“Crossing the wire”—what does the expression mean?

It’s one expression for illegal entry into the United says from Mexico throughout the barbed-wire cattle fence that separates the two nations along far swaths the the border. Legal crossings take ar at ports of entry in the border towns and cities.

How and when did you start working on Crossing the Wire?

For years, I had been snipping short articles from newspapers and also magazines, taping documentaries, analysis books. So much of what we hear and also read around illegal immigration is generalizations, statistics, and also political arguments. I had actually been payment attention, but far much more compelling to be the human being interest story which said of the experiences of people trying to overcome the border illegally. In the fall of 2003 ns committed myself to researching and also trying to create a story. I started by safety a week follow me Arizona’s border v Mexico, native Douglas west come the far Tohono O’odham Reservation. Ns interviewed part people, but I likewise drove part remote roads and also did part hiking.

You hiked come Baboquivari Peak, which ended up being important in the story.

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It’s an exceptional landmark. You deserve to see it from lots of directions, often from seventy mile or more. It drew me like a magnet (see photo).

Did you rise to the top?

I love come read about the exploits of technical mountain climbers, but I’ve never ever done any type of vertical climbing. It took some steep bushwhacking come get fairly close to the base of the peak. I gained a an excellent idea of how scratchy and also unforgiving those desert mountains are. I got close sufficient to think just how scary it would be to shot to overcome the Lion’s Ledge.

Did you already have Victor in mind?

It to be on that hike come Baboquivari peak that I started to think around my main character. That was he, where was that from, and why had actually he left home? What had he gone with to obtain this far? What were the twists and also turns that led him to this forbidding landscape, and where was he trying to go? an extremely quickly I thought of interviewing mine niece, who had actually lived v a household in a town in the hills of main Mexico. Annie functioned there because that a summer ~ above volunteer jobs through Amigos de las Americas. My key character could be from that village.

Is Los Arboles the name of the yes, really village? Is Victor a real person?

Los Arboles is fictional, as space Victor and all the other characters. However yes, Victor’s town is based on the real-life one. Both lie listed below the mountaintop statue that El Cristo Rey, put up at the geographical facility of Mexico. My idea was to discover all I might from my niece around the resides of human being in that town (see photo). All that detail and texture would help me extremely in producing a character and also visualizing the early on scenes in the story. I had actually resolved to begin in Victor’s home village so that the reader (and I) could come to know his family and the life he to be leaving behind, and his factors for leaving.


Crossing the Wire seems so realistic.

That’s what ns was aiming for. The things that occur to Victor, Rico, Julio, Miguel, and also others, are attracted from mine research into the journeys that illegal immigrants. Yes a the majority of randomness to what can and does happen—so countless dangers and mishaps. You’d need to have incredible determination to try it at all. To shot it there is no the money to salary the coyotes (smugglers), you need to be no hope and an extremely brave.

You mentioned in your Author’s note that ever because 9/11, it has obtained a lot an ext dangerous for human being without papers to make their method across the border to seek work in the U.S. Why is that?

Increased defense in the border towns and cities has actually deflected most of the illegal crossers to remote stretches that the border. In 2004, once Crossing the Wire takes place, an ext than half of all illegal crossings were right into Arizona. The same hosted true in 2005. Hundreds die in Arizona’s deserts every year. Plenty of of the dead are never identified.

Was the story easier to write because you had actually learned so much of what wake up to people trying to cross the border there is no documents?

It rotate out just the opposite. At every allude in Victor’s journey, i could picture lots of different things that might happen. Through numerous drafts, i tried out fairly a few options that, as soon as I sought them, seemed to derail the story. You’re always trying to number out what will offer the story the form that will make it fly.

As you to be researching the story, walk you acquire close to wherein Victor the cross the border, whereby it’s simply a barbed cable fence?

Yes, by traveling a remote road south in the Tohono O’odham Reservation. The reservation has about seventy-five mile of border through Mexico, and also is heavily patrolled by ours Border Patrol. Since it is so remote, the preventive has become one that the most commonly used cross areas.

Did you feel the presence of danger?

Jean and also I were very jumpy. I had learned the heavily equipped drug smugglers space crossing the border all the time. I thought I was 2 or 3 miles native the border once I experienced the flashing lamp of a Border Patrol truck in my rear-view mirror. I stopped where the deserted road was making a spicy left turn. The patrolman traction alongside and asked what us were doing. “I’m a writer researching a story,” i said. “I to be hoping to gain close to the border however not too close.” that pointed at a barbed wire fence no more than a hundred feet away. “You’re looking in ~ it,” the said, and also suggested I rotate around.

What rather did girlfriend see?

On the method back come Tucson that day, we saw a medicine bust follow me the next of the road. I saw countless bales of drugs wrapped in brown tape ns later described in the novel. The headlines in the Tucson paper that day were around a deadly shoot-out ~ above the interstate in between rival coyote gangs. One gang had actually picked increase a group of illegals the “belonged” come the other.

Victor and also Rico hear about an event like that.

Now you recognize where it came from—real life. Unfortunately, those sorts of events are all too common. Yes sir a significant amount of criminal activity on both sides of the border that goes hand-in-hand through illegal immigration. It’s component of the “big picture” of this facility and controversial subject I hope to provide readers together they complied with Victor native his house in Mexico come his very first job in the States.

Have you ever known any field workers favor Victor?

My first job out of university was 6 weeks of choose fruit together a dozen or so guys from Mexico. The orchard remained in Emmett, Idaho. The guys spent practically nothing on themselves. Your paychecks went straight to their families earlier home.

What were they like?

They were friendly and had a an excellent sense that humor. It to be really difficult work, and they functioned like you i will not ~ believe. There was just one day once I controlled to choose as plenty of bins of apples (six) as the finest pickers. I’ve brought a most respect because that those males over the years. As you learn in Crossing the Wire, it has become challenging to impossible in recent years because that migrant workers favor the ones ns knew come return home for part of the year. Imagine the impact on them and also their families back in Mexico, and also then take into consideration all those deaths in the desert.

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There needs to be a far better way. By the moment you are reading this, probably we have begun to resolve some of the plenty of thorny problems involved in illegal immigration.