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The thrilling narrative of an unlikely friendship and a Guatemalan migrant-hacker’s journey, revealing the chaos and cruelty U.S. immigration policies have unleashed even beyond our borders

In 2015, several years before migrant caravans were making headlines, Levi Vonk, a young anthropologist and journalist, went to Mexico to live and work with migrants, in defiance of the conservative politics of his Southern hometown. There he made a friend who would change the course of his life—and quite possibly the course of Mexican history along with it.

Axel Kirschner was a lifelong New Yorker, all Queens hustle and bravado, having been brought to the U.S from Guatemala at only a year old.  But he was also undocumented. When he met Levi in Mexico in 2015, after being deported for a minor traffic violation, Axel was fighting to get home to his young kids in Queens. While on its surface, Axel’s story is an archetypal one, Vonk soon discovered that he was harboring a secret: Axel was a hacker. This secret would launch the two friends on a dangerous adventure far beyond what either of them could have imagined when they first met on the caravan. While Axel’s abilities gave him an edge in a system that denied his existence, they would also ensnare him in a tangled underground network of human traffickers, corrupt priests, and anti-government guerillas eager to exploit his talents for their own ends.

Border Hacker is at once an adventure saga—the story of a man who will do anything to return to his family and the friend who will do anything to help him—and a deeper parable about the violence of US immigration policy as shot through a single, extraordinary life.

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