Border Wars

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Border Wars TV Poster Image
Homeland Security docu deals with danger, drugs, more.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The series -- which essentially functions as a promotional vehicle for Homeland Security -- highlights the amount of work and danger associated with protecting U.S. borders and controlling the entrance of illegal drugs, weapons, and immigrants.

Positive Role Models & Representations

On the up side, the customs officers are committed to protecting U.S. borders. On the downside, there's some subtle racial stereotyping.


Weapons smuggling is a major concern for federal agents. Agents are shown with rifles and automatic weapons drawn during their patrols. Discussions about agents being shot and/or murdered. Agents claim that many illegal immigrants have criminal records; comments are often made about illegal immigrants' fears of retaliation if they reveal information about their border guide and/or if they're returned to Mexico.


Agents say that every year thousands of young girls are kidnapped from Mexico, smuggled across the border, and forced into prostitution in the United States.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drug smuggling is a major theme of the show. Packages of illegally smuggled drugs -- including heroin and marijuana -- are visible.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that although this reality series about U.S. federal border control officers makes efforts to be objective, there's some bias in the way it presents and promotes the efforts of the Homeland Security agency. There's also some subtle racial stereotyping, and overall the content is definitely on the edgy side for kids: Drug and weapon smuggling, human trafficking, and terrorism are major themes, and guns and packages of illegal drugs are clearly visible. Weapons are drawn during ground patrols, and officers talk about past incidents of people being shot and/or killed.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byskipthisad April 23, 2011

Review is unfair and biased about illegal immigration; very good show

The show covers mature themes, including the drug trade (the cartels, their violence, and the specific types of drugs they smuggle, inclucing heroin) and the po... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old June 27, 2013

Great, but not for kids...

A lot of drugs, and mild language I guess... But the show is great.And a positive message is proves that drug dealing gets you nowhere in life but jail! And the... Continue reading

What's the story?

BORDER WARS documents the work of the Homeland Security agency as it attempts to maintain control over the U.S. side of the 21-mile border between Mexico and Nogales, Ariz., which is considered to be the epicenter of illegal border activities. Each episode follows federal agents and officers on the ground and in the air for 24 hours as they try to intercept drug smugglers, weapons dealers, and human traffickers before they make it across the border. Officers are also called upon to rescue undocumented individuals when they get sick and/or lost in the Sonora Desert during their attempts to cross into the United States.

Is it any good?

This reality docuseries attempts to be objective by highlighting the hard and often dangerous work associated with protecting U.S. borders. But you can also sense that it's a promotional vehicle for Homeland Security, which has been heavily criticized in the past for racially profiling suspects and for being largely ineffective. Border control officers are quick to justify their searches of specific vehicles and their drivers, while agents who are arresting illegal immigrants (the majority of whom are of Latino heritage) continually remind viewers that many of them have criminal records.

Some viewers may have a hard time with some of the procedures and characterizations pertaining to undocumented persons. But overall Border Wars does a good job of capturing the real dangers that federal agents and officers face when they're doing their job. No matter what you might think about the politics driving government policy, it's hard to dismiss the commitment of the men and women working to ensure the country's safety.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the media is used to promote political agendas. Do you think that's appropriate and/or ethical? Do you think any of that is taking place here, or is it just another "dangerous jobs" reality show?

  • How does the media handle the issue of immigration? Do you think race/ethnicity/stereotyping factors into this coverage? If so, how?

  • What's the show's overall message? Do you think it's objective?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love reality TV

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate