Welcome to The Border Chronicle

Original Reporting and Analysis from the US-Mexico Border

Thank you for subscribing to The Border Chronicle! Beginning this week, you’ll receive original reporting and analysis from the borderlands every Tuesday and Thursday in your inbox. Please forward this to anyone you know who’s interested in news from the border.

We also want to show you our new logo:

We chose a scorpion because they are pervasive in the borderlands. They’re also tough and will be here long after we’re gone.

Also, don’t mess with the scorpion, or you’re gonna get stung! This means you corrupt politicians, dodgy bureaucrats, and government officers who refuse to fulfill our FOIA requests (CBP: we are looking at you).

Now down to business: we’ll be launching on September 9. Our first week will be devoted to looking back at 9/11 and its effect on the borderlands. One of 9/11’s major impacts was the founding of the Department of Homeland Security. Hastily created in 2002, Congress swept 22 federal agencies into one massive agency with a murky mission.

Since then, we’ve seen the rapid growth of DHS, now the nation’s largest federal law enforcement agency, which has had a profound effect on border communities. For one, we now have an enormous border security industrial complex that funnels billions of taxpayer dollars to walls, detention facilities, immigration checkpoints, military weaponry, and more.

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On September 9, Todd Miller will take an in-depth look at the Biden administration and examine how it continues to feed billions into this post-9/11 border security beast. Todd will look at specific contracts and name names.

On the 14th, Melissa del Bosque will have a story featuring two key border legislators: Congressman Raúl Grijalva, who represents much of the Arizona-Mexico border, and Congresswoman Veronica Escobar from El Paso, Texas. The story will take on the question of whether DHS can be reformed and, if so, what it will take to fix it. Melissa will also talk with the legislators about why the borderlands always get the short end of the stick when it comes to Washington, DC. This story will be illuminating, but it’s also going to make you want to Hulk smash something!

Also consider becoming a paid subscriber. Much of The Border Chronicle is free. For paid subscribers, however, we’ll be offering something extra, including discussion threads with invited border scholars, scientists, and other experts, and comment posting free of troll interference. Please join us as a paid subscriber for $6 a month or at a discounted annual rate of $60. Even better, become a founding member for $125 so we can file more open-records requests and call out those elected officials who consistently fail border communities. (You’ll also get four free subscriptions for friends and family and our undying gratitude.)

We are proud and extremely humbled to have been chosen by Substack as part of its local reporting initiative to provide more community and local reporting. They’re providing us with seed money and technical support for our first year to get this project off the ground. But we want to make The Border Chronicle sustainable so that we can pave the way for others, hire more journalists, and cover more territory. We can’t do it without you!

Let us know how we’re doing. Also, if you’ve got a story idea or something you think we should dig into, write us an email at TheBorderChronicle@protonmail.com or go the old-school route and send a letter to PO Box 12136, Tucson, Arizona, 85711. (We like letters!)

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So, who are Melissa and Todd, anyway?

Before moving to Tucson in March 2021—after spending a couple of eventful (i.e., pandemic) years in Mexico City—Melissa del Bosque lived in Austin, Texas. From 2007 to 2018 she worked for The Texas Observer, a statewide progressive magazine, where she won an Emmy, National Magazine Award, and several other national journalism prizes for her reporting on the Texas-Mexico border. Prior to that she lived in the border city of McAllen, Texas, where she worked for the daily paper The Monitor. For five years she also worked in the Texas Senate as the communications director for Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa and as a policy analyst focusing on health and the environment. Since 2018, Melissa has worked as an independent investigative reporter and her work has been featured at outlets including ProPublica, The New York Times Magazine, and The Intercept. She is currently a Lannan reporting fellow with Type Investigations. She is also the author of the nonfiction book Bloodlines: The True Story of a Drug Cartel, the FBI, and the Battle for a Horse-Racing Dynasty. Born in Los Angeles and raised in San Diego, California, Melissa recently ate her first Sonoran hotdog, and is completely enamored with the tropical Sonoran Desert but her first love will always be Texas-Mexican food.

Todd Miller has researched and written about border issues for more than two decades, the last 10 as an independent journalist and writer. He is a longtime resident of Tucson, Arizona, but also spent many years living and working in Oaxaca, Mexico, and grew up in the Buffalo/Niagara Falls region (yes, a long-suffering Bills fan) staring across the US border into Canada. His work has appeared in The New York Times, TomDispatch, The Nation, The San Francisco Chronicle, In These Times, Guernica, and Al Jazeera English, among other places. Todd 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), Border Patrol Nation: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Homeland Security (City Lights, 2014), and Storming the Wall: Climate Change, Migration, and Homeland Security (City Lights, 2017), which was awarded the 2018 Izzy Award for Excellence in Independent Journalism. He’s a contributing editor on border issues for NACLA Report on the Americas. He’s also a Scorpio, which at least partially explains the logo.

Todd and Melissa on a recent trip to Nogales, Arizona, next to one of the last of the border’s pay phones (remember those!?) Also note the Border Patrol agent and a friendly roadrunner looking over their shoulders.

Also, big thanks to graphic designer Ryan Fitzgibbon for our new scorpion logo!