Tuesday, April 27, 2010

From the Bookshelves: The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona-Mexico Borderlands by Margaret Regan

The Death of Josseline Immigration Stories from the Arizona-Mexico Borderlands By Margaret Regan (Beacon Press, Hardcover, 256pp.) Publication Date: February 2010.  She was a little girl with a big name—Josseline Jamileth Hernández Quinteros. Just five feet tall and a hundred pounds, she had an adult-sized responsibility: the fourteen-year-old was to shepherd her ten-year-old brother all the way from Honduras to their mother in Los Angeles. But Josseline fell ill in a remote Arizona desert, just north of the Mexico line, and her smuggler and the rest of her group abandoned her. She died alone in the wilderness in February 2008.

For nearly a decade, Margaret Regan has reported on the chaos along the Arizona-Mexico border, ground zero for immigration since 2000. Undocumented migrants like Josseline cross into the state in overwhelming numbers, pushed into its dangerous deserts by a U.S. border policy that seals off safer urban crossings. In peak years, Border Patrol agents in Arizona’s Tucson Sector catch more than a thousand migrants a day. And Arizona has the highest number of migrant deaths; Josseline was just one of thousands to perish in its deserts and mountains. Set against the dramatic landscape of the untamed West—a rocky wilderness of mesquites and cacti, where summer temperatures hit 115—Regan’s book tells stories of the people caught up in this international tragedy. Traveling to both sides of the border, she visits migrants stranded in Mexican shelters and rides shotgun with the Border Patrol, hiking with them in the scorching Arizona desert. She camps in the back country with "No More Deaths" activists and speaks to angry ranchers and vigilantes.

Regan writes firsthand of the desperation that compels people to cross, of the environmental damage wrought by the new border wall, and of the unidentified bodies piled up in a Tucson morgue. She documents the increasing militarization of the borderlands, a place where Black Hawk helicopters clatter overhead and U.S. citizens are randomly stopped on the roads. As one Border Patrol agent explains, "When it comes to the border, there’s an asterisk on the Constitution."

Regan’s on-the-ground reportage puts her in the heart of America’s complicated story of immigration. Her extraordinary ability to witness guarantees that the stories and characters you encounter here will stay with you, long after you finish the book.

About the Author:  Margaret Regan has won a dozen regional and national journalism awards for her border reporting for the Tucson Weekly and other publications. She lives with her family in Tucson, sixty-four miles from the Mexico border.



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