Americans risk it all to stand up to inhumane immigration policies in Borderlands, a new feature-length documentary by Skylight. A powerful set of stories of “righteous persons” taking action along the U.S.-Mexico border, motivated by moral conviction and compassion. Borderlands shows how courageous actions can lead to political mobilization and the defense of human rights in the face of hate and discrimination.
The past is present
Immigration has exploded as it drives the national debate about who we are as a nation. Trump continues to blare out his calls against an “invasion,” categorizes refugees as “criminals,” fires people up to “build that wall,” and inspires armed killers massacring migrants. Meanwhile security forces, including the U.S. Army, are sent to the border, wreaking havoc on the traditional bi-national culture and forcing thousands of migrants to cross through the most deadly parts of the Sonoran desert. Trump’s constant threats to close the southern border and cut off aid to Central American countries have only sharpened the crisis especially in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador as more and more people flee their countries in order to survive.
Political violence of the past–the legacy of U.S.-backed military dictatorships that sent waves of families seeking safety to the country the 1980s.–has morphed into narco violence today, sending new waves of immigrants seeking asylum in the U.S.
Resistance at the border
News coverage and analysis of the Trump administration’s so called “zero tolerance” policies has focused on the shocking numbers of children separated from parents and family members, the heartbreak of children who have died in U.S. custody, increased restrictions for those seeking asylum, the limiting of social services available to legal immigrants as a means of deterring future immigration by people not ‘self-sufficient’, and the horrific link between Trump’s rhetoric and its influence on the perpetrator of the largest mass murder of Latinos in the U.S. in modern history.
But what about resistance? What about the individual Americans and communities who live by the moral imperative of treating migrants and refugees with compassion and acting on their convictions, finding creative ways to defy the U.S. government’s official and inhumane policies that violate human rights?
Borderlands will tell their stories at a time when new polls show broad public support for treating immigrants with dignity and increasing the circumstances under which immigrants from Central America can seek asylum and enter the United States legally. The film will also help us understand the plight of migrants fleeing undeclared violent wars, leaving their homes and everything they know, in a desperate exodus for survival.
Borderlands is a natural extension of Skylight’s epic Guatemalan saga that highlights long-term resistance in the face of corruption, greed, abusive power and violent backlash from the forces of impunity. We have an extensive film archive to build the context of the past and make sense of the present.
We will create a fast-paced, tense story that builds to a climax as each story contributes to a mosaic suggestive of the unknown totality of Americans defying their government and engaging in civil disobedience to do so.