‘Under the Same Moon’: The truth of undocumented immigrants

Through a 9-year-old’s journey, we see what immigrants offer our country

As we all know, a hallmark of President Trump’s campaign platform was that he would build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. As president, his talks of building a wall continue. His belief that a wall should exist on the border stems from his opinions about the kinds of people coming into the U.S. from Mexico. We’re all familiar with his infamous statement: “They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

“Under the Same Moon,” also known as “La misma luna,” released in 2007 and directed by Patricia Riggen, starring Adrián Alonso, Kate del Castillo, Eugenio Derbez, America Ferrera and Jesse Garcia, challenges what Trump and others believe happens at the southern border and who crosses over “without papers.”

The movie begins like this: It’s the dead of night. A woman (Kate del Castillo) and a boy (Adrián Alonso) are at a river, along with several other people, trying to cross to the other side. The border patrol finds the group. The woman and the boy hide themselves to avoid getting caught.

Then she wakes up. Rosario, now living in L.A., made it across the river, but her son, the now 9-year-old Carlitos, is still in Mexico. It’s been four years since they’ve been separated, but every Sunday at 10 a.m. sharp, they each use a payphone to call each other.

The rest of the movie follows Carlitos’ journey to the U.S. as the boy attempts to be reunited with his mother. In Mexico, Carlitos lives with and takes care of his sick grandmother while his mother works as a housekeeper in America. But, when the death of his grandmother happens early on in the film, he decides that instead of letting some kniving relatives take care of him, he would go in search of his mother instead.

Carlitos’ route to America isn’t easy. He endures some difficult situations along the way. He crosses the border in a hidden compartment underneath the back seat of a van in sweltering heat, loses all his money, almost gets sold into child trafficking and works picking vines on a tomato farm, all while dodging the police the whole time.

So, you may be thinking this is an unrealistic story. A 9-year-old going on such a dangerous journey, all by himself? According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, last fiscal year there were 59,692 unaccompanied children apprehended at the border.

Why? Why do children, families and individuals take such a risky, dangerous, potentially life-ending path to get to the U.S., even when they know the hardship won’t end once they get to American soil? Well, during the film, a worker Carlitos meets on the tomato farm named Enrique (Eugenio Derbez), explains it quite well while the two are on a bus on the way to L.A.

“Tell me how you've liked these past few days,” Enrique says. “You liked picking tomatoes? Hiding from the I.N.S. (Immigration and Naturalization Service)? Or washing dishes just for a meal and a place to sleep? No one chooses to live this way, Carlitos, unless they've got a good reason. I'm sure that for her (Rosario), you're that reason!”

What Carlitos, Rosario, Enrique and the other immigrants in “Under the Same Moon” brought to America weren't drugs or crime, like the current occupant of the Oval Office thinks. But, when we follow Carlitos on the path to finding his mom during the length of the film, we see some of the things that immigrants do bring to this country: steadfast hope, a strong work ethic and the persistence to follow their dreams.

This content is from MBRACE, an experimental publication created as part of an immersive learning class at Ball State. If you have questions, comments or like what you see, follow mbrace_bsu on Instagram.


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