Straddling an international border, the twin cities of Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonora, are in many ways one community. For years the border was less distinct, with Mexicans crossing one way to visit family and friends and tourists crossing the other to roam the curio shops. But as times change, so do places like Nogales. The maquiladora industry has brought jobs, population growth, and environmental degradation to the Mexican side. A crackdown against undocumented immigrants has brought hundreds of Border Patrol agents and a 14-foot-tall steel wall to the U.S. side. Drug smuggling has brought violence to both sides. Neither Nogales will ever be the same.
In Lives on the Line, Miriam Davidson tells five true stories from these border cities to show the real-life effects that the maquiladora boom and the law enforcement crackdown have had on the people of "Ambos (Both) Nogales." Readers will meet Yolanda Sánchez, a single mother who came to work in the factories; Jimmy Teyechea, a cancer victim who became an outspoken environmental activist; Dario Miranda Valenzuela, an undocumented immigrant who was shot and killed by a U.S. Border Patrol agent; Cristina, a "tunnel kid" who aspired to flee the gang lifestyle; and Hope Torres and Tom Higgins, maquiladora managers who have made unique contributions to the community.
In sharing these stories of people transformed by love and faith, by pain and loss, Davidson relates their experiences to larger issues and shows that, although life on the border is tough, it is not without hope. Lives on the Line is an impassioned look at the changes that have swept the U.S.-Mexico border: the rising tension concerning free trade and militarization, the growing disparity between the affluent and the impoverished. At the same time, the book highlights the positive aspects of change, revealing challenges and opportunities not only for the people who live on the border but for all Americans.