JOURNALIST AND WRITER
In December 2019, the city of Chula Vista announced with much fanfare that it had been designated as California’s first Welcoming City. This designation honored the community’s commitment to include its undocumented residents. Located 15 minutes from the U.S.-Mexico border, Chula Vista has one of the highest populations of immigrants in the United States, about 30 percent …
Five days after the 2010 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people in Haiti, the United States sent a jumbo jet flying over the countryside. As people stood amid the wreckage, the prerecorded, disembodied voice of Raymond Joseph, the Haitian ambassador to the United States, spoke from the sky: “Listen, don’t rush on boats to leave the country. If …
Not long into our conversation, the young woman at the migrant resource center in Sasabe, Sonora, told me why she had left her home in Baja Verapaz, Guatemala: floods had ruined her family’s crops. Her name was Flor* and she was 19 years old. Two Category 4 hurricanes battered Central American coasts in late 2020, unleashing …
“Todd Miller cuts through the facile media myths and escapes the paralyzing constraints of a political ‘debate’ that functions mainly to obscure the unconscionable inequalities that borders everywhere secure. In its soulfulness, its profound moral imagination, and its vision of radical solidarity, Todd Miller’s work is as indispensable as the love that so palpably guides it.”—Ben Ehrenreich, author of Desert Notebooks: A Road Map for the End of Time
“The stories of the humble people of the earth Miller documents ask us to also tear down the walls in our hearts and in our heads. What proliferates in the absence of these walls and in spite of them, Miller writes, is the natural state of things centered on kindness and compassion.”—Nick Estes, author of Our History Is the Future: Standing Rock Versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance
By the time Todd Miller spots him, Juan Carlos has been wandering alone in a remote border region for days. Parched, hungry and disoriented, he approaches and asks for a ride. Miller’s instinct is to oblige, but he hesitates: Furthering an unauthorized person’s entrance into the U.S. is a federal crime.
Todd Miller has been reporting from international border zones for over twenty-five years. In Build Bridges, Not Walls, he invites readers to join him on a journey that begins with the most basic of questions: What happens to our collective humanity when the impulse to help one another is criminalized?
A series of encounters—with climate refugees, members of indigenous communities, border authorities, modern-day abolitionists, scholars, visionaries, and the shape-shifting imagination of his four-year-old son—provoke a series of reflections on the ways in which nation-states create the problems that drive immigration, and how the abolition of borders could make the world a more sustainable, habitable place for all.
Is it possible to imagine a borderless world? How could it emerge, and how might it be better equipped to solve the global emergencies that threaten our collective survival? Build Bridges, Not Walls is an inspiring, impassioned call to envision—and work toward—a bold new reality.
“Joining meticulous documentation and vivid on-the-ground research in multiple border hot spots around the planet, Todd Miller pulls the veil off the layers of borders and their policing that shape our world, revealing a stunning and terrifying reality. The artificiality of borders, and the commitment of the world’s wealthy and powerful to preserve their wealth and power through them, have never been so clearly laid out.” Aviva Chomsky, author of Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal
The twenty-first century has witnessed the rapid hardening of international borders. Security, surveillance, and militarization are widening the chasm between those who travel where they please and those whose movements are restricted. But that is only part of the story. As journalist Todd Miller reveals in Empire of Borders, the nature of US borders has changed. These boundaries have effectively expanded thousands of miles outside of US territory to encircle not simply American land but Washington’s interests. Resources, training, and agents from the United States infiltrate the Caribbean and Central America; they reach across the Canadian border; and they go even farther afield, enforcing the division between Global South and North.
The highly publicized focus on a wall between the United States and Mexico misses the bigger picture of strengthening border enforcement around the world.
Empire of Borders is a tremendous work of narrative investigative journalism that traces the rise of this border regime. It delves into the practices of “extreme vetting,” which raise the possibility of “ideological” tests and cyber-policing for migrants and visitors, a level of scrutiny that threatens fundamental freedoms and allows, once again, for America’s security concerns to infringe upon the sovereign rights of other nations.
In Syria, Guatemala, Kenya, Palestine, Mexico, the Philippines, and elsewhere, Miller finds that borders aren’t making the world safe—they are the frontline in a global war against the poor.
Recipient of the 2018 Izzy Award for excellence in investigative journalism.
“Every so often a book comes along that can dramatically change, or elevate, one’s thinking about a global problem. Much like Naomi Klein’s books, Todd Miller’s Storming the Wall is such a book and deserves far more attention and discussion.”––Izzy Award Judges, Ithaca College
Description from the back cover:
In Storming the Wall, Todd Miller travels around the world to connect the dots between climate-ravaged communities, the corporations cashing in on border militarization, and emerging movements for sustainability and environmental justice. Reporting from the flashpoints of climate clashes, and from likely sites of futures battles, Miller chronicles a growing system of militarized divisions between the rich and the poor, the environmentally secure and the environmentally exposed. Kirkus Reviews called it “A galvanizing forecast of global warming’s endgame and a powerful indictment of America’s current stance.”
“Scathing and deeply reported . . . quite possibly the right book at the right time”—Los Angeles Times
Description from the back cover:
In fast-paced prose, Miller sounds an alarm as he chronicles the changing landscape. Travelling the country—and beyond—to speak with the people most involved with and impacted by the Border Patrol, he combines these first-hand encounters with careful research to expose a vast and booming industry for high-end technology, weapons, surveillance, and prisons. While politicians and corporations reap substantial profits, the experiences of millions of men, women, and children point to staggering humanitarian consequences. Border Patrol Nation shows us in stark relief how the entire country has become a militarized border zone, with consequences that affect us all.
Todd Miller writes a weekly post for The Border Chronicle. He has researched and written about border issues for more than 15 years, the last eight as an independent journalist and writer. He resides in Tucson, Arizona, but also has spent many years living and working in Oaxaca, Mexico. His work has appeared in the New York Times, TomDispatch, The Nation, San Francisco Chronicle, In These Times, Guernica, and Al Jazeera English, among other places.
Miller has authored four books: Build Bridges, Not Walls: A Journey to a World Without Borders (City Lights, 2021) Empire of Borders: The Expansion of the U.S. Border Around the World (Verso, 2019), Storming the Wall: Climate Change, Migration, and Homeland Security (City Lights, 2017), and Border Patrol Nation: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Homeland Security (City Lights, 2014).
He’s a contributing editor on border and immigration issues for NACLA Report on the Americas and its column “Border Wars”.