Dying To Live
A Story of U.S. Immigration in an Age of Global Apartheid
Photographs by Mizue Aizeki





"A Tale of Two Voyages" Joseph Nevins in the Huffington Post
Feb 21, 2012


Joseph Nevins, author of Dying to Live, responds to the mainstream media's coverage of the Costa Concordia disaster and also addresses another tragedy in which a small vessel carrying migrants from the Dominican Republic sank, killing 52 people. Nevins discusses the dangerous journey of migrants trying to reach Puerto Rico from the Dominican Republic and the injustice of mainstream media's lack of coverage on these types of disasters.

- Joseph Nevins, Huffington Post

Security First: The Obama Administration and Immigration "Reform"
Jan 10, 2010

"In a November 13 speech to the Center for American Progress in Washington, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano made clear that President Obama's administration intends to move forward soon on legislation that would bring about 'an immigration system that works.' The administration, she promised, "will pursue reforms" true to an American identity as 'both a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws.' In this way, Napolitano asserted, Congress and the White House would avoid the pitfalls of the 'one-sided' reforms of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act. ...

The administration's apparent new willingness to take on immigration reform might seem like a ray of light in an increasingly bleak landscape for immigrants, especially of the unauthorized variety. But at a time of a deep economic downturn, and with anti-immigrant sentiment strongly in the air, the challenges are daunting, to say the least, in terms of Congress passing legislation aimed at easing the repressive laws and exclusion endured by immigrants."

- Joseph Nevins, ZMagazine

The Latin American Review of Books

". . . a powerful, multifaceted study of Mexican and Central American migration to the US that combines historical analysis with a graphic narrative account of the economic and social factors that perpetuate it. . . . [Nevins] reminds us why we must tear down these artificial and illegitimate boundaries and allow migrants to find the same dream of a better life that so many Americans have had the privilege to live."
— Gavin O'Toole


Progress in Human Geography

"Dying to Live is a powerful examination of the messy politics and human consequences of US immigration policies. Joseph Nevins skillfully weaves the personal story of Julio César Gallegos, a migrant who died attempting to cross the US-Mexico boundary, together with detailed historical research to explore the boundary's ideological construction, the USA's 'race-class-nation hierarchy’, and the role of law in shaping Americans’ geographical imagination."
— Nancy Hiemstra


North American Congress on Latin America

"Nevins's book, thanks to excellent research and a nuanced application of theory, demonstrates not only professional excellence but also an ongoing commitment to justice and human rights. By calling the entire notion of a 'right to be here' into question, Dying to Live serves as a powerful antidote to nationalistic amnesia on the part of the U.S. public, which has been too willing to embrace a shortsighted version of U.S.-Mexican history. By analyzing enforcement in the space of the border, he has provided an extension of the concept of structural violence. Those of us living in border states, especially Arizona, owe Nevins our appreciation. He shows how one can analyze policy information in a way that clearly communicates how common racial constructions support and extend the state’s use of violence."


Haitian Immigrant's Redemption Story Leaves ICE Cold
Jan 8, 2010

"Can people change?

This question is at the heart of a fight between Homeland Security and Jean Montrevil. The answer has major implications for the reforms that lawmakers propose when they take up immigration reform after health care."

- Mizue Aizeki & Aarti Shahani, New American Media

Roberto Martinez: The Struggle to Overcome the U.S.-Mexico Divide

"At 6:30 a.m. on May 20, agents from the U.S. Border Patrol and the Transportation Safety Administration descended on a trolley station near downtown San Diego. After questioning commuters about their U.S. residency status—allegedly because they were behaving suspiciously—agents detained 21 individuals, three of whom were teenagers on their way to their high school. Later that day, having made the determination that the three minors were in the United States 'illegally,' the Border Patrol deported them to Mexico, thus dividing them from their parents and siblings living in San Diego."

- Joseph Nevins, War Resisters League

The Dangers of not Thinking Politically: A Review of Sin Nombre
May 25, 2009

"At the same time, Sin Nombre makes invisible the U.S. enforcement apparatus. In terms of the actual movement across the U.S.-Mexico boundary, it only shows a single unauthorized crossing, one that is successful and seemingly challenge-free. The films does this despite the fact that the size of the boundary and immigration apparatus has exploded in the last 15 years — the U.S. Border Patrol, for instance, has more than quadrupled in size (there are today 18,000+ agents) during this period. Meanwhile, more than 5,000 migrant bodies have been recovered in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands since 1995, a tragic manifestation of the boundary's 'hardening.'"

- Joseph Nevins, dissidentvoice.org

Latin American Perspectives

"Joseph Nevins's Dying to Live weaves the struggle of one family into the history of U.S. racism, global economic inequality, and 'nationalization' to provide a forceful indictment of global apartheid. Dying to Live is a hard-hitting book that should be read as a call to action. It breaks the silence surrounding migrant deaths at the hands of the power elite. Interspersed throughout the book are equally powerful photographs by Mizue Aizeki." —Gilda L. Ochoa


Cooperation and Conflict
"Dying to Live is a journey into the historically evolved and still evolving meanings and effects of the US–Mexico boundary.Through his analysis, that moves from the early nineteenth century to the present (pp.75–121), Nevins shows the shift in the ideological and material weight of the boundary from a line on a map to a set of practices of inclusion and exclusion. . . Anyone interested especially in migration in the US–Mexican region, or more generally in the effects borders bear in people's lives, should take a look at Nevins’s story." —Eeva Puumala

New Politics
"[Nevins'] careful and well-written documentation of the historical and social antecedents of immigrant deaths on the desert conveys how absurd United States's politics of immigration and exclusion play out. By focusing first on geography - specifically the U.S. Mexico boundary and all that it implies in political and sociological terms - Nevins produces an ongoing accumulation of the prejudice and abuse that culminated in Gallegos' - and hundreds of other immigrants' - deaths. . . In spite of its title, Dying To Live is no tearjerker. Although Nevins makes no attempt to conceal where his sympathies lie, and pointedly criticizes U.S. policies and aggression, he focuses on facts, quotes, descriptions. And although one feels an immense sympathy for Gallegos and his American-born wife and children, the book engenders outrage, not tears." —Robert Joe Stout

Kosmopolitan
"Dying to Live combines prodigious research, passionate argument, and masterful storytelling to describe the complicated landscape of U.S. immigration policies. . . Photographs by Mizue Aizeki appear throughout the book and add an element of human empathy that Nevins tries to cultivate in geography through story and argument.  Dying to Live expands minds, ideas of borders, and notions of geography. . . Add Nevins book to your essential reading list." —Jillian McLaughlin

Pirates Vs. Emperors
May 7, 2009
"About 16 centuries ago the renowned theologian St. Augustine related a tale about a pirate captured by Alexander the Great who asked his prisoner 'how he dares molest the sea.' 'How dare you molest the whole world?' responded the pirate. 'Because I do it with a little ship only, I am called a thief; you, doing it with a great navy, are called an emperor.'

Centuries later, this unjust dynamic became widespread as Western powers carved up the globe. Throughout their colonies they established courts that prosecuted crimes defined by the occupying power. Not surprisingly, the courts typically focused their efforts on the alleged crimes of imperial subjects, while upholding the institutionalized injustices and the acts of physical violence needed to sustain it." - Joseph Nevins, New America Media


ZNet Interview with Joseph Nevins about his new book
Feb 5, 2009

"Can you tell ZNet, please, what Dying to Live: A Story of U.S. Immigration in an Age of Global Apartheid is about? What is it trying to communicate?

On one level, Dying to Live is about the life and death of one migrant from central Mexico, Julio Cesar Gallegos. It concerns how and why he left his homeland for Los Angeles in 1993, and his fatal attempt to cross the border once again several years later, this time in California's Imperial Valley. At the time, he was trying to rejoin his son and wife, then pregnant with their second child, in Los Angeles after having returned to his hometown of Juchipila, Zacatecas."

- ZNet

International Socialist Review

"Joseph Nevins' Dying to Live packs a many-sided, moving, and uncompromising account of the development of U.S. immigration and its associated politics into a short and readable book. . . . Rather than simply rebutting the myths of the anti-immigrant Right on economics, crime, etc., his book offers those movements a powerful challenge to the principles of 'nation-statism' that frame mainstream discussion of immigration. . . . By counterposing the growth of transnational ties to the growth of global apartheid, enforced by border and related 'nation-statist' practices, Nevins makes an eloquent and fundamental case against immigration restrictions as such. . . . Moving photographs by Mizue Aizeki add immediacy and layers of meaning."

—Avery Wear


Fellowship Magazine

"Dying to Live is an invaluable book—one which is as contextual as it is analytical, as factual as it is moving. . . . In a compelling, accessible story, Joseph Nevins guides his readers through the complexities and intricacies of immigration, boundary-making, and their human affects and realities . . . with a Howard Zinn-like attention to historical detail, Nevins provides a comprehensive accounting of the actors, circumstances, and dynamics that culminated to create the current situation at the United States' southern border, specifically focusing on the Imperial Valley region of California."


2008 Honorable Mention
Dec 23, 2008

"Joseph Nevins and Mizue Aizeki, authors of Dying to Live: A Story of U.S. Immigration in an Age of Global Apartheid received an Honorable Mention Award from the Gustavus Myers Center."

- Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights

In Age of Migration, Human Rights Declaration Falls Short
Dec 10, 2008

"Sixty years ago today, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as 'a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.' Since its birth on Dec. 10, 1948, the declaration has played a significant role in advancing the rights and freedoms it enumerates. Yet it has also helped legitimate the putative right of nation-states to regulate immigration, thus denying freedom of international mobility and residence, and undermining basic human rights in the process."

- Joseph Nevins, New American Media

School Library Journal

"Ten years ago Julio César Gallegos, one of countless immigrants, attempted to reunite with his family in Los  Angeles and died of dehydration while crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in California's Imperial  Valley. In Dying to Live, Nevins not only tells Gallegos's story, but also presents the geographic, historical, and political context of the U.S-Mexico border. Gallegos's motivations, struggles, and sacrifices serve as examples throughout the book of both past and present social stratification, political hypocrisy, and 'global apartheid.' Including photographs and maps, the book details the history, policies, and economics that have driven and prevented Mexican migration to the United States. The social and economic links between the two countries are described, primarily in relation to the agricultural industry in the border states. The strength of this book lies in the wealth of research and information presented on the history and politics of the border regions of Mexico and California. Teens will not only find the author's information valuable, but will also revel in the sources presented in the bibliography. However, researchers looking for insight into migration through Mexico from other Latin American countries will not find much information in this title. The scholarly tone and depth of the material make this book best suited for advanced readers and researchers."


Barricading the Border: A History of the US/Mexico Border Fence
Nov 14, 2008
"On August 18, 1971, first lady Pat Nixon inaugurated Border Field State Park. Located in Imperial Beach, California, at the extreme southwest corner of the continental United States, the park is the site of the initial international borderline established after the U.S.-Mexico War ended in 1848. The park's planners, according to the San Diego Union, envisioned free access to it for people on both sides of the boundary. In her speech, the first lady promised to cross the boundary to shake hands with some of the hundreds of Mexican nationals witnessing her visit. As reported in the Los Angeles Times, she declared, 'I hate to see a fence anywhere.'" - Joseph Nevins and Timothy Dunn, Counterpunch

Local Luminary: Joseph Nevins
Sep 25, 2008
"It is conventional political wisdom in America to secure and fortify the country's borders. Joseph Nevins disagrees. At Vassar College, he teaches courses on geography, mass violence, and the partitioning of the global landscape. Nevins has been conducting interviews and doing research on immigration and the US-Mexico border since the Clinton administration. He is increasingly unsettled by the level of surveillance, fences, underground sensors, weaponry, and laws that comprise the boundary-enforcement apparatus. Today, 338 miles of fencing separate the US and Mexico; the Department of Customs and Border Protection plans to have another 332 miles of fence in place before the end of this year. With a total of 20,000 agents expected by next year, the Border Patrol will have doubled in size since 2001. More than 5,000 migrants have died in attempts to cross the border over the last 10 years; some of them in efforts to return to their US-citizen wives and children. A keen critic of today’s border policies, Nevins powerfully asserts that the more fences we fortify, the more deaths we can expect to see in the borderlands. Produced with the assistance of his partner and wife, photographer Mizue Aizeki, Nevins’s newest book, Dying to Live: A Story of US Immigration in an Age of Global Apartheid (2008,City Lights Books), is an examination of how and why the US-Mexico borderlands have become what they are, and a memorial to the many migrants who have lost their lives there." - Christina Kaminski, Chronogram Magazine

Pat Nixon at the U.S.-Mexico Border
Aug 21, 2008
"The death of nine Central American and Mexican migrants in a vehicle crash near Florence, Ariz. on Aug. 9 is only one of the latest grisly manifestations of the mounting toll in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. More than 5,000 bodies have been recovered since the mid-1990s, the "collateral damage" of a war on unauthorized migrants that has led them and their guides to take ever-greater risks to evade the intensifying boundary enforcement apparatus." - Joseph Nevins, New American Media

Death as a Way of Life
Jul 27, 2008
"Esequiel Hernández Jr. was only 18-years-old when Clemente Manuel Banuelos, a U.S. Marine corporal, shot and killed him in Redford, Texas in May 1998. Hernández, a high school student, was the first civilian killed by U.S. troops within national territory since the Kent State massacre of May 1970." - Joseph Nevins, CounterPunch

Joseph Nevins interviewed on Uprising
Jul 23, 2008
Joseph Nevins interviewed on KPFK about immigration and Dying to Live. - KPFK Los Angeles

Joseph Nevins interviewed on Nightcall with Peter Werbe
Jul 20, 2008
"Joseph Nevins, author, Dying to Live: A Story of U.S. Immigration in an Age of Global Apartheid, used the death of Julio Cesar Gallegos, who died trying to enter this country illegally, to amplify the larger questions of American immigration policy." - Peter Werbe, WRIF Detroit

Jim Agnew's Daily Picks
Jul 9, 2008
Jim Agnew includes Dying to Live by Joseph Nevins as one of his blog's daily picks. - Jim Agnew

Counterpunch
"Dying to Live interweaves meticulously documented history of Mexican immigration to the U.S. with the story of the Gallegos family's struggles. . .Nevins lays bare the overheated demonization of foreigners that has dominated U.S. politics since the September 11, 2001 Al Qaeda attacks. . .Nevins’s text is complemented by Mizue Aizeki’s powerful photos, which emphasize the basic humanity of poor people targeted by xenophobic U.S. border militarization policies. This book is the perfect antidote to the mantras of hate heard round the clock on right wing AM radio. It artfully shows the importance of solidarity with poor populations who are paying the price for corporate profiteering in the age of NAFTA and other such misleadingly-labeled 'free trade' agreements."
--Ben Terrall

Midwest Book Review
"A definitive criticism by author Joseph Nevins of the U.S.'s practices on immigration today. . . an eye opening account of immigration that is judicially defined as illegal -- and the cruelty that sometimes lies within. . . Dying to Live is a deftly written treatise on immigration, a must to those who want to further understand the subject."

Book News, Inc.
"Julio César Gallegos became a subject of international news in 1998 by dying while trying to join his family in Los Angeles. Nevins . . . begins with his story as a case study, then widens his view to discuss the people, the border, the desert, and the bodies. Documentary photographer Mizue Aizeki provides black and white illustrations."

Feminist Review
"[Author Joseph Nevins] attempts to answer difficult questions—like how do issues of identity play out in those unable to call a country a home and should people be allowed to move between the border without consequence or should there be stricter regulations? Nevins also writes about places along the border that seem to blend the Mexican and American cultures and identities, becoming a transnational space that, while united, still maintains ideological differences between the two nations. Dying to Live is well researched and well cited. The author allows the reader to come to his or her own conclusions about the issue. The conclusion I came to is that the issue is far more complicated than I could have imagined."
—Kristin Conard 

The Socialist Worker
"Nevins places the U.S.-Mexico border in the context of global apartheid, a world system in which the privileges of an elite few and the poverty of the many are both increasing, aided by mechanisms of racial exclusion and 'nation-statism' . . . Informed by the layers of history that Nevins uncovers, we can place the blame for the thousands of deaths on the border where it belongs: on a system of global capitalism that needs workers to cross borders but also needs to keep them oppressed and controlled. . . Powerful photographs by Mizue Aizeki keep the humanity and agency of immigrants and their families at the forefront of this important book."
Gillian Russom

Global apartheid: Book explores illegal immigration
Jul 6, 2008
"Denying people the right to live and work productively amounts to a form of global apartheid, compelling them to take their chances and cross the U.S. border. " - Silvio J. Panta, Imperial Valley Press

Booklist
"Nevins writes a compelling indictment of this nation's immigration policy directed toward Mexico, centering on one Mexican immigrant, Julio Cesar Gallegos, 23, who died in 1998 along with six others in the California desert in Imperial Valley. Gallegos had been visiting family in Juchipila, in the state of Zacatecas, and was trying to return to his wife, a U.S. citizen, and 2-year-old son, with whom he lived in East L.A. Nevins condemns this tragedy not with emotional rhetoric but rather via an extensive, thoroughly documented explication of the political and economic history of both Imperial Valley and Juchipila, Mexico. Contributing factors to the conundrum of our current immigration policies include irrigation of the valley in the early twentieth century, the Mexican Revolution and the resulting Immigration Act of 1917, World War II and the Bracero program, the rise and fall of the UFW (and the resulting decline of farm workers' unions), and California's 1994 ballot measure (Proposition 187) denying public services to undocumented migrants. Nevins' is a thoughtful and elucidating exploration of this multifaceted problem."

Forced Migration
Jun 25, 2008
"As Joseph Nevins points out in his book Dying to Live: A Story of US Immigration in an Age of Global Apartheid, the problem with immigration policy, both in the United States and elsewhere in the developed world, is that it is viewed as an issue of law and order, rather than one of human rights." - John Craig Freeman, John Craig Freeman blog

Dying to Live by Joseph Nevins
Jun 25, 2008
"A compelling account of U.S. immigration and border enforcement told through the journey of one man who perished in California's Imperial Valley while trying to reunite with his wife and child in Los Angeles. . . Joseph Nevins and Mizue Aizeki spent several years working on the book, researching and documenting life in southern California, the U.S-Mexico borderlands, and central Mexico." - Will Kirkland, Ruth Group

Joseph Nevins on "Dying to Live: A Story of US Immigration in an Age of Global Apartheid"
Jun 20, 2008
"As we mark World Refugee Day, Joseph Nevins traces the human tragedy of immigration across the US-Mexico border." - Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!

Apartheid's Global Face: From South Africa to the United States
Jun 4, 2008
"Fourteen years ago in May, Nelson Mandela assumed the presidency of a democratic South Africa, marking the formal end of the transition from Apartheid. But the shocking reports and images of the recent attacks against immigrants in many of South Africa’s main cities that have left about 50 dead — some of them burned alive — show that apartheid lives on: it is a global one, embedded in the very fabric of a world order predicated on nation-states." - Joseph Nevins, CommonDreams.org

An Excerpt from Dying to Live by Joseph Nevins
May 31, 2008
"How and why Julio César Gallegos's ended up on the scorched desert terrain of souther California is the outgrowth of many factors, contingent and structural, incidental and historical. One of the key factors is geography, but not geography as commonly thought of as a relatively static physical landscape or points in global space. Space, like time, is dynamic and ever-changing. While shaped to a significant degree by physical forces, geographic space is largely a social creation in terms of what is contained within it, how it is divided up and bounded, and how it is perceived and lived. It is thus a product of power relations and all the conflict—as well as cooperation—that they entail."
- Joseph Nevins, ZNet

New Book: Dying to Live
May 29, 2008
"City Lights has announced the release of Dying to Live A Story of U.S. Immigration in an Age of Global Apartheid by Joseph Nevins, with photographs by Mizue Aizeki, a compelling account of U.S. immigration and border enforcement." - Immigration Law News

On Dogs and Illegals
Aug 17, 2007
"The public outcry and debate surrounding the July 17 indictment of football star Michael Vick for dogfighting raises many questions. Among them—given the widespread, simultaneous silence surrounding the growing migrant death toll along the U.S.-Mexico boundary—is how concern for the well-being of dogs compares to that for human beings." - Joseph Nevins, CommonDreams.org

'Illegal Aliens' in Our Midst: What Would Jesus Do?
Dec 24, 2007
"With unauthorized immigration a central issue in the presidential campaign and the leading candidates defining themselves as strong adherents to some form of Christianity, the Christmas season is an appropriate time to ask as one person did during the November 28 Republican CNN/YouTube debate in St. Petersburg, Florida, 'What would Jesus do?'

On the heels of that question, which happened to be about capital punishment, someone asked the candidates if they believed every word of the Bible. The three who responded–Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, and Mitt Romney–indicated in essence that, while one cannot always take the Bible literally, it provides a set of guidelines for how life should be lived. Undoubtedly, the other major candidates–Democrat and Republican alike–would have answered similarly."

- Joseph Nevins, CommonDreams.org