This film traces the fight of 29 parents who traveled north to Tijuana, Mexico in March 2019, hoping to claim asylum and reunite with their children. The U.S. government had separated these parents from their children along with hundreds of other families at the border trying to claim asylum as part of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy.
The film focus on two parents – Nery and “Maria” – each determined to see their children again.
In May 2019, Nery and his teenage son fled Guatemala after being threatened and attacked over their support for a local politician. They traveled north through Mexico across the U.S. border, where the two presented themselves to immigration officials hoping to seek asylum. What they didn’t know was they’d arrived during the height of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, and after three days, the two were separated in an immigration holding center. A month later, Nery was deported back to Guatemala without his son, who was placed in a shelter in New York.
Meanwhile, “Maria” fled violence and threats in El Salvador, bringing her 13-year-old daughter north with her to what she hoped would be safety. After crossing the border, the two were separated on Christmas Day in 2017.
“They took away our kids as if they weren’t ours,” she said. “Shackled our hands, feet, and waist as if we were criminals and snatched away our kids without mercy or compassion.”
During her initial interview with immigration officials, she says one laughed, turned to the others, and said, “Fuck these Salvadorans.”
Nery and Maria are members of a group of around over 1,500 families who were separated from their children and then deported to their home countries without those children beginning in late 2017. For weeks, these parents and their families — 54 people in total — waited in a hotel in Tijuana under the watchful eye of Al Otro Lado, a legal services organization based in Los Angeles. All had harrowing tales of violence and persecution they had suffered in their home countries as well as abuse at the hands of immigration officials at the U.S. border.