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Last Updated on June 25, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 287

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The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border is a memoir by Francisco Cantú in which he details his experience of joining the US Border Patrol in hopes of forming a firsthand understanding of the border. Cantú is a Mexican American and the grandson of a Mexican immigrant. His job requires him to go to remote and dangerous regions in order to catch and detain those trying to cross the border into America from Mexico, the very country his grandmother left to immigrate to America. The book is split into three parts. 

In the first part, Cantú details his training and his work as a field officer with the US border patrol. Cantú's job is to seize people who are trying to cross over from Mexico into America. He writes in detail of his experiences with the many migrants he takes into custody who simply want to escape the violence and criminality of the country. 

In the book’s second part, Cantú is no longer working out in the field but is working in an office collecting border intelligence. 

In part three, Cantú has left the Border Patrol and has returned to college for a graduate degree. He is friends with an immigrant named José, who went to Mexico to see his dying mother and became detained while returning to the United States, where he had been living for the previous thirty years.

Cantú confesses that the majority of the people that he detained as a Border Patrol officer were just people who were looking for a better life, and although he did come across criminals, they were not as plentiful as those hoping to escape poverty and crime in their countries.