Created Equal: New book explores the complicated practice of migrant smuggling

Author and anthropologist Jason De León joined the show to discuss his new book and the many issues exacerbating immigration challenges in the U.S.

"Soldiers and Kings: Survival and Hope in the World of Human Smuggling" by Jason De León.

"Soldiers and Kings: Survival and Hope in the World of Human Smuggling" by Jason De León.

Author and anthropologist Jason De León spent seven years documenting the lives of “coyotes,” or smugglers who help migrants leave their homes and head for America. 

His new book “Soldiers and Kings: Survival and Hope in the World of Human Smuggling” challenges readers to reconsider how one labels a “good” or “bad” actor. His work also highlights the need to consider the role of smugglers — a criminal one in almost any regard — in the context of our immigration challenges.  

De León joined Stephen Henderson on Created Equal Tuesday to discuss the book, and how political instability, poverty, climate change and other contributing factors are exacerbating those challenges.

Subscribe to Created Equal on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle or wherever you get your podcasts.


Jason De León is an anthropologist, author and professor of anthropology and Chicana, Chicano, and Central American studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. He believes we need to re-conceptualize how we see smugglers.

“[Smugglers are] really a symptom of this much bigger problem of migration, of capitalism. They are responding to changes in border enforcement. And at the end of the day, they are providing a service to people who really need it,” he said.

Listen to Created Equal with host Stephen Henderson weekdays from 9-10 a.m. ET on 101.9 WDET and streaming on-demand.

Trusted, accurate, up-to-date.

WDET strives to make our journalism accessible to everyone. As a public media institution, we maintain our journalistic integrity through independent support from readers like you. If you value WDET as your source of news, music and conversation, please make a gift today.

Donate today »