Empire of Borders

Empire of Borders:The Expansion of the US Border around the World

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The United States is outsourcing its border patrol abroad—and essentially expanding its borders in the process

The twenty-first century has witnessed the rapid hardening of international borders. Security, surveillance, and militarization are widening the chasm between those who travel where they please and those whose movements are restricted. but that is only part of the story. As journalist Todd Miller reveals in Empire of Borders, the nature of U.S. borders has changed. These boundaries have effectively expanded thousands of miles outside of U.S. territory to encircle not simply American land but Washington's interests. Resources, training, and agents from the United States infiltrate the Caribbean and Central America; they reach across the Canadian border; and they go even farther afield, enforcing the division between the Global South and North.

The highly publicized focus on a wall between the United States and Mexico misses the bigger picture of strengthening border enforcement around the world.

Empire of Borders is a tremendous work of narrative investigative journalism that traces the rise of this border regime. It delves into the practices of "extreme vetting," which raise the possibility of "ideological" tests and cyber-policing for migrants and visitors, a level of scrutiny that threatens fundamental freedoms and allows, once again, for America's security concerns to infringe upon the sovereign rights of other nations.

In Syria, Guatemala, Kenya, Palestine, Mexico, the Philippines, and elsewhere, Miller finds that borders aren't making the world safe–especially not in the midst of an ever-worsening climate crisis. They are, undoubtedly, the frontline in a global war against the poor.


  • Empire of Borders reveals how the United States has effectively extended its borders throughout the globe, giving rise to a worldwide enforcement network that is highly militarized and profoundly dehumanizing. At a time when more people than ever before find their lives thrust against violent lines of separation, Todd Miller helps us understand the omnipresence of borders as an imminent threat to our shared humanity - a collective sickness that must be reckoned with before it forever reshapes our world.

    Fransisco Cantu, author of The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border
  • Joining meticulous documentation and vivid on-the-ground research in multiple border hot spots around the planet, Todd Miller pulls the veil off the layers of borders and their policing that shape our world, revealing a stunning and terrifying reality. The artificiality of borders, and the commitment of the world's wealthy and powerful to preserve their wealth and power through them, have never been so clearly laid out.

    Aviva Chomsky, author of Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal
  • Todd Miller's Empire of Borders is an indispensable guide to our bunkered, barb-wired world.
    For more than a decade, well before Donald Trump landed in the White House, Miller's
    reporting has revealed the conceits of globalization, documenting the slow, steady garrisoning
    of U.S. politics behind ever more brutal border policies. Now, with Empire of Borders, he looks
    outward, to a world overrun with so many border walls it looks more like a maze than a shared
    planet. If there's a way out, Miller will find it.

    Greg Grandin, author of The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America