Border Film Transcript

Border Documentary: In the Shadows Transcript 

(peaceful guitar music) 

(Jairo, Undocumented immigrant farm worker, assisting with calve birth) 


We call this instrument a winch.  This device helps the cow to give birth to “el bambino”. 

This powder works as a lubricant. It makes it easier for the cow. 

(the cow moos) 

It’s another bull!  Sometimes we have to assist the cows… 

that have problems giving birth.  Otherwise the calf could die if we waited for another 20 to 30 minutes. 



A lot of strength is needed to save the calf.  He is okay, and the mother will be up in the next 10 minutes.  This is what we usually have to do to help the cows.  It takes a lot of strength!  Sometimes it is very hard.  Sometimes it takes up to 40 minutes.  And when the calves are bigger it takes longer than 45 minutes.  But sometimes it only takes 15 minutes tops.   

Ok, let’s try to help the cow to stand up So, this is my job.  Like someone said, it’s a labor of love… my job.  That’s my commitment to this job.  Oh perfect! Not much trouble. 

(lively guitar music) 



I’m from Nohbec, Quintana Roo.  From the Mayan Region It’s one of the last states, it borders on Guatemala.  I am 32 years old.  I’m very old. 


In Mexico my work used to involve buying and selling wood…for the construction of piers and other naval projects.  Back then I was doing well working with a contractor.  I used to sell a lot of wood to him.  Until he got into a lot of problems and his business went down.  He was my major client so I was affected by his losses.  I made most of my income with him to save money toward my house.  When I arrived the first time… I didn’t know what kind of job I would have at first.  The only thing that I had in mind… 

was to find a job in order for me to send money to Mexico.  I came without a plan.  I wasn’t expecting to find a job that I would like.  In fact, I never had work on a farm with cows before.  The only goal that we have when we arrive here is to get jobs.  I had the opportunity to work here.  And I thought to myself that I will learn the job and do it.  And little by little I learned.  At least 50-60% of what needs to be done on a farm I have learned. 

(Carmen Mercer, Tucson Director, Minuteman Civil Defense Corp) 

– My name is Carmen Mercer, and I am the Vice President of the Minuteman Corporation.  I’m also a legal citizen of the United States.  I was born and raised in Germany, and I came to the United States in the ’70s where I obtained my legal worker’s permit, then in 1999, I decided to become a citizen because I felt the importance to vote and to make a difference in my country.  The reason why I got interested in the Minuteman Organization about four years ago, Chris Simcox and I, and a handful of people created 

a Neighborhood Watch because after 9/11, the President told us to be vigilant and to report any suspicious activity, and that’s exactly what we did.  We wanted to hold our government accountable for not doing their job of securing the border. 

(Ferenc Nagy, Hungarian immigrant, Humane Borders volunteer) 

– I came to the United States in 1956 as an immigrant from Hungary. I got involved with the Humane Borders because when I left Hungary, I had to walk 50 miles through the middle of winter and it was pretty bad. Some people helped me and I felt that it’s my time to give it back to others, what they had done for me. 

So that’s why I’m here, that’s one of the main reasons.  The other reason is I feel that the U.S. border should be the same as the E.U. There is no reason in the world why we can’t have an open border and have the people moving back and forth. I know the first year, it’s gonna be a little rough because the labor force is gonna be increased but eventually it will level off, and it will be better for everybody. 

(U.S. Congressman James Sensenbrenner) 

– I tried to offer an amendment when the bill was on the floor to reduce the felony charge to a misdemeanor, and it was voted down by a combination of people who, I guess, want to execute all of the 11 million people like Mr. Tancredo, and people who wanted to pay political games in it. 

(Al Rodriguez, Retired Colonel U.S. Army) 

– American and Hispanic community, are standing up against illegal immigration, standing up for secure borders, and standing up for all markers who were shocked and angry about the mass demonstrations of illegal toward demanding, not asking, demanding, rights that they do not even have a right to demand! 

(Dr. Julio Cammarata, Professor, University of AZ)

– Dolores Huerta came to our Pueblo just recently, a couple of days ago, and she spoke to our students at Tucson High School.  In her opening comments, she looked at them directly and said, “This is a new civil rights movement. “And you are in the lead.”  Those were powerful words.  

(Pro-immigrant activist) 

– Thank you very much my people. Can we do it? 

(crowd cheering) 

Yes, we can! 

– Can we do it? 

(crowd cheering)  

Yes, we can! 

– Can we do it? 

(crowd cheering) 

Yes, we can! 

– So, we can do it, right? 

– Latinos, Latino immigrants, do they take jobs away from poor African-Americans? 


(Ted Hayes, Activist for the homeless) 

– As a homeless activist, 

I’m calling on all homeless organizations, social service agencies, activists, and advocates throughout the United States of America to join with me, as a homeless activist, to end this illegal immigration invasion of our nation.  As a homeless activist, I cannot, we cannot effectively get our people off of these streets and into a productive lifestyle in this country as long as our resources are used up, and the time of our congress is spent on trying to resolve Mexico’s problems.  We must, first of all, resolve our own. 

(audience claps) 

Finally, one good thing about this illegal invasion. America, white and black has been wounded for a long time, we’ve been suffering.  We had a chance in ’64 to heal but we got hijacked by Jesse (Jackson) and all those crooks and thieves.  I believe this invasion is causing black and white people in this country, most particularly, to come together like we’ve never come together before.  And we are going to heal, finally at last, we’re gonna heal of this thing, and we’re gonna show what it means to be American.  

It doesn’t matter what color you are, black, white, brown, red, or blue, if you hear my voice, check this out.  No matter what color you are, whether you’re black, white, brown, red, or yellow, you are actually red, white, and blue, and listen up. 

(Waving American Flag) 

These colors do not run! 

(audience claps)  

God bless you. 

(Congressman James Sensenbrenner) 

– There are projections that if we don’t do something that is effective, we’ll have 20 million more (immigrants) in the next 10 years. They will overcrowd our schools, they will cause the health care to collapse because very few of these people have any type of health insurance which means that there is a cause shift from those who don’t pay to those who do pay, and it will cause big tax increases to provide the social services to these people when they are in our country 

So, we’ve gotta do it right, and what we’ve gotta do is, first, secure the borders, then we have to enforce the employer sanctions law as it is written, and that includes higher fines which my bill proposes as well as a mandatory internet verification of social security numbers, which is also proposed in my bill, and once we do that, then we should talk about what to do about the illegal immigrants that are already here. 

(Dr. Julio Cammarota, MECH 

– They’re not gonna drive us into the shadows, they’re not gonna drive us into the alleys, and I guarantee you that the culture of humanity, the culture of love will always, always kick the crap out of the cultural hate. Thank you.  

(audience applauses) 

(Isabel Garcia, Derechos Humanos) 

– Mexicanos faced the most massive buildup in enforcement that you can imagine, and it’s in the border, not with Canada but with Mexico. We face the vast majority of all deportations even though we represent less than half of the undocumented population. We represent over 85 (percent) of all the deportations, and on and on. There are distinctions that are noticeable, yet we share a lot in common with immigrants from all over the world. 

(Jairo, migrant farm worker)  

(birds chirping) 


From Altar, Sonora, we moved to the desert and depending on how many of us there are, they put us in a car or bus. They drove us into the Sonora desert for 2 hours. Then we walked. We didn’t find any immigration patrol to get in trouble with. The only thing is that we ran out of water.  Because it was our first-time crossing… we didn’t know what to bring with us.  

After 2 days we got to the place where we were picked up. And from over there to Tucson. We’d been told that a car would pick us up and take us to Tucson. We were tired and afraid… afraid of being caught. And then a van showed up. Up to 20 of us were in the van, very, very tight. We got into Tucson after one hour and 20 minutes. 

We arrived at a house where we showered and cleaned up. And we jumped into a different truck that took us to Phoenix. Where we got together with the other half of our group. By then we were more relaxed because… the most dangerous part of our journey was behind us. They separated us based on what state we were going to. Again, we jumped into a vehicle and headed up to the north. It took us 5 hours to get to Oklahoma.  We dropped people off in Atlanta and North Carolina. 

(Chris Simcox, President, Minuteman Civil Defense Corp) 

And another thing, by the way, that is, President Bush read my lips, secure the border. 

(audience applauses) 

(Don Goldwater, AZ Gubernatorial hopeful candidate) 

And the illegal aliens that we capture. It’s my intention to put ’em down here in a tent city along the border, and force them to build the wall. 

(audience cheering and applause drown speaker). 

(Isabel Garcia, Derechos Humanos) 

The other thing is, of course, we are on old Mexican territory, so we’re contiguous with the country of Mexico.  And, for the past 100 years, we have actively encouraged unlawful migration into this country in order to build our economy, we continue to do so. So, in that context, of course, we are similar to all the other immigrants but yet, different from all other immigrants. 

We share the same pattern of repression and discrimination that the Italians did and others did historically but what we see now, of course, is the changing of the complexion of the United States, and that’s what a lot of the people are whipped up into fearing. So as a result, we’re seeing massive movement or, at least, coordinated movement by some to legalize discrimination, legalize abuse against Mexicans in particular, because the bottom line is that we have encouraged, over 100 years, the migration pattern that we see today. 

It’s not something new, and we continue to exacerbate it with neo- liberal economic policy such as NAFTA that has certainly not been an answer to migration. In fact, it has exacerbated the problem. 

(TJ Bonner, President, order PatU.S. Brol) 

As long as you have this huge disparity between countries all across the world, not just Mexico which happens to be our closest geographic neighbor, and we’re willing to employ people and turn a blind eye to the fact that people are breaking our immigration laws and they’ll continue to come across by the millions. 

(Carmen Mercer, Director Tucson, Minuteman Civil Defense Corps)  

The border patrol checkpoint was closed, so today it’s going to be very easy for illegal aliens to get through here because there’s nobody there to stop them. But normally, when the border patrol checkpoint is open and they’re doing their controls, the illegal aliens would come through Tombstone and they would be dropped off, then they would go behind, come out this road, cut through here, then detour the border patrol checkpoint and come out about another three miles further down, and get picked up again and taken to Tucson or Phoenix.  

So, it is actually a joke, we have a border patrol checkpoint here, why is it not open every day? It should be manned 24 hours a day. They’re employing these people and paying them under the table, these people have no rights, they have no benefits, and they’re claiming because the American people do not want to do their jobs, that’s why they’re here, because they’re the people who will do these jobs. But it really boils down to if the American people, if the people of the United States of America were paid a living wage, they would be doing these jobs. 


(lively guitar music) 

(Laurentino, undocumented migrant farm worker) 


I took the bus to Mexico City. The bus passed through Monterrey, then through Roma, until we got to the border of Texas. We were always with a smuggler. We crossed the river in a boat. Swimming was impossible because we carried food, clothes… and water with us. We could have walked, but it’s better by boat. We got to Valparaiso, where there is an immigration checkpoint. From there we went all the way up to Houston with a smuggler. Houston, Texas. From Houston we went to Atlanta, Atlanta to Michigan 

This is the route that I took. It was a long road. Once you decide to come here, you do whatever it takes. 

(lively guitar music) 

One of the problems that illegals face when crossing the border… are the smugglers…they take your money away. You can call your boss to wire some money to you. So, you can come back to your job. But sometimes they say no. We can’t make it. Is very difficult to deal with the smugglers. 

(Jairo, illegal immigrant)  


The last time I crossed the border, the dangers that I faced were from thieves. They will take everything you have. All of a sudden, we saw 6 men wearing masks and holding guns. They called us over, and we said to each other, “These are thieves!” We panicked as they threw us down into a ditch.  We were lying face down. They searched us and said they wouldn’t hurt us, they just wanted the money.  Some people knew of this danger… So, they hid their money in their sleeves and in their shoes. 

The thieves found money hidden in one man’s jacket. They asked “what is this?” He said “I don’t know!” They ripped off his sleeve and beat him up. I wasn’t going to wait for them to start hitting me. I took out my wallet and showed them that I had 700 pesos. I told them to take the money, so it wasn’t a major incident. They gave me back my wallet. That’s the dangerous part of crossing… the thieves. 

(mellow guitar music) 

(German, Jairo’s Brother, migrant farm worker) 


We suffer a lot to cross to this side. Imagine, when I came… I was sent back 3 times. I spent Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday… without food or water. It seemed like the end. It seemed like I was not going to survive.  But, thank God I did. 

(Reverend Robin Hoover, PhD, President, Humane Borders) 

You might have your own selfish political interest that make you pro or anti-immigrant. The question, all this goes to the what kind of a question, what kind of a nation do we wanna be. 

– There’s a lot that you can learn from this map. One is that the border is very, very porous. There’s a phenomenal number of deaths out here. There were over 224 shown on this map, but there were something like 279 officially died in 2005, so it gets more each year. Each year you can see the same pattern of death occurs in each one of these corridors. We have projected onto this, the migrant deaths from 2004 represented by these various colored circles.  

The legend for this map will tell you what each circle means. Most of them are red which means exposure death, the blue ones are cold, there are actually some drownings in irrigation canals. There have been some homicides and so forth. We use this map to find out where to place water stations because we need to place them where the need is the greatest. 

(Jairo, Mexican immigrant) 


My plan is to save some money so that by the time I go back to Mexico I can open a small shop. The idea is to own a business and use my daily income to support my family. 

(lively guitar music) 

(Suemi,) Jairo’s wife in Mexico at the home they are building) 


So far, we have one room done.  The construction is still going on little by little.  The construction began three years ago. We want to do another room. So far, we have the living room, kitchen, and the porch. Little by little we will finish. We can’t do everything at once. 

(Jairo, Mexican Father) 


The reason I am away from my kids…is to be able to pay for their education so, one day they can have a career. The purpose of my life is to educate my kids… so that they can be professionals one day in Mexico. 

(Jairo and Jair, Jairo’s Boys in Mexico) 


When are you going to send money? 



My family has been affected a lot.  My oldest son is too close to me. He’s 5 years old. He is very sad that I’m gone, and he isn’t doing well in kindergarten. Because of this situation, I call my son every two days to keep his spirits up. I tell him I am always with him, that I love him… that the distance doesn’t matter. 

Jair, Jairo’s Son in Mexico) 


Jairo is misbehaving. His grades are low. 


That’s not true! 

(TJ Bonner, President, U.S. Border Patrol) 

Right now, you can go to any major city, for about 100 bucks, buy a phony ID and social security card. 

Charlie, dairy farm owner) 

We get their social security number, their social security card. That get sent in, and we often get letters back in the mail that say, “This number does not fit the system. “Do you know any reason why it wouldn’t fit the system?” It more or less says that. But all through the letter, they strongly caution you that if you fire this person because you received this letter that is illegal.  

To the credit of social security, they’re trying to do their job but they’re also letting you know that they don’t want any discrimination just ’cause you get this letter, just because you received this letter stating that there’s a problem with the social security number. And after you get that first letter, you might get another one each year, but that’s about it. 

(Charlie, farm owner) 

Get this on film. Watch it. 


That was a big one! 

(dog catches a rat) 

[Voice over] Good dog! Wow, good Sydney! Good! Alright, Syd, there’s another one! 

(Jairo, Mexican immigrant) 


My boss told me “I need Jairo to be responsible for the milking.” Ooh! It’s a lot of responsibility. Because Jairo doesn’t know everything yet. But my brother told me… step by step how each thing is done, and I did it easily in two days. I think I don’t have much intelligence, but I have used it a lot! I’ve been climbing steps little by little to higher responsibilities here. 

When my boss told me, “Jairo, learn to feed the cows,”… It’s a lot of responsibility. Ooh! I like trucks and tractors. I tell myself it’s a good opportunity. I encourage myself to do it well. It’s easy for me because I know all the jobs here. That’s where I stand. I think Jairo has a lot of responsibilities in the farm. That is very important for me.   

I thank my patrons for giving me the chance to work my way up. I hope to learn something new…because there is always more to learn. I’m very happy with my work! Each time I try to learn a new job, I do my best. In that way, it will be easier for me if I learn quickly. 

(Charlie, farmer) 

So, Jairo was excited, he had some experience driving trucks and he’s sharp with numbers. Andy, our main guy, that is the feed manager, trained him and he’s really done a fine job, and keeps up with his responsibilities out there. We’re very impressed with his work.  

So, his status, it’s interesting how his status on the farm with the other workers, with Americans or the gringos, how his status has changed. So now he’s looked on as more of an equal now that he’s doing this higher-level work or the work that they all understand as very important. Most of them, either are not able or do not want that job because of the responsibility. You’re under a lot of time restrictions. The cows all have to be fed in a certain amount of time, you only have so much time. It’s a high-stress job and he’s taken it, and done very well, so we’re very pleased with that aspect. 

(Jairo, migrant farm worker) 


This truck is used to distribute the feed at the stables. I need to mix…more ingredients from the silos. It is a very important step in the food preparation. I like my job feeding the cows. Listening to some music. 

(lively guitar music) 

Perfect! We are finished putting all the food together. Now I have to mix it all up and tell the cows that the food is ready. I’m happy and I like my job.  I think that it is very important to do something that you like to do. Working over here is a lot of fun! 

(Reverend Robin Hoover) 

The very first thing that we need to do as a principle of social justice is to provide a legal status for the people who are already here in the United States, who are living undocumented lives that have been here making significant contributions to our economy that’d been living in the shadows. It’s absolutely UN-American to do the things the way we’re doing this, creating an under-cast of people. It’s also in a post 9/11 world that makes no sense to not know who’s here and have some documentation and paper trails on these folks. 

(Charlie farm owner) 

In this rural area that we live in, the police know what’s going on. They know that these guys are farm workers. There’s been areas here, orchards, vegetable areas that have had Mexicans for 100 years coming up and helping with the harvest just like many other parts of this country, take care of them. But the area that the police draw the line on is any type of fighting or drunkenness.  

Public drunkenness is where police will definitely react. If the police stop a guy who’s driving to and from work, let’s say, illegally, his license isn’t perfect, I often hear stories about them letting them go. But if drinking or some type of situation is involved, that’s when they always involve the immigration, and the guys are in trouble, and the guys realize that, especially the smart ones, that they just have to work and try to stay out of the bars, and that’s just another sacrifice they make.  

(melancholy guitar music) 

(Jairo at home in the U.S.) 


Tonight, we’re a little sad… a little worried… It’s not the time. (Afraid they may be deported after their cousin is arrested.) We didn’t have it in our minds to go back to Mexico now… hopefully nothing happens, but you never know. 

(German speaking to his cousin Julio)  


(Julio, Jairo’s cousin) 

What happened? – Nothing. They handcuffed me. 


What did you do?  


Nothing. What could I do? 

Her little truck was going at top speed. 

[Other family members]  

What did they tell you? 


A lot of things, but I couldn’t understand them. 

They said they’d give me a permit to stay. 


But how many days? How many hours? 


They said if they catch me again they will deport me. 


Did you give them our address? (to our house) 


No. I didn’t talk to them. 


That’s why I called Freddy on his cell phone. 


Did Freddy call you?  



[Gerardo, a cousin]  

Did you tell them your ID was in the house? 




Did immigration ask you for your papers? 


No, they just talked to me. 


What did they ask? 


They asked how long I have been in the country and if I came with a visa. 

I said no. 



We didn’t know what was going to happen! 


Do you have to go to court? 




They say after a few days someone will come to search you. 


No. Who said that? 


The problem is that after they caught you they intended… to send you to immigration. 


I thought they were going to deport me; I was ready to go. 

[Maria, German’s Wife]  

Stop drinking! 


The cops asked me a lot of questions. I said I didn’t understand. Freddy was about to send me a lawyer. The cops told me that immigration was coming for me. They asked me if I wanted something to drink. I thought they were going to offer me a beer. 


We were thinking about you, and you…were thinking about beer all day long. 


I said yes, and then they brought me a bottle of water. 

(German referring to his Wife Maria) 

She thinks they’re clever. They were going to hide… 


and we would be caught and deported back to Mexico. 


That’s not true! We are the workers here. We have a lot of work to do! 


I tell her it’s easier for you to get caught than us. 


I would find a hole and hide in it. We’ve been up late waiting for you, So, you have to get up early to make breakfast. 

(Charlie, dairy farmer) 

Now he has a history of being in jail. He went twice already. This is the third time. The police, because of his record, reported him to immigration. Immigration kept him in jail for a month… and the police had kept him in jail for a month, too. Then immigration decided to send him back to Mexico. 

(Julio back in Mexico after deportation) 


I got caught by the police. I was put in jail. I spent three months there. I was transferred to immigration. They held me for 20 days.  That’s when I got deported back to Mexico. They told me that I can’t go back to the United States for 10 years. I was handcuffed; chained at my ankles and around my waist. Everything.  

Even when they gave me food they didn’t remove my handcuffs. That’s the way we ate. We had to eat however we could. From the immigration office they took us to the airport. There were many of us together. They were deportees, too. We went to Houston, Texas. At the border we got together with some more Mexicans. I wish I could go back to the USA to work… to be with my friends there…my brother, my cousins…  

German, Jairo. with everyone over there at the dairy farm. I’d like to spend some time there and then be able to come back here… to be with my family. Then I can relax here. No, I’m not afraid of immigration. 

(Maria migrant worker) 

The good people get blamed for the actions of bad people. The same way that there are good people, there are bad people. Wherever you go, you will find people like that. If an American goes to Mexico… he could be good or bad. If someone comes from Mexico to here, they could be good or bad. 

When certain people misbehave here, they don’t think… about the sacrifices we all made crossing the desert to come here. The only thing that these people care about…is to cash their pay check… So, they can buy more beers. Why they do that? In Mexico you can buy beer as well. 

(Charlie, dairy farm owner) 

I think if it was made any easier we’d have more and more workers up here than anybody in this country could handle, I think. There’s just millions more, not only from Mexico, but other Central American countries.  Let’s say, if we opened up the borders to workers, I’m not saying give them citizenship, but you’re allowed to come here and work. I think it would be eye-opening how many would come. 

What these guys go through to get here. They’re putting it all on the line, their whole family. The sacrifices they make are tremendous. And, of course, the compensation is tremendous, too, but I think if the borders were just opened up, I don’t think that would work because I think we’d be overwhelmed. 

(Rev. Robin Hoover, Humane Borders) 

I’m from the school of thought that says that overall, the macroeconomic impact is quite beneficial for migration, but the communities that actually live on this border suffer significant mandated expenditures that are not reimbursed by the feds, that are encouraged because of the policy. 

So, until we change some of these issues and move the migration back to the ports of entry, documented, inspected, we’re gonna have chaos down here. 

(Jairo with a new born calve.) 


This other one was born like 20 minutes ago. 


OK, and for you it’s time to go. 

(vibrant guitar music) 

Bye, bye, camera.  

(END Transcript)