Customer Reviews: Hard Line: Life and Death on the U.S.-Mexico Border
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on July 28, 2004
This is a fascinating book about an incredibly complicated subject. Ellingwood lets the people on both sides on the border and all sides of the issue tell their stories. I don't think it is possible to be more fair or thorough or compelling in reporting on this topic. The reader that considered this a biased work must be confusing it with another book.
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on June 21, 2004
This book should be read by anyone interested in an impartial discussion of the human consequences -- namely the deaths of thousands of migrants -- of the great increase in U.S. border enforcement in the 1990s. Hard Line presents in a readable fashion the perspectives of all the groups directly affected -- from Border Patrol officers to migrants to ranchers in southern Arizona -- by Operation Gatekeeper and the varous other military-style operations designed to reduce illegal immigration from Mexico. Among other things, we learn that the expendiuture of billions of dollars has not resulted in a reduction in immigration but simply directed migrant traffic through dangerous and inclement conditions where many migrants suffer gruesome deaths as a result of the simple pursuit of the American dream.
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on July 26, 2005
The most thorough and unbiased study of the US/Mexico border issues I have read. Ken Ellingwood recreates the history as well as the projections for this controversial problem. He permits readers to view all aspects of the issue and to develop a thoughtful awareness of their own personal opinion based on fact, not conjecture or propaganda.
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on August 29, 2012
The book was purchased for a grad class. The book is very easy to read and even though, at the begining the details are drawn way out to generate a picture to be seen of the conditions. In furthering chapters the details are reeled back in and positions are made. To show comparisons of residents and immigrants from the earlier part of the 1800's and the relationships of the world wars that generated a need for low cost labor positions to be filled. To a few drastic actions that were taken by administrations to stop or facilitate the immigrants that would like to be citizens. It also introduced the loss of life and a few instances of the need to have someone to point a finger at, for their troubles.
The book touched the ideas and motives that still are misunderstood not only in the United States but also Mexico presently. It is worth reading if you are interested in this subject matter. You will catch yourself comparing your own motivations and the immigrants'/residents outcomes as you read through it.
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on November 8, 2009
A highly recommended read for those interested in what is happening along our southern borders.
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on July 17, 2004
While there is some good (but all too brief) information presented in this book about the U.S.-Mexican border (including some interesting history of the region) and the results of the government's implementation of Operation Gatekeeper, it is mostly an account of how left-wing Americans have reacted to the border and to the operation. Overall, I found the book to be biased toward a very liberal point of view. The lefties who break the law and stoop to immigrant smuggling are portrayed in a very sympathetic light (and their party affiliations go unnoted), while the ranchers who round up immigrants on their property at gun point (possibly also breaking the law) are portrayed as overzealous, bug-eyed gun nuts (and invariably described as Republicans).
Much better (and more objective) books to read regarding this fascinating and important issue are Dead In Their Tracks, Coyotes, Crossing Over and Shadowed Lives.
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on August 10, 2013
Ken Ellingwood provides a balanced account on the hardships faced by immigrants trying to enter illegally into the US though its southern border. The book approaches the topic from several perspectives: the history of immigration through the southern border, the history of the institutions in charge of promoting (and later controlling) immigration, and through the personal stories of migrants, humanitarians, border patrol agents and government officials.

Ellingwood concentrates on the effects that operation Gatekeeper had in shifting the historical patterns of migration: from the urban crossings in California to the high risk environment of the Arizona desert. He describes in detail the impact not only on the migrant's loss of life, but on the economics, politics and even sleep patterns of the communities involved.

This is not an academic analysis of U.S. immigration policy. The author clearly states so himself. It nevertheless reads like a case study of System Dynamics and the unintended consequences of some public policies. Hard Line is investigative journalism at its purest, combining meticulous documentation with the human stories that bring the book alive.

Overall, a must read for anyone interested in understanding more about illegal immigration through the US-Mexico border.
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