tv Discussion on U.S.- Mexico Border CSPAN April 14, 2018 12:00pm-1:07pm EDT
[inaudible conversations] >> good morning. [speaking in spanish] >> hello. i'm sorry, i'm not trying to be rude to you. i'm trying to get the microphone to work. i already said -- what's wrong with this guy? [laughter] >> maybe this one is the lucky one. [speaking in spanish] >> it's working, fantastic. there it goes. that sounds so much better. well, i always like to start saying that i do have an accent when i speak but i try not to have an accent when i think. i think we will have a very good day this morning. welcome to the sixth annual san antonio book festival. can you believe it's been 6
years. i'm most certain that you will truly enjoy the panel this morning. full house, let's make something clear. it would not be because of the moderator but because of the presence of two great authors and friends that are here today for a conversation about the dispatchespatches from the bord, human face of immigration. francisco cantú, stephanie, i had the privilege to moderate a book presentation of hers september 6th, we will talk a little more about that. before i introduced our steam panel, allow me to give a few house-keeping items out of the way so i can earn my water this morning. so, welcome, welcome, welcome, sixth annual event. fantastic, this festival continues to grow. glad to do seeing this resurgence of cultural and literary events in the city, by
the way, we are celebrating 300th anniversary this year. it's a fantastic time to be in san antonio. we need to thank the central library as well as the southwest school of art for opening their campus, their doors to host nearly 100 authors from across the country around the world representing topics all in one day. so i'm hoping that you will be staying here for the entire day. so while the festival continues to attract more and more people as you can see by your surroundings, i need a request from you, we need your help to make the city and the world aware of this festival and as such, if you're going to be using social media, please use the #which is sa book fest. sa stands for san antonio. sa book fest, that way everybody is going to know what's going on and they'll say, i'm going to
get there later today or make sure that i do not miss it next year. i also want to inform you that boast -- both of our authors say, let's open it up for question, let's allow 10 to 15 minutes at the end so we can interact with you and while we will have that, we have also the great benefit of having c-span in the house and as every year, they are here to record conversations that are then recorded and as such we are going to need for those questions to be heard, so bear with me, we will be taking questions from you, the audience. i will point towards the person that's going to be assisting us, the motorcycle phone -- microphone will come to you so everybody in the world, c-span will be able to hear your questions. of course, please silence the
phones just like in the movies. you can either complete turn it off or turn it on silent and help us to truly go quickly and promptly. last but not least, we are here to support authors and we are here to support reading and we have a fantastic tent by barnes & noble outside. as soon as the session is over, i know you will want to come to talk to authors, we will be escorting them promptly where they will be able to sign or purchase books. i'm actually going to buy several copies as i did last time so i can say to my friend, francisco, stephanie, can you please sign it for my friend, family, daughter and i hope that you will do the same. needless to say, when you purchase a book here today, a portion of the proceeds of the book festival will benefit the san antonio public foundation that puts this together.
please do so and with that, let's give a round of applause to our authors, we are going to have a great, great set. [applause] >> of 30 minutes. let me begin, first, with my friend stephanie elizondo, she's the author of award-winning memoirs around the block and mexican enough. assistant professor to north carolina chapel hill, she has lectured all across the world including as u.s. state department literary ambassador to venezuela in 2015, but you also spent quite a time in russia and in other parts of the world. but with your permission, stephanie, we are so glad to have you here because on september 6th, 20 days later you were diagnosed and we knew that you were going to beat it, we are so glad that you're here because now we have many, many years of your writing, so thank you. [cheers and applause]
>> and francisco, it was endeering the moment when you were going to be the three of us, i'm so glad stephanie, you're coming because i believe that there was one event that had to be postponed, not canceled, postponed and it will happen and glad that we get to host the two of you for the first time together. francisco served as an agent for the united states border patrol in the deserts of arizona and mornings with new mexico and texas. he's recipient of 2017 -- i'm going to see if i pronounce it right, whiting award. i would like to ask, it's a very important award that he received that in translations have been featured in this american life, the best american essays, harpers, many plus 1, and the line becomes a river was published in february 2018 and
by the looks of and the praise that is you received from sandra cisneros, alberto rea, pretty exciting and looking forward to have this conversation. let's get a little comfortable here so we don't feel like, it's cozy small but we will make the best with what we can. stephanie, let's start with you, it's been a long past six months. before we start talking about, you know, all the agents and saints and everything else, the whole concept of environmental racism and things as such, how has what you've gone through brought that to light and what has happened since -- we saw each other six months ago. [laughter] >> it's not the right way to do that. >> she's obviously very strong.
[laughter] >> chemo does things to you. yes, so, thank you, raúl. the greatest moderator i have worked with my entire career. it's a treat to be with you again and a treat to be with you, francisco. a lot has happened since i was here. actually maybe two weeks after my event, my last event at san antonio public library, i started getting some kind of odd indigestion and somehowly ovary to a baseball. it was hard to receive diagnosis after spending ten years of my life writing and recording instances of horrific environmental injustice, not only in south texas so in my book all the agents start in
south texas, 15-miles from petro chemical industries and people of color that life close and highlanders rates of unexplained of birth defects, asthma. the second part of my book is nation, the u.s.-canada borderline and surrounded by three super fun sites, alcoa, gm and raynolds, so they also have incredibly high rates of unexplained cancers and you actually can see and many mohawks you can see in face and
so coming into this diagnosis was quite a shock but then it sort of made this sort of existential sense that can be interpreted in several ways. first, just simply i did grew up in a community that is polluted. but also just what is the sort of toll as writing these stories, telling these stories, i don't have any other way to explain getting ovarian cancer when i have zero risk factor, i was geneticically tested and i'm lucky to tell the tale. i was last week meeting with chiefs and sharing books with them and they -- they had a death of a young woman died of cancer the day before i arrived.
this is a small community so i can talk about this but i think that's a start, thank you. >> well, thank you, stephanie, for sharing that and we do look forward to continuing this conversation and -- and thank you, francisco, very handy man. i was going to do it but you beat me to it. he knows what he is doing. >> like a macho show. >> that's right. [laughter] >> but i was talking -- i got to meet francisco just a few minutes ago and i had to tell him as i was reading his book and i love to read books nonstop without putting them down, i had to not because it wasn't good but it was so powerful that as you're reading it the story that is he share that conflict that we all possess when we know we are doing the right thing but may be perceived differently but perhaps what i got the most out of the book is your
conversations with your mother and if you wouldn't mind, if i could ask you to begin this by -- by reading and i took the liberty of highlighting and you, of course, can read more or less from the highlighted component to set us into this journey that will be having yourself, stephanie and myself over the next 30 minutes. >> sure. and i guess as a preface to reading this section, you know, i joined the border patrol at -- i made the decision to join border patrol when i was 22 year's old. i was graduating from college. i had left arizona where i grew up to study international relations in washington, d.c. and -- and i studied immigration and border issues and i felt that there was a big disconnect from the book learning that i had tone in college and the, you know, what i knew from growing up with my mother in the southwest and growing up close to the landscape and growing up
close to the culture. and so i made the decision to join the border patrol because of the time i thought it would be this way of getting answers. i thought it would be a way of seeing what happens on the ground, sort of day in and day out, and i was hyperobsessed with the physical line and the sand. and, of course, my mother was terrified. so this is me and i guess i should say, it wasn't just that my mother was terrified for my safety as i think any mother would be because -- because it's a law enforcement job and there's danger in that. i think she was even more concerned with the health of my spirit and -- and what this job would ask me to do and participate in and i think she was afraid of the way that i would become numb to violence, broadly speaking. so this is me as 23-year-old
trying to justify my decision to my mom. listen, i know you don't want your only son turning into a heartless cop, i know you're afraid the job will turn me into someone brutal and probably those people imagine white racists out to kill and kill mexicans, but that's not me and those aren't the people that i see at the academy. nearly half of my classmates are hispanic, some of them grew up speaking spanish, some grew up right on the border, some went to college like me, some went to war, some own businesses, some work dead-end jobs, some fresh out of high school, some are fathers and mothers with their own children. these people aren't joining the border patrol to oppress others but joining it because it's an opportunity for service, stability, financial security. my mother interrupted me, but you could work anywhere you want
she said, you graduated with honors. i should preface or i should add that -- that, you know, my mom was kind of right in the end. [laughter] >> i would probably -- if i was having that discussion with myself or with my own child, i would probably say all the same things that my mom said to me, to me then. so i don't necessarily standby my defense is what -- [laughter] >> what captured me from that component is that when you write saying at least if i'm the one apprehending them, i can offer them comfort by speaking to them in their language, talking to them with knowledge of their home. that's something that is consistently in your book, is that respect that so many times is what we are trying to find.
you went immediately into the border, you we wanted to reconnect and understand, but you, stephanie, before diving into -- into the border lands, you first went all over the world. >> yes. >> that's actually different from what francisco did, can you tell us a little bit about what did you find when you traveled not only venezuela but méxico and russia. >> as i traveled, basically i spent -- i spent most of my 20's working as a travel writer/correspondent. i lived in moscow and beijing. i wanted to understand the legacy of communism on the youth. i also felt that i had kind of an interesting understanding of communism in that my family work in unions on the king ranch of south texas and that sort of run
is medieval where there was the mighty patron and if you did your work you would get protection, that was the case for over 100. my family was happy working on the king ranch but in late 1980's they modernized and a lot cowboys were let go. so that was a strange connection that i had meeting modern-day, what it was like with the ideology, the safety net, social safety net to suddenly be ripped from them. so, yes, but what i discovered in all of this travels, i kept on continuously hearing the very same story. in lithuania i met person in prison being tortured because he refused to renounce judaism and kept images beneath the floor
boards. i continuously encountered people living in totalitarian regimes or post totalitarian regimes who is refuse today follow the status quo. they refused to only speak russian or only -- to alleviate their entire religion. they continued to celebrate their own natives and indigenous cultures. i realized that i had abappedonned my -- abandoned my own and didn't learn spanish. i would never ever compare what happened in the united states to what happened in soviet union. those are very different, but at the end of the day, i know a lot of tejanos in the room that spanish was systemically, a systematic attempt to eliminate spanish, right, a lot of you were punished for speaking span niche the classroom.
lots of mexican children in 50's or 60's mouthwashed with soap and school districts in the 50's had a policy that all mexican-american kids had to take first grade three times, beginners first grade, high first grade, the kids didn't graduate till they were 20 if they graduated at all. it didn't so far away than what i was experiencing. >> and i've always like to say that being latino is a state of mind, we come in all shapes and colors and ideologies, but being out in the field i could see on the book that your book speaks spanish bridge the gap with some of the immigrants crossing. as we have seen over the last week there's conversation of militarization of the border.
i would like to hear both of your -- your points of view, you lived through it, today the border is a little different from 2012, there's been a few years, in some senses it's not. what is your take, francisco, about the conversations of military sites, milt -- >> i actually think and people in the room may agree or disagree but i actually think that the fact that the nation has sort of hyperfocused on the border right now sort of distracts from the fact that none of the things that we are talking about are knew and most of what we are seeing right now has been going on for a long time but maybe more in the open and more newspapers are reporting about it and nor journalists are coming here. i've actually been surprised how
close the debate that we are having right now is to the debate i remember happening at national level when i was in college from like 2004 to 208 and i remember in 2005-2006, that's when we had the minute men and all the representatives yelling about building a wall and everyone seems to have forgotten that we passed a build the wall bill called secure fences act in 2005, we have since constructed more than 700 miles of fencing and barriers along our southern border, so when people clamber for a wall, well, i kind of already have one. [laughter] >> and, of course, during that time the national guard was sent by president george w. bush as well. so this -- this isn't new and -- and another thing is that, you
know, we are giving the same solutions right now, we are hearing the same solutions from our policymakers, right, build more fences, hire more border patrol agents, send national guard and we know what happens, we know what happens when -- when we do that because we've done it before and what happens is that, i mean, this is classic enforcement deterrence which has been the sort of defacto border policy in the country since 90's, you secure the cities and easy-to-cross areas. you drive up the price of human smuggling which puts them at greater risk for violence because drug cartels step in to make that money. and then you have them being pushed out into the more dangerous parts of the border, last year how many times did you hear that border crossings went down, now it's at it's lowest in
40 years but the number of deaths in southern border actually increased last year, even though less people are crossing the -- the crossing is becoming more dangerous. now to do this all of this again and to expect different results is quite literally the definition of insanity. >> yes. but in your book to not lift the threat, francisco, you came with the knowledge to the border patrol and you were constantly sharing that knowledge with -- with your peers. is there a reason why or how come this sensibility, training or history, not share with colleagues to -- to make it more relevant as to why they're having to pursue these issues, you said it right, they are fortified the cities entrance which make it far more difficult to cross leading to more
treacherous paths and more deaths in the border. >> i mean, what is so terrifying about all of this is that even coming to the border patrol with all these questions, looking for answers, having sort of big picture understanding from college, what's terrifying is how -- how quickly i set all of that aside in order to -- to get through border patrol training and to get through the sort of day-to-day, wake up every day and go back to work and i think that's why one of the central questions of this book is, you know, what is the power of an institution to sort of normalize violence and so i'm looking at that at an individual level, you you know, how did i set aside all the questions and slowly begin to participate in this, you know, in perpetuating the same things that -- that, you know, i was interested in
learning about in order to, you know, change or make better and then, you know, the other question is to what extent can we separate ourselves from anstitution that we participate in and, you know, being a very idealistic, going to help in that change and imagined myself as a sort of monolithic, having the monolithic sense of ethics and morality that i wouldn't participate in the bat bits and observe and, you know, not be a participant but, of course, when you put on a uniform every day, you are -- you are participating, you are that institution, you're embodying it and so i think -- you know, to -- but on a larger level when i started writing the book and obviously, you know, your tasks is a writer is not just be preoccupied with your own
journey as an narrater, i became interested in all the way that is we normalize violence, i think, as -- as a population or as a society at large and i think this happens especially in the border region and it happens, you know, we normalize violence, violence is being normalized for us by daily news of violence along the border, the border is being represented as a landscape of violence constantly to outsiders and the people who live here and to what extent do we become numb to that and -- and i think it's important because that's happening now more than ever, you know, when donald trump says that you can build a wall across the landscape or that you can just send -- that we need to send the military here because it's out of control even though there are less people crossing than ever before, what he's really saying is this is violent
disposable landscape and i think that is what a lot of people think of when they think of the border lands and it's up to us to be vocal and push back against that. >> and on that, stephanie, so you can continue with the same threat of the reports to have desire to milt -- if i could ask you to read the highlighted text in your book and just like francisco, feel free to read more than what's highlight sod we can put in context both by national identity of the border. >> okay, most tejanos object obstructions on roadways. many of these view the wall, not as a safeguard to home last security but as yet another threat to our once thriving
binational community. a little later down, so this is a section where -- this is my intro. a nas talgic among us, us meaning tejanos feel that the only place to grab for heritage in méxico even though we no longer have family there, having been treated by outsiders by whites or as traders by mexican nationals we had a desire to know what inside us is mexican, what is gringo and our ancestors viewed the two. our communities had endured the same struggles, they shared similar methods as well. so basically this book is showing -- i spent seven years
writing the south texas section of this book, and that's -- that was originally what the book was going to be, a book about life in south texas from 2007 to 2011 or so. but then i happened to get a job which i hadn't had in a long time, a job teaching at st. lawrence university, very close to the canadian border and i just, you know, i applied thinking, anyway, i arrived -- [laughter] .. .. it was exciting to me, an hours drive away. i didn't have the fortune to be in close proximity to a nation.
so i arise and it was déjà vu. every story i'm countered in 12 years, and exact mohawk replica of this particular activist in this particular artist, it was amazing and profoundly disturbing. it began to make me realize i was onto something, this is something we are doing to marginalize populations, violent disposable landscape is where we are conceiving of our borderland region. >> so many facets and you will have an opportunity to purchase your copies. i don't see it as commercials, i see it as a need to educate
ourselves. the more we read i was also telling stephanie when i found out, i got to reread it. and make sure the book we really like. and twice a year, the environment changes. talking about changing environments. you went from being out in the field, your intellect, your background, your college degree, on the detail side, something you struggled with but also you have impact with what is going on, can you explain how that process went
for you? >> i spent two years in the field, regular field agent, all the things you imagine a border patrol agent doing, driving down a lot of dirt roads looking at the dirt for footprints, and the reason you mentioned these encounters as standing out to you, the reason the book involves those encounters is because that is what i carry the most with me. they are action-packed, adrenaline filled moments, really faded away, very quickly, after they happened. these encounters and conversations with people crossing the border always
stayed with me and i would write down a lot of this, the first part of the book deals with that, comes from the journal i kept at the time. and i have, i wrote with this sort of urgency. i felt if i didn't write those encounters down, they would be gone. if i didn't i would wake up the next and something else crazy would happen and it would block out the other things and there is so much i didn't write down and i never really revisited them until year after i left the border patrol and to get to your question i moved, took an intelligence position in tucson and later in el paso and all of a sudden i was out of the field and no longer having encounters with the actual people on the
border. it became jarring to me how detached i was again from the reality of what happens out there but no longer ignorant to them. and the other thing is i lived in mexico for half a year, that was before the philip calderon years and the violence was so precedent. i was there during the election in 2006. the other interesting thing about the intelligence job was i was inundated with images of violence and one thing i always remembered from my time in el paso is one morning on the street corner there was the daily papers like the national esq. except instead of celebrity gossip, violent
imagery of cartel shootings and the pictures are very grisly and those were the same kind of pictures i was looking at, looking at these daily briefs of all the shootings that happened, cartel violence happened on the border. to make a long story short, i was thinking about what it means desaturated by news of violence, i moved to el paso, studied in college, and in el paso, a mythic place i haven't read so much about. i thought less than when i lived in el paso.
in those years, eight murders of a and pretty consistently, the safest city in the united states, and living in that where you are driving on the freeway looking out at the mountains, [speaking spanish] >> constantly reminded of the fact that all those realities are next to you, never seemed more distant and that is central to living in the borderland, having a position of privilege as americans, wherever we are, i think that we are encouraged to do that,
we are encouraged not to cross the board or. crossing the line, that is only perpetuating -- >> that takes us to the last topic before we turn it over to questions, we understand that issues better than most around the country, touring the country because you are crisscrossing all over. does the narrative of the presentation on your books change? and how so? have you experienced that? what have you found as you engage with different communities, to know what they do? >> north carolina, at unc
chapel hill, i did some events where these are very -- due to the universities, not unc but other universities in north carolina where people are literally not aware we have a border wall and it is inconceivable to me. when trump talks about a wall, we should have - they don't know the we have 670 miles already, which is wild. that is one extreme versus last week, i had the incredible privilege of going and presenting the book to the chief which was the great honor of my life. that was amazing. i had to do no preface. i had to tiptoe into it. this is what we are dealing with and i could go into it, that was amazing. such extremes everywhere i go. >> one thing that has been
interesting, an event in the borderland, san diego and tucson, people come with their own stories and their own experiences like i know you have them. when you are in boston, massachusetts, portland, oregon, or something like that, people coming to reading, the border is a landscape that they are familiar with through news and film representations. and it is sort of like one of the few landscapes we still tolerate like a wild west cartoonish representation and a lot of people, it seems like a very distant thing. what is alarming about that, if
those people are quite often the ones dictating our rhetoric and policy like loading for a lot of politicians sitting border policy and a lot of politicians that have allowed us voices about what happens here are the people with the furthest distance from it in the least amount of connection to it. another thing, i don't know. we will get to it in question time. a question - >> much more information, speaking about this last comment, what is the.to the audience as you are going around, the entire golf course is a must read and i do hope you get the opportunity to purchase it, get it signed and hopefully get your email to send questions you may not want
to ask today. i see the microphone over there. what we are doing is taking 3 at a time, but we will be answering one at a time. to let you know who is in the queue. it can move much easier that way. one question, the gentleman in the center and go to the very back, number 2 and then number 3 right next to you. we start with number one in the front. i will give you number 4. at the very back, number 2, back to number 3 and number 4 will be the gentleman on the right. state your name as well. >> i live in san antonio and i want to thank the panel for
being here today. it is very informative and i look forward to reading the books. my question has to do with the idea that the physical barrier, any additional structures that we build is stopping migrants from entering the country. we had a terrible incident last year, where the tractor-trailer was opened and it was full of migrants and many of them in severe health conditions and you have air, sea, so how does that idea that this wall is a physical barrier that stops all illegal immigration compared to the reality of all the other ways illegal immigration occurs? >> would you like to tackle
that? >> as a border patrol agent i can say in the area where i worked, where this act was passed, what i can tell you is people found every way through, over and around that fence. smugglers figured out ways to pry open steel panels from the ground and put hydraulic jacks underneath and lift them high enough that entire vehicles could drive underneath and for smaller things like a group of people, they would just use a welder to make an opening and push it out and come through. i don't think that is an argument for bigger, stronger, more impenetrable barrier. it shows no matter what barrier we put there, people will find
a way around it and what we have seen especially with the deaths on the border which are underreported, there is a humanitarian crisis unfolding for decades ever since we started building walls and fencing. hundreds of people die every year in the desert, 6000 people have died according to a tally from 2000 to 2016 and those are just the ones that get reported, the ones that are found. we see that no matter how hellacious we make that crossing, that's what politicians are talking about doing. what we are doing is trying to make this a more hellacious crossing and no matter how hellacious the crossing becomes we see that people will under that to get to the other side of their separated from family members, between certain death and places where they come from. another thing more specifically
to your question is if you actually do a calculation of the actual land, border of the united states including the coast, including canada, alaska, all of that, the us border, 2% of the actual territory that borders our nation, there are sea crossings and their crossings. it is a fools errand. of the border wall is built, mark my words, the most memorable thing that will happen to it as it will be torn down and we will celebrate that someday. [applause] >> the moderator - >> i want to say i am interested in hearing stephanie answer that question related to
the canadian border. >> this will say it all. this assignment used to hang beside me. a visitor to our community under the jurisdiction of the following, canada, united states, the mohawk tribal council, new york, ontario, québec, franklin county, st. lawrence county, new york state police, québec police force, ontario provincial police, the federal bureau of investigation, us border patrol, u.s. customs and the national guard. drive carefully, have a nice day. that is controlling 13,000 people in 26,000 acres. >> i hope you helped me convince -- this book is also in audio but not with her voice. you got to be kidding me.
you have a beautiful voice. because she obviously wrote that she feels it. reconsider your next book. audiobook with your voice, nobody else. second question to the right. >> thank you very much. my name is - my name is sylvester. i grew up in the rio grande valley, very familiar and i'm old enough to remember the dragnet's of operation went back. i am familiar with it but your book was very heart wrenching. many difficult passages, had to put it down for a while because of how difficult it was.
one of the most difficult things and maybe i got it wrong in the midst of the emotion and everything was the policy of emptying the water bottles so people already going to die for their attempt to cross and find a road where they can get picked up and rescued by the border patrol. it was an exit stencil, heartbreaking, the issue of emptying the water bottles because you think they are going to find help sooner, was difficult to stomach. i almost stopped reading the book, if i got that correct or did i misread it? >> you have the correct. thank you for your question
because i think this is one of the most important things to talk about and to hold the border patrol accountable for. what the gentleman is referring to is, when i was sort of, when we enter the field and being given field training, we were unofficially told, and encouraged to destroy the belongings of the people who scattered into the desert or who we found and these scenes in the book he is referring to where border patrol agents are like stepping on people's food and strewing their clothing all around and this was the moment for me when it is like you are hanging back and watching and you think that -- you go home
and i am putting on the same uniform and more recently we have seen video footage of this. two or three months ago, no more deaths, released a video of border agents dumping out water left by humanitarian aid groups. just so everybody is on the same page these humanitarian aid groups are going and putting water out in the most dangerous parts of the desert and what these groups are doing is attempting to fill this deadly void that i alluded to earlier that was left by this policy of enforcement and putting out lifesaving aid. i think for border patrol to destroy that aid is unforgivable and unacceptable and what we saw that video release is people were outraged and border patrol was quick to
say this is not border patrol agency, they were violating policy but i'm here to tell you it doesn't matter what is on the books. it is the culture of the institution. where i work the culture of the institution, a culture of destruction and there is a wild west mentality that pervades to this day in the border patrol. those are the roots of the border patrol, element days there was less accountability, it was passed on and passed on. and to do humanitarian work, it happens with border patrol. you have to sustain the outrage
when these videos are released because the only way the culture is going to change, we remain outraged and call for a change in that culture. a bank of videos -- >> very good question. i read that segment too and had difficulty going through it and then i saw your writing in terms of recurring nightmares, out of stress that you weren't aware of, what that is creating for the personnel is an issue that needs, who better than yourself to advocate. listen to the next two questions, that way we can
answer them. you will be able to get your book signing and ask the question you might not have been able to do. >> audiobooks - >> the question we are answering is why it is she is not using her own voice and the fourth question. >> i grew up in the area of south texas, i had the pleasure and misfortune to visit and unaccompanied minor detention center. have either of you visited detention centers and can you talk about that? my experience, it was a surreal
dystopian experience for me and i don't think anybody understands what those are like. >> answer the first part of the last question and discuss the same issue with that question. >> i can quickly answer the question. the audiobook because they asked me if i wanted to and i said yes. so they let me is the only reason. about detention centers, this is the issue we need to read about and think about. i have not been to the juvenile detention centers. i have been to the adult detention centers. the detention centers i visited are run by private corporations that are contracted by the government, getting paid something like $400 a day per bed whether or not that that is filled. there is an incentive to fill
those beds by the government because they already paid for that. the thing about these detention centers, when people are sent to these detention centers, immigration court is not -- is a civil court, not a criminal court. there is often a criminal proceeding where migrants are sent to serve time but there immigration cases are decided much later. many times you have people who have no idea how long they are going to be in prison so it is a cost ask situation where people are detained, don't even know when their court date is or it keeps getting pushed back because courts are inundated with these cases. no one comes to see people in immigration detention because their families are far away if there even in this country. you don't get to make calls internationally in immigration
detention centers. it is an awful situation where people are being driven crazy, being made, what would you do if for months on end were in detention? >> i did not, i have not visited any of these detention centers and i would refer everyone to the texas server who has done an outstanding job writing about these issues. some amazing reporting on this issue. i will leave it to those who have been there to answer the question which is important. didn't maria hinojosa do a whole nightline? she did do an hour-long presentation, documentary about a detention center, really
tremendous. just depends, your situation is a publisher. and in charleston, and very sad i wasn't able to read it and an incredible actress did do the reading. >> now that you are on the mosque, people will be begging you to read the report. >> can you have a microphone? we have a microphone over here, we will do that. right here in the front.
>> we are from laredo and then went to del rio. we have been on the border all this time. my question, i haven't seen these cases going on and a lot of people suffering because they come to the united states thinking everything is going to be real easy for them to get a job, or do these things they come to the united states for but they don't understand and i would like to know why don't they educate people what they are coming files to? >> just because we are running out of time, how come countries are not doing a better job informing their communities what they are coming to? >> my answer would be i wish people would ask people like you was we can do about border policy? that is a much better idea than spending money on a border
wall. after world war 2 the united states spends how many billions of dollars on the marshall plan. they made a significant investment because we thought it would behoove us to have security in this nation on the other side of the ocean but we are unwilling to do the same thing with our closest neighbor and investing in education and jobs in mexico sounds better than building a wall. >> one minutes so that i can provide each of you one minutes for closing remarks. it is important we end with your thoughts. i will do that by reading two short paragraphs of each of their books. i will start with you, stephanie. page 25, rice and beans, goals
for the upcoming year, he was a septic tank, fire hydrant, or creeks tested for toxicity and community centers from which to better organize constituencies and a squadron. a lot of people. we will need carpenters, nutritions, plumbers, toxicologists but will do that work for free? this is the key difference about writing about a far-flung community. a hammer gets increasingly hard to justify at various points. i have vowed to stop trying to change them. those are the only tools i know how to use. wars are powerful tools. i want you to do it for all of us. so more people can understand what is going on on the border.
>>. difficult for me, how difficult, a man took a moment to look at me in the light, you can drive us to the border and just leave us there. she turned her head beyond the church, have to bring you in. took a deep breath and nodded and climbing to the back of the transport van to help his pregnant wife. what are your names, i asked a. the man looked at me strangely and glanced at his wife, they took turns introducing themselves. i told them my name. they replied with polite smiles.
later that night as i sat listening to calls come over the radio i this is a personal topic for the 3 of us. with that, some remarks. >> the one thing i want to say in hearing people talk about this book, you show so much emphasis he. for the people crossing the line and to be quite honest with all of you, that makes me
feel uncomfortable because feeling empathy for someone's situation or compassion only goes so far. the passage you read from stephanie's book alludes to and what is so important, when we are moved to empathy or compassion we think about not putting that book down and picking up the next one and feeling good about ourselves but feeling compassionate is something we do to feel good about ourselves. but i think translating that into action is important and not just donating to the many groups doing advocacy work and humanitarian work and activism but investing in san antonio, investing in your communities, whether you know undocumented people or think you don't you probably do, listen to those
people's stories, listening is one of the first and most important things we can do. to wield our privilege, to wield it like a baseball bat, raul is part of this organization. look into organizations like that but also to bail somebody out of immigration detention or crowd fund for somebody to help them pay for an immigration lawyer, the more personal you can make it the better. >> it is all about evaluating your skill, your passion, and applying that to our justice. my niece is a drummer. she can go out and drum for humanity. whatever it is you love, whatever talent you can bring
to this equation, all hands on deck, we need the poets, the engineers, we need everyone in this room and apply whatever school you have, everything you would love to do, to get somewhere. >> please buy the book, get it signed and see you next year. [inaudible conversations] >> next up from the 6 annual san antonio book festival, water supply issues in texas.