There is a war on immigrants being waged every day in our country, and not just along the southern border – we have become a Borderland, the border is everywhere and within every immigrant. A massive surveillance, militarized and carceral apparatus has been built to capture, detain and deport millions of immigrants. And it will only get worse if Trump becomes president again and implements the policies outlined in the Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025, a roadmap for authoritarian rule that includes mass deportation of immigrants, regardless of documentation status. This war on immigrants is a travesty and we need to shift public opinion to support a movement for immigration reform that values the human rights and aspirations of immigrants, and the economic and cultural contributions they bring to our society. The protagonists of Borderland | The Line Within, all immigrants themselves, express these values while exposing the border industrial complex that provides the scaffolding for the war on immigrants.


BORDERLAND l The Line Within is a critique of my country’s inhumane treatment of people arriving in the U.S. It’s about the use of immigration as a gateway to fascist ideology and political power. I’ve been making films internationally for the past 20 years but feel it is important to have a critique of my own country now. I searched among Americans finding creative ways to resist the cruelty of our immigration policies, but instead I found a dynamic movement growing among undocumented immigrants to organize, educate themselves, demand their rights and become a force. Weaving the story together by scraping the web and invoking the Freedom of Information Act, I chose a trio of experimental digital humanists artfully exposing the business of immigration, a multibillion-dollar system to stop people from crossing the border, incarcerate them and deport them. Making this film would take 5 years.

Never has my work as a human rights defender and documentary filmmaker come together so closely nor been so demanding. Never had I had to depend so strongly on the collaboration of the protagonists in telling their stories. For example, when Kaxh Mura’l an environmental defender of the Maya-Ixil ancestral lands was threatened with death for his activism, he fled his homeland Guatemala and began the dangerous journey to seek asylum in the U.S. Since he was in my previous film, “500 Years”, he contacted me upon leaving so of course I was going to do what I could to help him. He’s a beautiful writer and an important leader.  Together we would tell his story.

When Kaxh arrived in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico,I got him a pro bono lawyer just across the border in El Paso who could travel back and forth and represent him. I acted as a kind of paralegal to the lawyer Carlos Spector, doing research, gathering documentation, creating briefs to argue the case in court, and writing an affidavit for Kaxh as well as his traveling companion Francisco.  Together we formed a circle of solidarity made up of Carlos, Giovanni Batz, a PhD in social anthropology, church supporters, and humanitarian aid people working in the El Paso/Juárez corridor. We’d meet weekly to move Kaxh and Francisco’s cases forward and provide for their needs. I knew I had to be completely transparent about my involvement, how the filmmaker helped shape the story. I did it through sparse narration, and Kaxh’s harrowing WhatsApp voice messaging back and forth with me. We laid bare the process of making the film, which is another interesting facet of the film itself.

BORDERLAND would be connected to The Resistance Saga, the trilogy of films about Guatemala that I had made over the past 35 years, but it would take place in the U.S.

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