Voices of the Border

Testimonios of Migration, Deportation, and Asylum

Tobin Hansen and María Engracia Robles Robles, ME, Editors
Foreword by Sean Carroll, SJ

"Voices of the Border witnesses immigration and its complications on the US-Mexico border in an emotional, unforgettable way."
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Powerful personal accounts from migrants crossing the US–Mexico border provide an understanding of their experiences, as well as the consequences of public policy

Migrants, refugees, and deportees live through harrowing situations, yet their personal stories are often ignored. While politicians and commentators mischaracterize and demonize, herald border crises, and speculate about who people are and how they live, the actual memories of migrants are rarely shared. In the tradition of oral storytelling, Voices of the Border reproduces the stories migrants have told, offering a window onto both individual and shared experiences of crossing the US–Mexico border.

This collection emerged from interviews conducted by the Kino Border Initiative (KBI), a Jesuit organization that provides humanitarian assistance and advocates for migrants. Based in Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonora—twin border cities connected by shared histories, geographies, economies, and cultures—the editors and their colleagues documented migrants’ testimonios to amplify their voices. These personal narratives of lived experiences, presented in the original Spanish with English translations, bring us closer to these individuals’ strength, love, and courage in the face of hardship and injustice. Short introductions written by migrant advocates, humanitarian workers, religious leaders, and scholars provide additional context at the beginning of each chapter.

These powerful stories help readers better understand migrants' experiences, as well as the consequences of public policy for their community.

Royalties from the sale of the book go to the Kino Border Initiative.

Table of Contents

Foreword, Sean Carroll, SJ

Preface, Tobin Hansen


1. Testimonios from Nogales, Tobin Hansen

2. Wealth Inequality and Migration, Introduced by Tobin Hansen

3. Violence and Maras, Introduced by Jorge A. Andrade Galindo

4. Gendered Violence, Introduced by Cecilia Guadalupe Espinosa Martínez

5. Separated from Family, Introduced by María Engracia Robles Robles, ME

6. Clandestine Border Crossings, Introduced by David Hill

7. Abuses by Government, Introduced by Joanna Williams

8. Mexico as the New Southern US Border, Introduced by Marla Conrad and Jorge A. Andrade Galindo

9. Deporting through Crime and Race, Introduced by Tobin Hansen

10. Deported from Home, Introduced by Tobin Hansen

11. Dismantling Access to Asylum, Introduced by Joanna Williams

12. Spiritual Life, Introduced by Samuel Lozano de los Santos, SJ

13. Valuing Voices, Tobin Hansen



List of Contributors



"There is a reason why Jesus taught in parables. Stories can move hearts in a way that arguments, definitions and statistics cannot. This remarkable new book of testimonies from migrants, along with commentary from those who work with them, paints a vivid portrait of the human condition. These stories, by turns heartbreaking, infuriating and moving, will enable readers to see migrants in a new way, as they come to know them not simply as a political issue but as human beings with rich and complicated lives–like all of us. Open this book and encounter some contemporary parables. And then let your heart be opened."—James Martin, SJ , author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage

"Voices of the Border springs from the exemplary witness and work of the binational Kino Border Initiative. The volume’s insightful framing essays and testimonios contextualize the complex issue of migration, offer a powerful counternarrative to demonizing misconceptions, and—most significantly—center migrants’ own voices. Its thematic approach and accessible prose make the dynamic and informative volume valuable for use with undergraduate and graduate courses, immersion trips, or civic and religious groups."—Kristin E. Heyer, professor of theological ethics, Boston College

"A moving portrayal of immigrant struggles, hopes, and determination. These powerful testimonios lift up the voices and stories of 'the forgotten people' demanding to be heard. A labor of love and social justice, the authors legitimize the lives lived while asking readers to engage in our shared humanity."—Susana Rivera-Mills, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Ball State University

"Voices of the Border masterfully interweaves the powerful testimonios of migrants at the Sonora-Arizona border with the literatures on immigration, border enforcement, immigrant criminalization, and Latin American history. The editors and contributors place the humanity and dignity of the lives of those with whom they spoke at the forefront of the volume. Voices of the Border is a must-read for immigration scholars, activists, policymakers, and members of faith-based organizations."—Daniel E. Martínez , associate professor of sociology and codirector of the Binational Migration Institute, University of Arizona

"In this must-read book, the voices of migrants provide an essential roadmap for change. This collection models a polyvocal commitment to social justice and presents an alternative path: by following the lead of those directly impacted, brutal US policies can be replaced with discourse and actions that ensure the dignity of all human beings."—Deborah A. Boehm, author of Returned: Going and Coming in an Age of Deportation

"Voices of the Border witnesses immigration and its complications on the US-Mexico border in an emotional, unforgettable way."—Foreword Reviews

"Voices of the Border offers an intimate, emotional view into the migrant experience, and it is an excellent read for scholars and the public alike."—Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books


Rev. Sean Carroll, SJ, Marla Conrad, Cecilia Guadalupe Espinosa Martínez, Jorge A. Andrade Galindo, Tobin Hansen, David Hill, María Engracia Robles Robles, Fr. Samuel Lozano de los Santos, Joanna Williams, Sathya Honey Victoria

Supplemental Materials


About the Author

Tobin Hansen is an instructor of anthropology at the University of Oregon. His research examines migration and deportation, race, masculinities, care, borders, prisons, and gangs. He is a volunteer at the Kino Border Initiative.

María Engracia Robles Robles is a Missionary Sister of the Eucharist and education coordinator at the Kino Border Initiative. She is the author of Las últimas serán las primeras: El discipulado de las mujeres en los Evangelios.

Sean Carroll, SJ, is the executive director of the Kino Border Initiative.

232 pp., 6 x 9
19 b&w photos
ISBN: 978-1-64712-084-9
Jul 2021

232 pp., 6 x 9
19 b&w photos
Jul 2021

232 pp.
19 b&w photos
ISBN: 978-1-64712-085-6
Jul 2021

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