One of the best books I've read about the U.S.-Mexico border is Luis Alberto Urrea's "The Devil's Highway," which tells the story of a group of 26 Mexican migrants who became lost in the Arizona desert in May 2001, after being abandoned by their guide. Fourteen of them died. The tragedy was a precursor to what was to come, as for years afterward, human smuggling deaths along the border would skyrocket. More than 500 migrant deaths were reported in 2005.
Urrea, a former tijuanense, appeared as a guest last week on Moyers & Company, veteran journalist Bill Moyers' latest show with American Public Television. A great interview, Urrea talked about both his reported narratives and his more recent acclaimed novels, which have included the bittersweet "Into the Beautiful North" and two novels based on the true story of his great-aunt, "The Hummingbird's Daughter" and "Queen of America."
Hearing him talk about his reporting for "The Devils Highway" is fascinating. Urrea's research for the book led him to spend a good deal of time with Border Patrol agents, an experience that he talks about in this excerpt. Watch the entire interview here.