No Wall They Can Build, Episode 5


The Trip and The Product


Happy May Day, everyone! Welcome to Episode 5 of No Wall They Can Build, the Ex-Worker Podcast’s serialized audiobook exploring borders and migration across North America. Having discussed the political and economic forces that drive migration north, this week’s installment examines how people get from Central America to the US/Mexico border. The routes vary in risk and cost, and are stratified depending on a traveler’s wealth and nationality, from navigating the expensive and infuriating process of attempting to secure a visa to braving La Bestia, the notoriously dangerous freight trains heading north. Some hazard the northeastern route to Reynosa through Zetas cartel territory, while many traverse the northwestern route to Altar through Sinaloa cartel lands and towards the Sonoran desert. The “unaccompanied minors crisis” of 2013–2014 serves as a case study for how the machinations of powerful states, cartels, and corporations can impact the lives of migrants. Understanding the dynamics of border crossing requires an in-depth look at the economics of the marijuana trade, concluding with a thought-provoking analysis of politics of drug legalization and an unflinching look at the customs and border patrol corruption that makes the trade possible. This episode reframes our understanding of the multi-stage process of migrating north and the power relations and economic imperatives that shape the experiences of migrants as they set off into the desert towards the United States.

Notes and Links

  • Table of Contents:
    • Introduction {0:01}
    • L.A. Onda, “How To Stop a Wound From Bleeding” {0:13}
    • The Trip {1:13}
    • Story #1: Rethinking the “Unaccompanied Minors Crisis” {12:55}
    • The Product: Capital {16:54}
    • The Product: Labor {25:10}
    • Conclusion {30:21}
  • Note: For this audiobook, we will not provide full transcripts of the text of each episode as we do for The Ex-Worker or The Hotwire. If you want to read along, you can find the book in PDF. This week’s episode covers pages 69 to 89.

  • You can check out our poster diagramming the North American border regime and immigrant solidarity stickers.

  • Stay tuned next week for Episode 6: The Border.