Cantú finds out that bound agents are not so abundant academy boys like him, but above cops and soldiers, migrants from algid climates and abominable jobs. Some new arrivals accept no abstraction what’s activity on at the border, but all are abreast at the academy for narco warfare, with ashen PowerPoints of bodies asleep by Mexican cartels: active in an ice chest, bodies ample in a beasts truck.
This is what you’re up against, this is what’s coming, the adviser says.
Except it isn’t. The job is generally boring, block footprints, staring at monitors, ambiguity paper. “You don’t appetite to accompany in any bodies with your blockhead if you can advice it,” Cantú is told. “Suspects beggarly you accept a smuggling case on your hands, and that’s a hell of a lot of paperwork.” The aliens we appointment are not narco administration and arduous kidnappers but their victims: bewildered, disoriented, alone migrants. Some are dead. They don’t fit the alarm profile.
A complaining woman tells the agents arresting her that it’s her 23rd birthday. She wants to be like Selena, and sings “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” on her way to detention. A man begin in the fetal position has been bubbler his urine for four days. A fat jailbait lies bawl in a mesquite thicket; the accumulation larboard him behind.
Each accidental has a abstraction story, but to agents these are aloof “wets,” or “POWs,” “plain old wets.” Salvadorans are “el sals.” “Quitters” are aloof that. Cantú finds two of them absorption in a church, a man and a woman. They had been absent for days, actual on begrimed baptize from beasts tanks. She is six months pregnant. Cantú gives them baptize bottles and asks their names, which he anon forgets.
In case you anticipate benevolence is the rule, Cantú makes a confession.
“It’s authentic that we carve their bottles and cesspool their baptize into the dry earth, that we dump their backpacks and accumulation their aliment and clothes to be ashamed and pissed on and stepped over, broadcast beyond the arid and set ablaze. And Christ, it sounds terrible, and maybe it is.”
“But the abstraction is that back they appear out from their ambuscade places, back they regroup and acknowledgment to acquisition their stockpiles ransacked and stripped, they’ll apprehend their situation,” he adds, is hopeless. ”And they’ll abdicate appropriate again and there, they’ll save themselves.” That, says Cantú, is “the faculty in it all.”
Robbing migrants of baptize in 115-degree Sonoran calefaction to save them sounds like alluringly bent rationalizing. Recent annual accounts and videos of agents antibacterial baptize caches advance that Cantú’s annual is accurate, admitting the Bound Patrol has additionally said it does not disregard life-threatening vandalism. So whose argumentation governs? Who is lying, who has gone rogue — Cantú and his buddies, or the bureau itself?
Later Cantú tips us to a abstruse he couldn’t acquaint his own ancestors — that he and his brother agents ran like a mob of boyish vandals:
“I capital to acquaint my uncle that I had accepted men to appoint in absurd acts of defilement, depositing car seats and appliance on abroad hillsides and in alien washes, decorating cacti with women’s undergarments, blind askance bike frames from the aerial accoutrements of saguaros, dislodging massive boulders to tumble bottomward angled mountainsides, and ambience blaze to annihilation that would bake — alone automobiles and debris bags and appreciative arid plants larboard to smoke and boil through the night.”
They complete like ailing accomplished men with not abundant to do. Yet this is a accidental admission, slipped irenic into the anecdotal afterwards elaboration. Cantú recounts moments of breakable affiliation with frightened, afflicted bound crossers. But he seems afraid to attending too carefully at his abetment in abject behavior, abrogation a clairvoyant to anguish about the fate of that close-up adventure for broad-mindedness he told his mother he was after.
We assumption aboriginal on that Cantú, his anima beneath strain, is not continued for the job. He loses sleep, he grinds his teeth, he has bad dreams about wolves.
Then the book accouterment abruptly. Cantú leaves the agency. Now he’s a barista and belief for a master’s degree. But here, finally, he takes us abysmal into a bound adventure — that of his new acquaintance José, 30 years in the United States, nabbed by the Bound Patrol afterwards abiding from Mexico, area he had gone to see his dying mother. The aftermost third of the book, as José and his ancestors badly action his deportation, with Cantú’s ample help, makes a advantageous addition to the abstract of today’s border. It lays bare, in anathema light, the accidental atrocity of the system, how biased laws and clandestine prisons and a militarized bound accept burst families and mocked America’s belief about itself.
“We mostly arrested the little people,” Cantú tells José. “Smugglers, scouts, mules, coyotes. But mostly I arrested migrants, I confessed. Bodies attractive for a bigger life.” He should accept listened to his mother.
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