Borderland Blues

Life on the border between the US and Mexico

Borderland Blues A barren desert of cacti and scrubland has become the loci of a major political issue – immigration into the United States. The desolate wastes between Mexico and Arizona provide a major but illegal entry point to the US, along a border that divides both countries and opinions. Set against a haunting desert landscape, this balanced doc follows people on all sides of the political divide, from voluntary border patrols to immigrants’ rights groups.

"We don't claim to be a militia because the media has portrayed militias in this country as a bad thing." Tim 'Nailer' Foley discusses the group he founded, the Arizona Border Recon, devoted to patrolling the desert to aid US Border Patrol. Heavily armed and dressed in military regalia, they struggle to shake off the connotations of a militia, which he sums up as, "just a bunch of racist guys with guns running around wanting to shoot everything."

In this same area operate other groups with a very different agenda - to help migrants on their journey. Paige Corich-Kleim is part of the aid organisation No More Deaths: "we go out to different places in the desert where we have mapped migrant trails, and so we leave food, water, and socks, and sometimes blankets in strategic locations." Other duties include reporting incidents of racial profiling at road-side checks, and documenting cases of abuse and mistreatment suffered by detainees. Despite their best efforts, Paige still feels she is not doing enough: "What we're able to do is actually really really small, and that can feel really disappointing."

Some find themselves quite literally caught in the middle of this border, like Ofelia Rivas of the O'odham people, indigenous to the land between Arizona and Mexico. "Our lands are now divided by an international border," she explains. "It's only a third of our original lands." For Ofelia and her people, the border has been disastrous, splitting the community along an arbitrary line. "To have so much aggression on our people makes so much impact - not just psychological but physical. We're all tormented by what's happening to our lands right now."

The issues surrounding immigration and the US-Mexican border have become as controversial as they have divisive. Set in the beautiful but barren landscape of southern Arizona, this measured documentary explores the difficult questions surrounding this subject, taking all sides into account.

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