I started with Sin Nombre. This Spanish language movie is about the South American immigrants that ride on the top of freight trains for a chance to cross the border into America. It follows two stories, Casper and Sayra. Casper is a young gang member who, out of revenge and anger makes a split decision that now makes him the enemy of his gang. His only choice is to run and his only option is the train.
Sayra is a Hondurian girl whose father has returned from the States to take her back with him to live with his new family in New Jersey. They ride the train from Honduras through Mexico in hopes of reaching the American border.
As you can imagine this is a very treacherous journey full of unexpected events. Neither traveler is prepared for the dangers that await them and neither is the viewer. Since I had never heard of these “train riders”, the desperate people willing to sacrifice almost anything for a chance to reach their dream of a better life in the U.S., I wasn’t prepared all the twists, turns and hard truths. There were multiple shocking and rather upsetting moments as they fight to survive this trip. This story has a truth and depth to it that will cause even callous viewers to reflect on the blessing it is a to be an American.
After seeing Sin Nombre, my interest was pequed at the truth of that story. Therefore, I was so excited to see the documentary Which Way Home. Not only does this documentary follow these train riding immigrants, it specifically follows the children that are making this dangerous journey on their own. Some of these kids have been abandoned by their parents, so they have set out to find them in America. Some of these kids are willingly sent off by their parents to try and survive this journey on their own, in hopes of making a life in America. Some of these kids run away against their parents wishes to live out their dreams of all the hope that America holds. Either way, all of these children, ranging in age from 9 to 17, are traveling alone. These kids have one thing in common, their idealistic hopes of the life that awaits them in the U.S. They have dreams of being adopted or finding work. They have dreams of finding their long lost parent or sibling(some of which haven’t seen their parents in years). They are sure that they are going to make a life for themselves.
I was shocked by this movie. I cried in this movie. My eyes were opened from this movie. I wanted to do something for the poor kids in this movie. It is one thing to watch a fictional story, like Sin Nombre, and it is another to see the actual children in that reality.
To keep up with the theme the last movie I watched was Entre Nos. This is a touching movie about a Hispanic women that is abandoned by her husband only 2 weeks after immigrating to America. Now alone in this country where she doesn’t speak the language she is forced to support her children any way she can. What I liked about this movie was that is was a different view of the same theme. It shows her desperation and the truth of the struggle in her new reality. It really made me think about what I would do if I was in this situation. How would I feed my kids? What if I had no one to turn to for help? It was made but her daughter to honor this brave women and the sacrifices she made.
All together these were powerful movies. So powerful in fact, it made me really reflect on immigration. It gave me a whole new perspective of immigrants. It made me value more the rights I have always had. I’m not trying to get political, and my opinion on immigration has always been quite liberal, but these are movies that every American should watch before they draw their political lines. These movies put faces to the people our laws will effect. These movies can actually change lives.