I’ve been an admirer of The Newest Americans project since Ed Kashi introduced it to me almost two years ago, and I’ve been following the work of it’s producers – Talking Eyes Media – since well before that. So when Julie Winokur and Talking Eyes reached out to me about working on a project together I jumped at the chance.
The news cycle has been so full of Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric recently that it’s all to easy to lose perspective on the fact that these statistics actually represent real individuals and families. The current American administration seems to be pouring much of its energy into vilifying Mexicans and fortifying its borders to make sure that Mexicans stay to the South. But in reality the border is an artificial construction and there will always be people flowing over it in both directions. And as long as more opportunity and wealth exists in the United States, hard working Mexicans will follow. At the end of the day everyone is just looking to do the best for themselves and their families, and in this sense it is only logical for people to go where the money is. Yet because of the harsh immigration laws, the trip to the US is often a one-way affair and those who have made it across are unable to return home for fear of forever being locked out.
This is the premise of the story that Talking Eyes approached me with. A family of 10 sisters was divided between New York and their home state of Tlaxcala in Mexico and all but one had at one point gone to the US in search of higher wages. At the time of production the family was roughly split in half between the two countries and neither side was able to freely travel back and forth to see each other. In fact some of the sisters had gone more than a decade without seeing each other, and even when their mother died they were unable to return for the funeral.
This story follows Gaby, the only sister to have never left Mexico, as she gains special permission to visit her family in New York following the death of their mother. But more than that it is a story about family and love. Enjoy!