Up Against the Wall

Up Against the Wall

The Case for Opening the Mexican-American Border

By Peter Laufer
Foreword by Vicente Fox

The book offers a step-by-step blueprint of radical proposals for the U.S.-Mexico border that go far beyond traditional initiatives to ease restrictions on immigration. The book argues that the border with Mexico should be completely open for Mexicans wishing to travel north.

Paperback, 320 Pages


May 2022

£21.50, $28.00

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About This Book

The book offers a step-by-step blueprint of radical proposals for the U.S.-Mexican border that go far beyond traditional initiatives to ease restrictions on immigration. The book argues that the border with Mexico should be completely open for Mexicans wishing to travel north. Up Against the Wall provides the background to understanding how the border has become a fraud, resulting in nothing more than the criminalization of Mexican and other migrants, the bloating of the mismanaged U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the deterioration of living standards along the frontier, and the enrichment of American employers. Placing the border in a historical perspective, Laufer shows how circumstances have deteriorated to the present Trump-exacerbated crisis, and why the region and the migration through it cannot be ignored. Over the last several years he has interviewed dozens of authorities and men and women in the street while reporting from Mexico, along the border, and in the United States. He demonstrates that the security of America's southern border is a fallacy; offers vivid examples to illustrate how the chain of misery and lawbreaking for migrants heading north is initiated by U.S. employers, traces many of the border problems to the Guatemalan-Mexican border, and explores the abuses of the Border Patrol and the growing presence of vigilantes on the American side. Up Against the Wall is sure to provoke a lively debate over the future of Mexican immigration and global migration crises.


"I love this book. Up Against the Wall is an extraordinary contribution to the Mexican immigration debate. It's a journey to a reality that we look at every day in this country but do not see. The United States has a historic opportunity to solve this problem now, avoiding worse consequences in the future." —Rosental Alves, director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, University of Texas

“Fearlessly, Peter Laufer steps into the middle of the debate and states his case making points that will leave people shaking their heads. A primary text.”—Luis Alberto Urrea, author of Across the Wire and The Devil's Highway, professor, University of Illinois-Chicago

"This is great reporting on a complex, delicate and controversial subject. Peter Laufer knows the American side of the border and the issue, but understands the Mexican one as well. It is a case well made for a different approach to a long-standing matter of dispute between the two countries. In the current debate about immigration in the United States, this is well worth reading." —Jorge G. Castañeda, former foreign minister of Mexico, professor of Latin American and Caribbean studies, New York University

“Peter Laufer has written a clear and compelling book, for a general audience, that develops the case for opening the Mexican-American border. The case he makes elegantly weaves his deep understanding of border issues into an eloquent narrative that is based on his journeys along the Mexican-American border. Laufer embellishes the case with his strong command of history and social science on border issues. For those asking for the best book available on why the Mexican-American border should be open, Peter Laufer’s Up Against the Wall is their answer. —David Frank, professor of rhetoric, University of Oregon

“Donald Trump (and all of us) must read this book to understand what walls really do for us —and to us. Peter Laufer’s investigation of barriers is so important at a time when we urgently need unity.” —Terry Phillips, former CBS News foreign correspondent

"This book is a highly compelling and thoughtful examination of one of the most critical issues of public importance in the 21st century. Moreover, it is a topic of enduring importance that transcends both time and place. The book is very well researchedand written. The storytelling is highly engaging and immersive. It takes the reader on a powerful journey into the issue of borders and border walls and immigration, advancing understanding of the complex dynamics of the U.S. and Mexico border." —John Pavlik, professor of journalism and media, Rutgers University

“I have spent my career debating borders, 100 percent of it on the opposite side of Peter Laufer’s premise in Up Against the Wall. But whether as an inspiration for those who agree or a delightful intellectual exercise for those who don’t, this book is time very well spent.” —Mark Davis, talk show host, Salem Media Group

"Peter Laufer offers a vivid chronicle of his experiences and encounters spanning many years as a veteran journalist of the US-Mexico borderlands. The stories that Laufer shares provide a resounding testament to the colossal irrationality and brutality of the border." —Nicholas De Genova, professor, comparative cultural studies, University of Houston

“Peter Laufer’s latest book offers a fresh, engaging look at the often misunderstood US-Mexico border issue, and even traces the origin of the expression, “Up against the wall, mother**cker!” Having covered the border for years, I can say his superbly reported book is an insightful "must read" for those seeking to cut through the cacophony of disinformation and prejudice.” —Barry Shlachter (former AP foreign correspondent; former roving Texas reporter with The Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

Author Information

Peter Laufer, PhD holds the inaugural James Wallace Chair in Journalism at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication where he was awarded the Marshall Prize for teaching innovation. A former and longtime global correspondent for NBC News, Laufer reports on borders, identities and migration. He has covered the requisite wars and earthquakes, coups and elections.


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Table of Contents

Preface, Bienvenidos, Amigos; Foreword, by Former President of Mexico Vicente Fox; Chapter 1, Up Against the Wall, (Expletive); Chapter 2, Illegal Alien or Clever New American; Chapter 3, Still Life on the Border; Chapter 4, On Guard; Chapter 5, Death along for the Ride; Chapter 6, A Weary Lawyer’s View; Chapter 7, What Is a Border?; Chapter 8, Failed Borders; Chapter 9, U.S. Annexation of Half of Mexico; Chapter 10, Early Border Control; Chapter 11, The Historical Failure of Border Control; Chapter 12, The Vigilante Movement; Chapter 13, Americans Party South, Mexicans Struggle North; Chapter 14, The Porous, Shifting Border; Chapter 15, Illegal Americans; Chapter 16, On the Kentucky-Mexican Border; Chapter 17, Deportation Made Easier; Chapter 18, One Farmer Working by the Rules; Chapter 19, Who Wants the Border Closed?; Chapter 20, Burden or Benefit?; Chapter 21, The Long Road North from Chiapas and Chihuahua; Chapter 22, No Amigos in the White House; Epilogue, A Practical Blueprint for Normalizing the U.S.-Mexico Border; Index.


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