This past week I had the pleasure to go and watch a documentary produced by one of the professors here at DU. The documentary covered the struggles of Hispanic immigrants and their journey to the United states as well as their struggles once arriving to the border. The documentary did not try to hide any of the cruelties that the travelers encountered along the way, so I believe the documentary really left an impacting impression on me about our country’s current situation regarding immigration.
Through this documentary, I definitely became socially more aware of the complexity of immigration and some of the root causes of the issue starting from The National American Free Trade Agreement to the sweatshops along the United States and Mexico border. I thought it was so strange how the U.S. has maquiladoras (U.S. companies south of the border) to attract free labor. I was frustrated by this because America is complaining about immigrants, and yet we are providing them incentive to come work for us, and it’s not like the maquiladoras pay much either. Imagine receiving hardly anything for your hard day of work and then knowing a few miles a way a teenage is working at some fast food restaurant making double what you are making, and knowing you have a family back home that is hungry. I would say that is plenty of incentive to cross the border—I know I would.
This documentary also hit on the usually avoided topic of the cruelty inflicted upon the immigrants by the border control. The video clips shown were horrific; border control ganging up on one immigrant and beating him up; plain and simple these were terrible terrible acts that our border control were inflicting upon the Hispanic immigrants. There was a statistic that stated “every 4 days, 5 people die on the border due to border control”. Why isn’t this on any news channels? I understand border control has a job and the intention of their job is to keep America safe, but that does not mean treating non U.S citizens like they have no human rights and don’t deserve to live. Luckily, there have been many humanitarian groups trying to aid these travelers by laying out jugs of water in the desert; however, there are instances where the border control finds these jugs of water and dumps them out. For me, that did not sit right. I believe every human being has a right to food and water regardless of their citizenship status.
This documentary helped me grow both in social wellness and multicultural wellness. Socially, I learned that the phrase illegal immigrants is not very appropriate and further provides a negative connotation to immigrants. Multiculturally, I gained a new perspective about the immigration problem the U.S. is having. The documentary showed me the perspective of the immigrants, and also made me realize that none of these travelers want to leave their country—they do it because the conditions they are living in are horrific. Hispanic immigrants go through so many challenges to try to reach the border such as being prayed on by gangsters through central America and Mexico. Then once arriving to the border they have to worry about being killed by border control, and then if they make it into America, they always have the fear of being caught, and also have to find a job. It is a big risk for someone to take, so that shows how dire their situation back home is. We need to remember or become aware of the fact that the people crossing over the border are not all evil drug dealers. They are people who are looking to create a life for themselves and their families, a place to take refuge in, and a place with opportunities. If we can remember this, then I believe we will be able to better approach the problem America is having with immigration.
Written by Cassidy Knipp, WLLC 2015-2016