“We walked mainly at night. We would rest during the day and walk at night, mainly because it was too hot during the day. We walked three nights and two days. That last day, that’s when we were caught by immigration officials.”
Gabriel, 14, from Puebla, Mexico, telling of his journey through the Sonora desert
The United States government estimates that close to 10,000 undocumented immigrants enter the country on a daily basis. When hearing this statistic, most people think of adults coming to America looking for work and a chance at a better life.
But these statistics do not only refer to grown men and women.
Have you ever wondered how many of the 3.5 million undocumented immigrants who enter this country annually are children?
Every year, more and more children are immigrating to the United States without a parent or legal guardian. At any given time, an average of 700 unaccompanied minors are being detained by the U.S. Homeland Security Department (formerly known as Immigration and Naturalization Services or I.N.S.). The majority of the 85,000 undocumented immigrants under 17 arrested in 2003 were teenagers, although cases of children as young as 10 traveling alone have been reported. Some of these children come to the United States seeking asylum, others hope to be reunited with family members already living here, and all are simply in search of a better future for themselves. Often, these children are running away from physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse from a parent, relative or guardian. Others are fleeing their countries because of persecution due to their religious beliefs or gender. Many are often homeless and/or orphans. These children are driven by a strong survival instinct assuring them that the United States is their last resource, their salvation. They are willing to risk it all for a chance at a new life. And they do.
Children In No Man’s Land is a documentary that uncovers the current plight of the 100,000 unaccompanied minors entering the United States every year. This film gives this timely political debate about the U.S.-Mexico border a human face by exploring the story of Maria de Jesus (13) and her cousin Rene (12) as they attempt to cross the US/Mexico border alone to reunite with their mothers in the Midwest. Focusing on minors crossing through the Sonora Desert area in Nogales, Arizona, this film explores every detail of these children’s journey as well as the journeys of other children we meet on the way. We uncover in an intimate and personal way where they are coming from, what their journeys have been like and how they’ve gone about it, through to the arrival at their destination — their new home, The United States of America.