Angry Tías: Cruelty and Compassion on the U.S. Mexico Border

Written by Daniel Blue Tyx

During the summer of 2018, the border community of McAllen, Texas, was ground zero for the family separation crisis. McAllen is home to the Ursula Processing Center-known as la perrera, or the dog pound, for the cage-like structures holding adults and children alike-as well as the federal courthouse where scores of Central American asylum seekers are prosecuted in mass trials under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy. But while McAllen and the rest of Texas’s Rio Grande Valley gained widespread notoriety as the setting for family separations, these same border communities also became the heart of resistance. Even as the government systematically tore young children from their parents, an unlikely assemblage of activists was mobilizing to do what the government could or would not-document the identities and relationships of family members and, ultimately, reunite them.In Angry Tías: Cruelty and Compassion on the U.S.-Mexico Border, journalist and McAllen resident Daniel Blue Tyx recounts how an eclectic group of fed-up border women and under-resourced lawyers transformed their initial shock and anger at the horrors taking place in their own communities into a grassroots movement for democracy and accountability. Based on extensive interviews and reporting from detention centers, courtrooms, international bridges, and refugee shelters, Tyx weaves together the stories of activists and refugees into a narrative of a border community’s resistance to creeping authoritarianism. Unflinching and compassionate, Angry Tías is an urgent warning about the permanent harm inflicted by inhumane border policies, but it’s also a testament to the enduring power of community activism, and a call to join the fight against border policies and rhetoric that continue to dehumanize the most vulnerable among us.