cover image 14 Miles: Building the Border Wall

14 Miles: Building the Border Wall

D.W. Gibson. Simon & Schuster, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-1-5011-8341-6

In this empathetic, voice-driven account, journalist Gibson (Not Working) reports from the U.S.-Mexico border between San Diego and Tijuana during the development and construction of a 14-mile stretch of President Trump’s border wall. Visiting the area between 2017 and 2019, Gibson interviews people living on both sides of the border, including Aurelia Avila, a young Mexican-American woman who collects recyclables in Tijuana; Civile Ephedouard, a Haitian refugee seeking asylum in San Diego; and Lance LeNoir, a member of the San Diego Sector Confined Space Entry Team, who patrols subterranean passageways between the U.S and Mexico. Their overlapping perspectives set the book apart from more didactic, issue-driven accounts. Gibson quotes an ICE special agent who asks “how many people is our infrastructure designed to take?” and relates the story of a retired Methodist minister and aid worker whose neighbor once said that the value of her home was more important than the value of a refugee’s life. More philosophical meditation on the meaning and function of a border than hard-hitting exposé, Gibson’s multifaceted portrait makes a meaningful contribution to the question of what a humane and sensible immigration policy would look like. Readers will be left with a lot to ponder. Agent: Chris Parris-Lamb, the Gernert Agency. (July)