Border of Dreams: The Humanity of Immigration Reform

 In Telling a Better Story

Border of Dreams is a documentary that explores the immigration issue through the lives of two men. The first, Mardoqueo, came to the United States from Guatemala. When we arrived at the border, he and two others were detained by border security and sent back to Guatemala. The second, Abel, came to the U.S. from Mexico in the 1990’s, making a life for his family in the Kansas City area. The documentary, a partnership between the Textura international journalism project at Bethel University in St. Paul, MN, and director Nataly Basterrechea, moves back and forth between Guatemala and Kansas City, showing the consequences of their choices. We meet Mardoqueo’s family and hear about the conditions that led to his attempt to cross the border and the large debt he incurred in trying to make the trip. We meet Abel’s family and follow him as he works construction and talks about wanting to move back to Mexico one day. You can view their stories in the documentary below:

This documentary shows the complexity of the immigration issue. It’s easy to talk about it in the abstract, forgetting that real flesh and blood people involved. Award winning photojournalist John Moore is an important voice throughout the documentary as his photos provide a visual context for the human toll. So is the perspective of Abel’s neighbor, Kurt Rietema, who speaks to the community Abel has formed with neighbors in Kansas City. The documentary is not partisan, it’s not trying to strong arm anyone to embrace the talking points of a particular party; it is political in the original sense of the word—the film is about how we organize our lives together as human beings.

This is where the documentary is most powerful as it traces the consequences of our decisions and how these choices impact our neighbors. Immigration is messy, but so is real life. We don’t live in an abstract world; we live in concrete communities doing the best we can to help our neighbors flourish. The presidential politics of 2024 want immigration to remain an abstract idea, a policy or talking point that can be weaponized so their side can win. But we all know this is not the real world—life is about compromises, it’s about compassion, and it’s about loving our neighbors the best we can.

The gospel doesn’t call us to an abstract life, what Dietrich Bonhoeffer refers to as “cheap grace”; the gospel is about costly grace, about getting into the mess, taking up our cross, and following Jesus.  If you’d like to begin a conversation about immigration, and what this might look like for your community, consider showing Border of Dreams. It’s available for viewing on YouTube or contact Textura at Bethel University and they will provide resources. This election year is a perfect time to have a conversation about immigration so we can be informed and seek to faithfully follow Jesus Christ during this Lenten season.

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