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The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona-Mexico Borderlands Hardcover – February 1, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Regan, a Tucson journalist, has compiled a compelling chronicle of the flow of migrants from northern Mexico into the “Tucson Sector” of Arizona, distilling the many facets of this phenomenon into an enlightening account. She focuses on one border crosser, 14-year-old Josseline Hernandez, who in January 2008, left with her younger brother in a group heading eventually to Los Angeles, where their mother was waiting. Ill from prolonged exposure, Josseline was left in the desert to die by her well-paid guide, or coyote. In exploring that death, and the nearly 1,600 other migrant deaths in the Arizona desert between 2001 and 2009, Regan interviews the Border Patrol, vigilantes, members of the human rights group No More Deaths, and Tohono O’odham tribal members, on whose land 83 bodies were found in 2007 alone. She also speaks with migrants, many of whom have tried multiple times to cross Arizona’s “killing field,” created when restrictions tightened around such border cities as El Paso. Regan doesn’t offer any solutions, but her brutally honest depiction should be read by those who will. --Deborah Donovan


The Death of Josseline is a humane, sensitive, and informative perspective on a current and controversial topic. It also testifies to the fastest growing international criminal activity today: body trafficking. We all must pay attention.—Ana Castillo, author of The Guardians

"This book should be required reading for everyone—from President Obama and the director of Homeland Security to the Border Patrol agents, the vigilantes, and migrant rights activists. If people on both sides of the immigration issue picked up this book instead of arms, we would come to a peaceful resolution; it gave me inspiration."—Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street

"In The Death of Josseline, Margaret Regan stands midpoint between immigration's push and pull . . . her clear and sympathetic eyes watching the south on its treacherous slog north."—Tom Miller, author of The Panama Hat Trail

"Most border 'experts' and immigration writers are mere tourists. This writer is not one of them. In Margaret Regan's The Death of Josseline, you have a writer who lives the story, reports from the heart of the killzone, and works the territory on a regular basis. The many admirers of Enrique's Journey will find much to admire, and fear, in this powerful report."—Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Devil’s Highway

"There may be no better way to understand the muddle that is U.S. immigration policy than by reading these portraits of people who cross the border in hopes of a better life. . . . The Death of Josseline is an excellent way to understand-on a human level-the ebb and flow of human labor across political boundaries."—Ted Robbins, Southwest Correspondent, National Public Radio

"The Death of Josseline is a border reality check. It tells searing stories of those who've died crossing the Sonora/Arizona desert, of young people sent to prison in Tucson for the crime of working, and of the courageous people of conscience who stand up for the rights of migrants. Read it, and see why our deadly immigration policies need to be changed."—David Bacon, author of Illegal People

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (February 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807042277
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807042274
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.9 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,308,622 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Margaret Regan writes for the Tucson Weekly and has won a dozen journalism awards for border reporting, including two national prizes. Her newest book is Detained and Deported. She lives in Tucson.

Author photo credit Jay Rochlin.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Author Margaret Regan has reported on illegal immigration along the Arizona-Mexico border for almost ten years. Now, she presents her call for societal compassion in The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona-Mexico Borderlands. Arizona has the highest number of migrant deaths; literally thousands have perished in its deserts and mountains. Regan speaks for the "No More Deaths" advocates, while listening to the concerns of upset ranchers and vigilantes. The Death of Josseline offers a firsthand testimony of the pressures that compel people to risk their lives to illegally enter the United States, the environmental damage caused by the new border wall, and the increasing militarization of the border, including the involvement of private security forces such as Black Hawk. A keen-eyed perspective of how questionable public policy has resulted in far too much preventable loss of life, The Death of Josseline is highly recommended.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Peggy Rosenthal on March 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is the most important book I've read in years. Tucson reporter Margaret Regan pulls together her decade's experience of following what happens to Central American migrants who risk their lives to enter the U.S. in search of jobs to support their families back home, where economic opportunities have been ruined by NAFTA and CAFTA as well as by their own countries' inequities and corruption. Regan puts a human face on all who play roles in the current disastrous border dramas: migrants who die in the harsh Arizona desert, their companions who choose deportation in order to save others' lives, Border Patrol agents, people in the Mexican border towns who help migrants who have been deported, and residents along the U.S. side of the border (those who love the incredibly expensive and extensive border wall and those who hate it). This book is indispensable for anyone wanting to understand the human impact of U.S. border policy -- and that should be everyone in the U.S. It should be required reading for every congressperson in Washington as well as Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano and everyone in her ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) office.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Mark P. Sadler VINE VOICE on April 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
"She was a little girl with a big name, Josseline Jamileth Hernandez Quinteros." Thanks to Margaret Regan no one who reads `The Death of Josseline' will ever forget her.

Regan takes the tragic death of this fourteen year old undocumented migrant and weaves it though a series of chapters that deal with a variety of immigration border issues in Arizona. With the astute view point of a journalist, Regan takes several of her previously reported stories in the Tucson Weekly, and fleshes them out with her personal experiences traveling with both the Border Patrol and various activists to document the stories of the migrant, and today's current headlines. She allows us to see through the eyes of the traveler the reasons they risk their lives in the harsh Sonoran desert environment and brutal heat of the Arizona summer to reach the `promised land' in order to make a better life for themselves.

We hear from all the players in the cast from conservationists, activists, border agents, vigilantes, border land owners and the migrants themselves as Regan provides a cache all of comments. We get her unbiased view of the triple whammy: "habitat fragmentation, funneling of migrants, border enforcement" and see how we as a people have tied each others hands in a desperate fight to secure our borders to the South.

No matter you personal feelings in this ongoing trial by fire one thing stands out above all else. These migrants are human first and foremost and illegal as a secondary thought and do not deserve to die in their flight to freedom. Regan's portrayal is at once insightful and sympathetic in its telling; one that deserves to read by all humanity.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Pam Gosner on March 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's possible for those of us who live far from this country's southern border to remain ignorant of conditions there, but not after reading this book. Although Regan's sympathies are clearly with the people trying to enter the U.S. in search of a better life, just as her own family members did a couple of generations ago, her treatment of the topic is quite even-handed. She gives a clear picture of how NAFTA created more difficult conditions for the poor in the countries south of here, and how the new border "fence" has driven would-be migrants into the dangerous desert regions of southern Arizona, but she also writes about the problems of trash, the environmental impact of the migration routes, and the frustrations of those who try either to keep migrants out or to help them. The greatest strength of the book is the way she makes her subjects come to life, which reminded me of John McPhee's writing. (Full disclosure: Regan is married to my stepson).
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on September 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Wow. I don't think I will ever be able to forget this book. While I agree with another reviewer's comments that Regan's narrative moves around a lot and that can get confusing for the reader, overall the stories and facts presented in this book are so important to know. Every American should read this book. I could not put the book down. I found the book to be very fascinating and insightful, a must read.
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