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Migration is one of the most complex and difficult challenges presently facing the United States. Migrants are entering the U.S. at record numbers, and our country is stuck in political paralysis about how to confront the issue. But a more nuanced view, one that offers potential solutions–outside of enforcement and amnesty–can be found by simply looking into the people most affected.
Only A Dream –
Each year, hundreds of thousands of Latino migrants cross the United States-Mexico border in search of work and a better life. While much of the immigration debate is framed around legality, less attention is paid to the sacrifices that migrants make while making the dangerous trek across the desert into the U.S.
Rogelio followed his sons to the U.S. in search of the American Dream but returned to Mexico to reclaim his value. This is a story about the sacrifice and loss that Rogelio and countless other Mexican migrants endure when they cross the border in search of a better life. Only A Dream was originally published on the documentary website Reframing Mexico along with an interactive game that puts users in the shoes of a migrant crossing the desert.
It is also noteworthy that Rogelio’s migration to the U.S. is reflective of a more than a century old migration pattern of Mexican migrant workers across the border. After the border was established following the U.S.-Mexico war in the 1848, the existed a migration pattern that was best described as “informal.” During World War I, U.S. industries relied on a Mexican migrant workforce. In World War II, the U.S. created a “braceros,” or guest worker, program specifically to attract needed migrant workers. Today, much of the U.S. economy still relies on migrant workers, even as states pass laws that make it difficult for the to live and work in the U.S.
The Strength to Carry On – In the absence of Comprehensive Immigration Reform, immigration agents are asked to carry out laws that have not been revisited in more than 15 years. President Barack Obama issued a directive in September 2011 calling for “prosecutorial discretion,” where prosecutors could drop cases against DREAM Act-eligible youth and noncriminals. However, as this administration deports record numbers of immigrants each year, upwards of 400,000, many noncriminals and families with children who are U.S. citizens are deported.
This video documents a church group which, when returning home from an annual celebration in April 2010, was pulled over and arrested by Border Patrol agents in Louisiana. The group, on their way back to Raleigh, NC from the Houston event, claims they were harassed by the officers, who arrested 30 of its members. Church member Mixael Cortez reflects on this incident and his deportation case as he and the rest of the church travel to Indianapolis the following year for the same celebration.
A Questionable Arrest –The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 established a program, 287g, that trained local police agencies to conduct immigration checks and hand over suspects to federal authorities. Since the program was established, in partner with a similar program called Secure Communities, it has proven to deport thousands of noncriminals for violations as small as a broken tail light. This video is one of those stories.
The morning of July 21, 2010 was to be like any other morning for Isabel Perez Nicolas–off to work one of her multiple jobs. She had never been to jail but wound up in an ICE holding cell later that day after a minor fender bender. This is the story of how Nicolas ended up in deportation proceedings as a result of the controversial Department of Homeland Security 287g program that permits local police to assume immigrations responsibilities.