Imagine only being able to see your father through a small hole in a metal fence, for only a few short moments. This is the reality for many families in the United States, as for various reasons, family members are deported to Mexico, and unable to see their family members who reside in the US.
In 1990, a 17- foot metal fence was established to separate the US and Mexico border. The border stretches across 1,954 miles (3,145 kilometres), going from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean. The fence is 17 feet tall, is barricaded with barbed wire, and steel barriers, keeping loved ones from seeing one another.
In a short film entitled “Through the Wall” a mother named Abril travels with her two-year-old son Julian, from San Diego to visit her husband at the border of the United Sates and Mexico. After Julian’s father was deported back to Mexico, the family struggles to stay together, as they cannot see him often and the trek is long and tiresome. But their loving bond keeps them together as they interact through the wall.
On Sunday Abril packs her bag and leaves early in the morning. They take a short cut through sewage water; the path along the ocean takes longer, and it is difficult to travel such a distance with a two-year-old. Young Julio wants to run and play and doesn’t understand the concept. It has been over two years since the family has lived this way; once a week through the holes in a barbed wire fence. The father and son laugh and play through the fence, with only the touch of their finger tips.
When you think of family you think of love, of laughter and happiness and joy. These families may have a loving bond but the only time they are able to interact is not in a loving or joyful surrounding. The thick steal mesh makes it difficult to see their family members on the other side. They are able to touch each other through the holes in the fence, but the holes are tiny making it difficult. It’s sad to see how difficult it is for families to spend just a small amount of time together. Julian’s father is unable to see his son grow up. He’s missed his son’s first steps, his first words; precious monumental times in a child’s life that cannot be relived. They are crowded by many others trying to find their families, it is frantic and there is security patrolling the area. It’s dark, and as Abril puts it “it feels like a war zone.”
The fence separating Tijuana and San Diego is the most protected of the areas, the border is secured with three sets of fences. This area is constantly under close eyes of the border patrol, as it is monitored with bright lights, trucks, and cameras.
As parents are deported back to Mexico, the separation of families has become a common occurrence in the US. In a study conducted between July 1, 2010 and September 31, 2012 it was concluded that 23% of the deportations were parents of children who are US citizens.
On rare occasions, the border officers open the gates so the families can briefly reunite. The gate doesn’t stay open for long until it is sealed again continuing the separation of families.
Watch the video below to see the hardships Abril and her son face as they partake on their journey to the US- Mexico border: