Last Updated on August 15, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 210
Francisco Cantú is a third-generation Mexican American who decides to become a US Border Patrol officer in the hopes of truly understanding the border crisis in a way he cannot without being present there. He joins against his mother's warnings, believing that he will bring comfort to those who are detained because he speaks their language and shares their cultural roots. Cantú quits the Border Patrol after just four years to return to school and earn a graduate degree. His struggles with vivid nightmares and his heavy conscience in regards to many of the tactics used by Border Patrol officers contributes to his decision.
Cantú's mother, a former park ranger and the daughter of a Mexican immigrant, is the voice of wisdom that warns her son about joining a group that is lacking in empathy for people who are attempting to cross the border.
José, a maintenance worker and Mexican immigrant who has lived in the United States for thirty years, is friends with Cantú. In the third section of the book, Cantú fights to help José, who has become detained by the US Border Patrol as he attempts to reenter the United States after a trip to Mexico to visit his ailing mother.