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A new book about the U.S.-Mexico border is seeking to give readers an intimate look at an area of the country that has long been displayed in national media as a region dominated by border wall, immigration crises and cartel violence.

Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, a professor at George Mason University, and Sergio Chapa, a Houston-based freelance journalist, set out to traverse the entire 1,954 miles of the southern border, visiting communities on either side and documenting the entire experience in their new book, “Frontera: A Journey across the US-Mexico Border.”

The 516-page book, which was published on March 19, features over 400 pages of photographs that showcase the geography and culture of the many different communities that reside along the Rio Grande.

Correa-Cabrera and Chapa first met when she was a professor at the University of Texas at Brownsville and he was a reporter for KGBT-TV. In the summer of 2013, the two embarked on a journey along the border from Brownsville/ Matamoros to El Paso/Juarez — visiting communities on both sides of the border along the way.

Aerial view of where the storied Rio Grande empties into the Gulf of Mexico. The US side is named Boca Chica Beach, and the Mexican side is known as Playa Bagdad. (Courtesy photo)

A few months later, the two flew to El Paso and continued their journey along the border — ending in San Diego/ Tijuana.

“That was our first trip all along the border, mainly driving because those were difficult years in terms of this so-called drug war particularly on the northeastern parts of Mexico,” Correa-Cabrera recalled. “It was a difficult time.”

The duo fell in love with the culture, geography, music, and food that made each community along the border unique, so much so that they would take another trip along the border in 2019 and again in 2021 after deciding to write a book with Texas Christian University Press.

The book is divided into three sections.

Section 1 has chapters devoted to a county along the border, beginning with Cameron County, then Hidalgo County, and Starr County, and continuing all the way to El Paso-Juárez. Section 2 begins in El Paso and ends in Tijuana. Section three offers insight into trade, migration, border security, environmental issues, energy and public health on both sides of the border.

“The border is much more than just headlines about how it’s a dangerous place,” Chapa said. “It’s more than migrants, more than drug cartels, it’s much more than that. I mean, we’re talking about billions of dollars of commerce. Mexico is now the largest trading partner for the United States, surpassing China. But more importantly, it has a rich culture, wonderful cuisine and warm, welcoming people.”

The street is full of performers and families attending the event Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023, for the annual Baile Del Sol outside Charro Days Inc. headquarters on Elizabeth Street. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

“We knew that the border is not just about immigration, undocumented immigration and the drug war or the fentanyl crisis now, or the cartels,” Correa-Cabrera said. “The border is much more. It’s about culture, music, food, and lot of things that we experience. We were fascinated that we’re different in different parts of the border. Even the margaritas taste different, if you compare them.”

Correa-Cabrera said that she hopes to present readers with the reality of what the border is really like, especially given the onslaught of media coverage and political rhetoric that may not accurately depict life on the border.

“We want to have an impact on the narrative,” Correa-Cabrera said. “The border is utilized and weaponized, and used for political and electoral purposes. The negative perception of (the border) has been constructed. It is utilized by people who don’t live by the border, by politicians who usually come from up north. They decide policy from Washington D.C. — the same thing with regards to Mexico. We wanted to write a book that shows the border from both sides.”

Frontera is available for purchase online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and