“Surely we wouldn’t erect borders and checkpoints that force migrants to take precarious routes across oceans, seas, jungles, and narco-controlled territories? Surely we would not turn a blind eye to the assault, rape, kidnapping, slavery, and death to which this bordering policy directly leads?

That we learned nothing—and are willingly and knowingly doing all of the above, arguably with more sophisticated methods of containment than before—is shown, indisputably, by the 2022 book Inside Siglo XXI: Locked Up in Mexico’s Largest Immigration Detention Center. However, the novelty of Inside Siglo XXI is its recounting of another story, one that often goes unquestioned and is thus naturalized. It is the story of the author herself: US-born, Mexico-based Al Jazeera columnist Belén Fernández; a self-described globe-trotting, passport-privileged, and (to borrow her own words) nomadic “imperial emissary.”

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