Troy Shinn

Across the Border


A note about the film:

The first time Judy and Pedro Landeros saw each other was outside the Rosetta Lodge in Roseburg, OR. Pedro was being hauled off by INS agents and into the back of deportation vans. Despite abuse and a history of deportation, Pedro was determined to find work in the States. When he came back to Oregon, neither Judy or Pedro expected to fall in love and get married, but when they did, the Immigration came to send him back across the border. This documentary outlines one couple’s struggles with the United States Immigration System in the early 1970’s and the odds they had to overcome in order to live together in the Land of the Free.

Across the Border recounts the struggles of one American couple who had to stand up against the U.S. Immigration Department in order to be reunited. The message it sends is one of perseverance. On Pedro’s part for constantly seeking work and livelihood in the United States, and on Judy’s for relentlessly advocating for the release of her husband’s paperwork. Their story raises several questions about the efficacy of the States’ Immigration policy, as well as its humanity. How thoroughly should agencies have to check the backgrounds of people they deport? How much force is necessary to detain nonviolent people? How much responsibility should the United States government have as to what happens to people who have been deported and left with no money or transportation?

The impersonal treatment of immigrants, legally occupying this country or otherwise is highlighted in the many stories that this film encounters. The underage boys whom Judy sheltered, fed, and who were owed wages, were arrested and sent back to Mexico. Judy was sent to federal prison for helping them and unknowingly violating a federal immigration law; essentially punished for showing these boys basic human courtesy. Pedro was shackled and shoved into the back of INS vans and beaten about the head and back if he couldn’t fit or climb into the vehicles. None of this seems very just, and certainly not what we would typify as “American.”

These stories are not unique to the Landeros family. They still happen today. And the institutional racism built into our Immigration Policy marginalizes many kinds of people from diverse and rich cultures. They may not be American, but they are still people, and owed a certain level of decency and humanity by our government.