The Border Patrol thinks that if most liberal Americans saw what it saw, they’d change their minds about the border. Following an invitation from two members of the Border Patrol union, writer Mattathias Schwartz went to the border for New York Magazine’s January 7–20, 2019, issue to see whether it in fact would.
“When I started working on this story, one thing I assumed is that the atmosphere in South Texas around immigration would be just as embittered and polarized as the rest of the country,” says Schwartz on the experience of reporting this story. “The way Border Patrol agents, as well as their family and neighbors, navigate the politics of immigration is far more nuanced. It gets even more complicated when they’re being used – eagerly used, in most cases – by the president in order to advance the border wall and the rest of his immigration agenda.” Until the U.S. reckons with the instability it has caused in many places from which immigrants are coming, “the debate over how to deal with what’s happening on our own border will be persistent and painful theme in domestic US politics,” Schwartz adds.
The cover image, shot by Kirsten Luce, stood out to New York Magazine’s photography editors because of the way it portrays the reality of the situation at the border.