Identifying themselves as Latino not Hispanic Fernando Oleas Chair of Modern Language Department, and James McKeever Assistant Professor hold a viewing of the documentary “Which Way Home” in the Great Hall.
The documentary follows children on their 1,450 mile journey trying to escape Central America in hopes of making it to The United States. Children as young as 9-years-old travel to be reunited with their parents. assitant professor James McKeever explains the difficulty migrants face. “The family here is struggling, they send $100, it’s a lot there but not alot in the U.S,” McKeever said.
Children hop the trains, which they call “The Beast” through rocky terrain, thick forests, and dry desert lands. Here they will keep a watchful eye out for border patrol who will beat, and rob them of their few valuables.
Desperately trying to stay awake, as they can slide off and plummet to their death. Ducking down not to get struck by upcoming tunnels. Two boys were struck, and killed instantly, spilling body parts all over the train tracks.
A red Beta pick-up truck patrols along side the train. Beta is an organization that is made up of federal, state and city officers who protect migrants from robbers, crooked cops, and to give a helping hand.
“Be careful, and never trust a smuggler,” Beta officer said.
Continuing their journey with sleeping mats strapped to their backs, begging for food, and smoking cigarettes. Sometimes lucky enough to get into a privately run shelter which is a safe haven, and renovates to migrants what dangers to expect.
“Many of you will die on the way to America, some of you will never see your families again, some of you will never return to your country and few will make it,” founder of House of migrants Memo Ramirez Garduza said.
The two boys meet new friends on the train and decide to travel together. Jairo 14-years-old, and Yurico 16-years-old. He tells the route they will take on the beast to reach The United States.
“We will go from here to Ixtepec, Medias Aguas, Tierra Blanca, Orizaba, Mexico City, Lecheria Station, Irapuato, San Luis Potosi, Monterrey, and finally The United States,” Yurico said .
As the journey comes to an end Kevin is picked by American border agents in Texas and deported back to Honduras. Some have died from dehydration in the deserts, fallen off the trains, or mysteriously disappeared.
Mexican train companies do not allow riders on freight trains, but many undocumented Central Americans will make several attempts to reach the United States border by way of the beast. Having the same goal of making it to America.
After the documentary ended there was a discussion with Professor Oleas, Assistant Professor McKeever, and nearly 20 Pierce students. They dig into why this documentary is so important to show.
“This phenomenon has been going on for more than 100 years. Latin America is the richest land in natural resources, but migrants are still coming to the United States because of lack of opportunity,” said Oleas “It’s Hispanic Heritage month and we want to awaken the students what goes on world wide.”