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Early one Monday morning, after a twelve-hour shift churning out mailing envelopes in a maquiladora—a U.S.-owned factory in Matamoros, Mexico—Carolina stands on tired legs in a line stretching toward the border with Texas. She makes it across the international bridge into downtown Brownsville in a half hour on most days. Occasionally it takes several hours, but even then it’s worth the hassle. She passes the time chatting with some of the other regulars. In Spanish, a border officer asks the reason for her visit to the United States, and Carolina offers her usual response: “to donate plasma.” After that, it’s a short walk from the bridge to one of three collection centers. The morning’s first group of donors is finishing up as she arrives and…
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