Fronteras: Stories From The Border & Beyond — Part Two

Feb 23, 2018

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).


Francisco Cantú
Credit Beowulf Sheehan

The book is in three parts: his early experience as a field agent in the Tucson sector in Arizona, patrolling the Texas and New Mexico deserts in the El Paso sector, and ultimately leaving the agency in 2012. Cantú is a former Fulbright fellow, and is a recipient of a Pushcart Prize and a 2017 Whiting Award.

Norma Martinez can be reached by email norma@tpr.org and on Twitter @NormDog1