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How the US Exported Its Border Around the World

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The border, in the abstract, can seem like a simple, objective thing, just a line on a map that gives a country its shape. And because securing and enforcing that line—what people call border security—can seem just as obvious and self-evident, people of very different political stripes can find themselves taking the border for granted, as something natural and normal and given.

Journalist Todd Miller’s Empire of Borders is about how dramatically and completely this easy simplicity can mislead us about what the border really is, where it is, and where it is going. Borders aren’t just there. Not only were they made (often arbitrarily and with great cruelty and violence), but the US border, in particular, extends far beyond the frontier line that separates one country from another, even far beyond the 100-mile range that Homeland Security considers the border zone. The US border is a massive global apparatus, an interconnected network of partnerships, funding, multinational industries, and international agreements, stretching across every continent and saturating the world. Most important, it’s still growing. With a climate-changed future on the horizon—and the prospect of climate refugees from around the globe growing exponentially—walls and fences and towers are proliferating, as the global border security industrial complex accelerates its efforts. From his home in Arizona, Miller tracks the border from Guatemala and Honduras to the Caribbean, Israel, the Philippines, and Kenya, interviewing subjects on every side of that multidimensional line.

I recently spoke with Miller about tracking the border and reporting on it. Our conversation has been edited for style and content.

—Aaron Bady

Aaron Bady: How did you start working on this topic?

Todd Miller: The idea first occurred to me in 2012, when I was on the west coast of Puerto Rico, on a research trip for my book Border Patrol Nation. I saw the same green-striped Border Patrol vehicles roving the west coast as in southern Arizona, where I live. When I learned that Border Patrol could legally operate only 30 miles away from the Dominican coast—since the Mona Island was a US territory—I thought, “Wow, this thing, the border, is so much more extensive than I realized.” Mind you, this was all happening a thousand miles from the US mainland. Then, when I went to the Dominican Republic to investigate US funding and training of the DR’s border patrol, for the border with Haiti, I really began to see the multiple, widespread, programs that were, as officials would say, pushing out the border.





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Thanks !

Thanks for sharing this, you are awesome !