Crossing the Mexican-American Border

By Lukie Marriott

A sampling of the many fiction and nonfiction books, as well as movies, that focus on the policies, perils and corruption surrounding the Mexican-American border. A divisive topic in political debates today, maybe these materials will provide some insight.

  • Signs Preceding the End of the World

    2015 by Yuri Herrera

    In this short, darkly mythological novel, a Mexican woman navigates the violent world of border crossings. Herrera, one of Mexico's most acclaimed literary exports, writes about wretchedness with intensity but not without an impish sense of humor.

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  • Illegal : reflections of an undocumented immigrant

    2014 by José Ángel N

    The anonymous author crawled through a tunnel to live undocumented in the U.S. Now, educated, married and successful, but always living in dread of discovery, he gives eloquent voice to the millions living in the shadows. This book is featured in Viva! the 2016 Coming Together in Skokie and Niles Township program.

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  • Detained and Deported : stories of immigrant families under fire

    2015 by Margaret Regan

    The author focuses on the harsh conditions of the Sonora Borderlands detention centers where border crossers languish, sometimes for years. She also reports on deportees who have been sent far away from their families in the U.S. An intimate, heartbreaking look at people caught between borders.

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  • Illegal immigration


    Part of the Opposing Viewpoints series, this book offers essays on both sides of the illegal immigration debate, such as, are illegal immigrants treated justly and do illegal immigrants hurt the U.S. economy?

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  • Devils and Dust

    2015 by J. D. Rhoades

    For the suspense reader, a gritty, action-packed novel in which bounty hunter Jack Keller searches for the sons his friend had arranged to have transported illegally across the border. The tough guy cast includes human traffickers, drug lords and a white supremacist group.

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  • The Devil's Highway : a true story

    2004 by Luis Alberto Urrea

    In May of 2001, fourteen out of 26 men succumbed to dehydration in the Arizona desert after attempting to cross illegally into the United States. Using testimony from the survivors as well as extensive investigation, Urrea has written a blazing indictment of the U.S. immigration policy.

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  • Into the Beautiful North : a novel

    2009 by Luis Alberto Urrea

    By the same author as above, but completely different, this is a delightful novel with humor and a refreshing plot twist. A group of young Mexicans, led by accomplished martial artist Nayeli, cross the border not to live in the U.S. but to bring their men back home. I highly recommend the audiobook.

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  • And Hell Followed with Her : crossing the dark side of the American Border

    2013 by David A Neiwert

    A frightening true-crime murder investigation by an award-winning journalist of the anti-immigration Minuteman Project. The Tucson Weekly calls it "chilling" and cautions that "...the impulse that gave rise to the Minuteman project—the hatred and bigotry of the extremist right—has not gone away.”

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  • The Right to Stay Home : how US policy drives Mexican migration

    2013 by David Bacon

    Bacon explores the harsh conditions and exploitation of migrant workers, enhanced by personal narratives. He envisions a world in which environmental destruction and poverty would not drive immigrants from their homes but would allow them "the right to stay home."

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  • The Guardians : a novel

    2007 by Ana Castillo

    Gabo's mother was murdered by "coyotes," and now his father, a frequent, legal border crosser, has gone missing. His aunt searches frantically for him and others who have gone missing in this tragic, gripping novel.

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  • Midnight on the Line : the secret life of the U.S.-Mexico border

    2009 by Tim Gaynor

    Reuters reporter, Gaynor, went on a 45-mile trek down the illegal alien "superhighway," where he met up with Native American trackers who took him through a network of tunnels. He exposed corruption among the border patrol agents who exchanged sex or money for helping smugglers.

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  • El Norte

    2009 by Gregory Nava

    In this film, a Mayan brother and sister flee the massacre of their village and make a perilous journey across the border to the U.S. Once in Los Angeles, life is far from easy for the uneducated, illegal teenagers. Anyone who has seen this movie will never EVER forget the sewer tunnel scene and its aftermath.

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  • Bordertown

    2007 by Gregory Nava

    When a young girl is raped and left for dead, two reporters work to expose the terrors of the Mexican border, endangering themselves in the process. This movie is based on true events. Starring Antonio Banderas and Jennifer Lopez.

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