Border & Immigration

Emily Bogel / NPR

This week on Fronteras:

We continue our conversation with Francisco Cantú, former Border Patrol agent and author of “The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border.”

The book recounts Cantú’s time patrolling the deserts of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, where he encountered drug smugglers, as well as immigrants looking for better lives in the U.S.

In part two of our interview:

  • Cantu recounts his time living and working in El Paso.
  • The stresses of the job are revealed in nightmares (3.07 ).
  • Realizing it was time to leave the agency (4.34).
  • Why writing was a way to come to terms with internal struggles from his job (7.40).
  • Befriending Jose Martinez, an undocumented immigrant after leaving the agency (10.06).
  • Reads an excerpt from the book recounting Martinez’s deportation courtroom hearing (13.42).
  • Why immigrants like Martinez are determined to cross into the U.S. despite increased border security (17.25).


In his memoir “The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border,” Francisco Cantú uses a writing technique that might strike readers as unusual.

When he is writing dialogue, he omits quotation marks.

Cantú said quotation marks pull us away from the action on the page.

This week on Fronteras:

A conversation with Francisco Cantú, former Border Patrol agent and author of “The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border.”

He begins by talking about becoming an agent in 2008 and what he witnessed in the harsh Arizona desert. Cantú also discusses the inspiration behind the title “The Line Becomes a River” (3:35), and why he felt he needed to join the Border Patrol to understand immigration issues (6:30)

From his first days as a field agent in the Tucson (11:19) to tales of the immigrants he encountered in the field (16:36) to Cantú's eventual transfer to El Paso, where he begins to see how U.S. immigration policy “weaponizes the landscape.” 


Norma Martinez / Texas Public Radio

This week on Fronteras:

  • Despite uncertainty surrounding the future of the border wall, security companies are getting a leg up on offering the latest technologies.
  • Wildlife officials are putting up another barrier on the border — against rabies, that is (2:18).
  • San Antonio poet laureate Jenny Browne creates a poetry exchange and art display highlighting San Antonio’s hidden history (6:48).
  • A San Antonio art exhibit gives a ‘voz’ to the Latino immigrant experience (15:05).
  • Remembering the art historian who created one of the largest collections of Spanish art in Texas (17:19).


President Trump’s immigration framework calls for eventual citizenship for young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, funding for a border wall and crackdowns on legal and illegal immigration.

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