The Line Becomes a River Book Review Essay Example

The Line Becomes a River Book Review Essay Example
📌Category: Books, Literature
📌Words: 1154
📌Pages: 5
📌Published: 18 August 2020

Cantu’s book, The Line Becomes a River, revolves around certain times in the author’s life that emphasize the hardships and predicaments that he encountered as a government agent due to his morals and Hispanic familial background. The book emphasizes the difficulties that not only the author faces as a Border Patrol agent, but also incorporates the author’s knowledge as to the difficulties that the immigrants experience as well. This book shines a light on the adversities that both sides, immigrants and certain government agents, encounter in regard to border crimes and immigration. 

How the Author Positions It

The author, Mr. Cantu, first explains his reasoning as to why he decided to join the Border Patrol agency. He expresses that due to his upbringing as a Hispanic he should be able to better assist and understand the immigrants than other agents and be able to make a significant difference to those who encounter agents like himself. Throughout the book the author experiences situations in which his morals are put to the test as he realizes that as a government agent he must obey and enforce the statutes that are in place regardless of the circumstances and people that he comes across. 

In the book the author discusses how he recognized that throughout his years as a Border Patrol agent his objective of becoming sympathetic and helpful to the immigrants he came across was derailed and pushed aside so that he could fulfill his governmental duties. Therefore, the author is describing the issue that various governmental agents confront on a daily basis pertaining to those whose primary goal is to assist but are being forced to brush aside what they want to do for what they legally must do. 

Therefore, as a reader we are able to apply this very prevalent issue that the author mentions regarding the predicament which agents, especially from border cities like Laredo, encounter due to the fact that the majority of Border Patrol agents down here are Hispanic, with Hispanic family connections, and are being forced to blindly obey their administrative obligations, which ultimately affect most people of their same race to which they feel a connection to. 

The majority of the agents are well aware of the life-threatening issues presiding just across the border and often those that are Hispanic are familiar with the perils due to the fact that family members, friends, or even neighbors have encountered these dangers themselves; thus, compelling agents to yearn to turn a blind eye or simply treat the immigrants they meet with compassion and humanity. 

However, as the author mentions throughout the book, agents are often not empathetic as their job makes it much more strenuous on them if they allow themselves to feel a connection with the immigrants since they know that their duties pertain to detain and return these vulnerable people to a place in which their lives are recurrently being threatened. This theme that is discussed throughout the book speaks volumes as to how our government expects agents to treat others who they unfoundedly declare criminals, which in turn speaks about how the US government perceives its role in regard to the state of affairs in Mexico and other similar countries.

 It is evident that our country does not have sympathy for those whose lives are being severely affected due to the increase in crime and financial instability. Our government seems to only be concerned with the well-being of its citizens and no one else without feeling the necessity to lend a helping hand to the people who are crucially in need. The fact that our government declared a national emergency due to the amount of people seeking asylum in our nation instead of directing the means to assist them teaches us that our country does not see any responsibility to help combat the issues that the citizens of countries like Mexico are facing. 

Latin Countries Issues

The author also discourses about the issues that take place in countries such as Mexico and other Latin American states that urge the citizens of those countries to take the risk of entering the United States at whatever means necessary. In the latter chapters of his book, the author mentions his connection with a Mexican immigrant, José, who suffered through the difficulties of having to cross illegally and being deported. 

The author, as previously having worked as a Border Patrol, knew better than most about the menaces that immigrants encounter when crossing the border. Mr. Cantu mentions the precarious possibilities that immigrants like José may be forced to endure throughout their passage in deserts much like the one he worked in. Possibilities such as that of becoming dehydrated, getting lost, getting bit by a snake, getting injured throughout their journey, and being left behind without supplies to die are all emphasized throughout the book. 

In border cities it is not rare for immigrants to be found in near-death conditions requiring exigent medical attention due to their arduous journey into our country. However, this issue entices the reader to contemplate just how desperate those who attempt to cross are. It is often those whose lives are consistently being threatened that come to the US seeking asylum and stability. The author alludes to the fact that most people who attempt to cross the border are not as vicious as the media and our government perceive them to be.

As citizens of a border town most of us are already cognizant of this fact due to firsthand knowledge. Most of the immigrants that pass by are looking for a safe place to live or steady jobs to be able to provide for their loved ones. Unfortunately for the citizens of other states that do not have the experience that we do with these immigrants, they are painted a picture of violent and impecunious lazy people who are only coming into this country to create chaos and leech off our taxpayers’ money.

Fortunately, this book makes it a point to teach the readers that are ignorant and inexperienced about the true reasons that nearly all immigrants come to American for, that there is another side of the story not just that which is depicted by our government and certain extremists. This educates the readers about the current state of affairs in countries such as Mexico and allows them to have a better understanding as to the reality that these immigrants are forced to return to after being deported. The author includes in his book how José’s life was threatened simply because he defended his family after they were extorted for money. It allows the readers to learn about how there is little-to-no governmental protections to the people in these countries as they are forced to live in constant fear of being victims of formidable crimes such as extortion, torture, abuse, and even murder.  


Overall, this book enlightens the readers that are not well-informed regarding the issues that many immigrants and government agents are facing in their everyday lives. Mr. Cantu’s book shares his primary experience as a Hispanic Border Patrol agent, as well as a friend and a family member of other Hispanics that had to undergo the very same hardships which he was forced to disregard as a government agent. The book is especially eye-opening to those who are unaware of the circumstances present that lead to an increase in illegal immigration. The Line Becomes a River is a truly informative book that illustrates many of the issues that affect our nation’s borderland crime.


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