over the next three decades, the four friends continued to meet, coming together over their shared Mexican roots and their love of tequila. One was a radical activist, another a restaurant/tequila entrepreneur, the third a lawyer/politician. Alfredo himself was a young reporter for the "Wall Street Journal." Homelands merges the political and the personal, telling the story of the last great Mexican migration through the eyes of four friends at a time when the Mexican population in the United States swelled from 700,000 people during the 1970s to more than 35 million people today.

Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America / Helen Thorpe

Written by a gifted journalist, a powerful account of four young Mexican women coming of age in Denver - two of whom have legal documentation, two of whom who don't - and the challenges they face as they attempt to pursue the American dream. Just Like Us takes readers on a compelling journey with four young Mexican-American women who have lived in the U.S. since childhood. Exploring not only the women's personal life stories, this book also delves deep into an American subculture and the complex and controversial politics that surround the issue of immigration.

The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border / FRANCISCO CANT

For Francisco Cantu, the border is in the blood: his mother, a park ranger and daughter of a Mexican immigrant, raised him in the scrublands of the Southwest. Haunted by the landscape of his youth, Cantu joins the Border Patrol. He and his partners are posted to remote regions crisscrossed by drug routes and smuggling corridors, where they learn to track other humans under blistering sun and through frigid nights. They haul in the dead and deliver to detention those they find alive. Cantu tries not to think where the stories go from there.

Plagued by nightmares, he abandons the Patrol for civilian life. But when an immigrant friend travels to Mexico to visit his dying mother and does not return, Cantu discovers that the border has migrated with him, and now he must know the whole story. Searing and unforgettable, The Line Becomes a River makes urgent and personal the violence our border wreaks on both sides of the line.

The Making of a Dream: How a group of young undocumented immigrants helped change what it means to be American / LAURA WIDES-MUNOZ

A journalist chronicles the next chapter in civil rights - the story of a movement and a nation, witnessed through the poignant and inspiring experiences of five young undocumented activists who are transforming society's attitudes toward one of the most contentious political matters roiling America today: immigration.

They are called the DREAMers: young people who were brought, or sent, to the United States as children and who have lived for years in America without legal status. Growing up, they often worked hard in school, planned for college, only to learn they were, in the eyes of the United States government and many citizens, "illegal aliens."

Determined to take fate into their own hands, a group of these young undocumented immigrants risked their safety to "come out" about their status - sparking a transformative movement, engineering a seismic shift in public opinion on immigration, and inspiring other social movements across the country. Their quest for permanent legal protection under the so-called "Dream Act," stalled. But in 2012, the Obama administration issued a landmark, new immigration policy: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which has since protected more than half a million young immigrants from deportation even as efforts to install more expansive protections remain elusive.

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Stranger / Jorge Ramos

Jorge Ramos, an Emmy award-winning journalist, Univision's longtime anchorman and widely considered the "voice of the voiceless" within the Latino community, was forcefully removed from an Iowa press conference in 2015 by then-candidate Donald Trump after trying to ask about his plans on immigration.

In this personal manifesto, Ramos sets out to examine what it means to be a Latino immigrant, or just an immigrant, in present-day America. With current research and statistics, a journalist nose for a story, and his own personal experience, Ramos shows us the changing face of America while trying to find an explanation for why he, and millions of others, still feel like strangers in this country.
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