Wetback

Wetback: The Undocumented Documentary is Director Arturo Perez Torres’s award-winning documentary about undocumented workers.  It chronicles the life-and-death journeys of Central American and Mexican migrants as they enter the United States without going through proper immigration channels. The subjects’ first-person perspective sheds light on individual motivations for the trek and the hazards encountered on their way to the American dream. Following migrants from Central America on their journey to the United States, Wetback provides startling insight into the dangerous risks that are faced even before reaching the U.S./Mexico border. Beginning in Honduras, the documentary follows a set of young men as they leave their homes and families and in revealing the greater challenges then encounter in each new country. You get a first-hand look at why and how they make this journey. Danger from the authorities is everywhere. Quite amazing how they got this footage. No re-enactments, all real, very insightful, showing the human side of these people who are often outcast once they finally reach America! The film sheds light on the terror some Mexicans (from police to gangs) create for outsiders trying to find their way north. The movie is at its best in traveling alongside the migrants over the course of their journey. This documentary does an excellent job of showing the incredible hardships endured by those who seek to enter the U.S. illegally. It puts a human face on those who try to come to America to seek a better life. In that respect it is very much a pro-illegal immigrant documentary. Although it shows a little bit about the U.S. Border Patrol and the Minute Men (called vigilantes in the film) the primary focus is on the illegals and those who support them. I found the interviews with the Catholic priest very interesting as well as the fact that the Catholic Church provides sanctuary houses for those on their way to sneak into the U.S. There is also a segment about the “Train of Death” in Mexico that illegals jump on to ride north. There are so many serious injuries that there is even a clinic for train victims who loose their legs when they get sucked underneath the train. You can’t watch this film without feeling genuinely sorry for these poor people. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t balance this stuff with very much coverage of drug smugglers, Latino gang activity or the impact of groups like “La Raza” in the United States. If you support illegal immigration you’ll love this film. If you don’t, you should still see it. If you struggle with where you stand on this issue you should see this. The documentary doesn’t take sides but rather explores both ends of the spectrum. In the end these are real people with real problems who strive for a piece of the American Dream. Documentary 2005 NR 90 minutes.

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