caroline eaton tracey

caroline.e.tracey at gmail dot com

The Indefensible Job of Policing the Border: Review of Against the Wall by Jenn Budd
The Nation, 26 December 2023

“With no energy left to expend justifying what she sees, she leaves the Border Patrol and takes an entry-level job at her partner’ cabinet-making business in San Diego. But she can’t shake off her time in the agency. She feels caught between missing the sense of purpose it gave her and wanting the Border Patrol to own up to its misdeeds. She makes a suicide attempt in her partner’s woodshop.

She’s not the only one to have done so: She recalls how a coworker named Dave “drank himself crazy and set himself on fire,” how another “[blew] his brains out with his service weapon,” and how a third “sat in the carpool parking lot along I-8 and took a bottle of pills.” The agency pushed them to their breaking point before they could articulate what felt so wrong. [...]

During the long process of recovery, she connects her childhood memories of being physically abused by her mother with her experience as a Border Patrol agent. Seeing the resonance between the two forms of violence is what finally enables her to piece together the confusing feelings that pushed her out of the agency. “My childhood abuse led to poor decisions like joining the Border Patrol and ignoring all the signs, all the red flags that were plain as day,” she writes. “The systemic abuse the agency dished out towards female agents that I suffered was frankly normal for me.”

This also forms the book’s key conceptual point: that when you learn to rationalize interpersonal abuse, it’s not a leap to justify—and
participate in—state violence.”

Getty Images

reporting on the Arizona border wall, november 2022 (photo: Eliseu Cavalcante)

with Ellen Waterston and guest judge Raquel Gutiérrez at the 2022 Waterston Desert Writing Prize awards ceremony
Caroline Eaton Tracey writes about the environment, migration, and the arts in the US Southwest, Mexico, and their borderlands. She speaks and works in English, Spanish, and Russian. Her first book, SALT LAKES, will be published by W.W. Norton.

Caroline’s reporting appears in the New Yorker, n+1, New York Review of Books, High Country News, and elsewhere, as well as in Spanish in Mexico’s Nexos

In 2022 she was awarded the Waterston Prize for Desert Writing and in 2023 she received Columbia University’s Ira A. Lipman Fellowship in Journalism and Human and Civil Rights and a Silvers Foundation Work-in-Progress grant.

Caroline holds a PhD in Geography from the University of California, Berkeley. She lives with her wife, Mexican architect and sculptor Mariana GJP, between Tucson, Arizona and Mexico City.

She is represented by Bridget Matzie of Aevitas Creative Management.
Caroline Eaton Tracey escribe sobre el medioambiente, la migración, el arte y la literatura en México, el Suroeste de Estados Unidos y su frontera. Habla ingles, español y ruso. Su primer libro, SALT LAKES será publicado bajo el sello de la editorial W.W. Norton.

Sus artículos aparecen en The New Yorker, n+1, New York Review of Books y High Country News entre otros lugares. En español escribe frecuentemente para la revista Nexos.

En 2022 ganó el Premio Waterston por Escritura del Desierto y en 2023 recibió la beca Ira A. Lipman de periodismo de derechos humanos y civiles de Columbia University y una beca de la Fundación Silvers.

Caroline es Doctora en Geografía de la Universidad de California–Berkeley. Vive con su esposa, la arquitecta y escultora mexicana Mariana GJP, entre Tucson, Arizona y la Ciudad de México.

La representa Bridget Matzie de la agencia literaria Aevitas Creative Management.