It's estimated that more than a million people risk their lives each year to illegally cross over the border from Mexico into the United States. While most are looking for a better job, some are criminals that make drug smuggling and gun violence...... Read Full Episode Summary »
On this episode of True Life we'll meet three young people overwhelmed by the problems caused by illegal immigration, who are doing everything they can to handle a situation with no easy solutions.
It's estimated that more than a million people risk their lives each year to illegally cross over the border from Mexico into the United States. While most are looking for a better job, some are criminals that make drug smuggling and gun violence routine in border towns. On this episode of True Life, you'll meet three individuals overwhelmed by the problems caused by illegal immigration and find out what it's like to live on the border.
Fred is a 24-year-old Texas deputy sheriff who patrols miles and miles of dangerous border territory. Although he makes arrests almost daily, he's concerned that border crime is impossible to control. Fred says that while many Mexicans see the U.S. as a great opportunity, being an "illegal" in the U.S. is a hard life.
With the overbearing number of immigrants making their way into the U.S., Fred is worried that there are just not enough law enforcement officers to stop them. It sounds absurd, but sometimes the immigrants' weapons are more powerful than the officers' M16s. With some border crossers carrying rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47s, patrolling the area is a high-risk job, which is why Fred's family constantly begs him to follow his dream of going to law school. But, despite the risk, Fred loves his job.
On a typical day, Fred responds to "shots fired" and discovers possible illegal immigrants with a concealed weapon. Later he is involved in a drug bust, where pounds and pounds of marijuana is recovered. He then visits the morgue, which is littered with unmarked bodies believed to be border crossers who died from dehydration, heat stroke or heart attacks. Dealing with these kinds of situations on a daily basis makes Fred realize it might be time for a change.
Fred understands the appeal of crossing over the border -- people want a better life for themselves -- but he doesn't think they should do it illegally. As a loyal officer, he wants nothing more than to help maintain order and safety in his town and country, but he can't help but feel that laws should be changed to favor immigrants. He believes that if immigrants could more easily become U.S. citizens their crimes would come to a halt.
After giving it some thought, Fred decides to follow his dream of studying law. As he prepares for the exam, he thinks this could be his chance to change immigration laws. He believes that being part of the legal system will have more of an impact on illegal immigration than what he's doing now.
Calan, a 28-year-old resident of Tucson, Ariz., knows firsthand how hard it is to live near the U.S.-Mexico border. When a police chase runs right through his backyard, Calan decides he's had enough and joins a group of citizens called the Minuteman. With them, he patrols the border, making sure no one crosses over illegally. With two sons, Calan thinks it's a necessary step to insure his family's safety.
When the road in front of Calan's house is blocked off by law enforcement because of a "family fight," Calan thinks the affects of illegal immigration are hitting too close to home. Calan practices shooting targets with his handgun, which he keeps with him at all times, in anticipation of patrolling the border.
In the desert, Calan and the Minuteman volunteers are on high alert because they are patrolling an area frequented by drug runners. Many bad things have happened out on the border, so the group reminds each other of their goal: nonviolently stopping people before they cross into the country illegally. During the stakeout, they successfully stop one man, but almost a dozen others get by. They call border patrol, but they do not have the resources to help.
Fed up with the authorities, Calan vows he will make a difference as a Minuteman. He continues to patrol the border and makes a robot that can scout the area instead of the men in hopes of covering more ground. Calan remains steadfast in his quest to keep illegal immigrants out of the U.S.
Tony is an illegal immigrant residing in California. The 22-year-old's parents came to the U.S. with work visas when he was just 7 months old. Now, since his brother married a citizen, he is the only member of the family who doesn't have documentation, which leaves him in a difficult position. Although has lived in the U.S. his entire life, he cannot do the same things as a citizen and he constantly fears that he will be deported.
Because Tony wasn't born in the U.S., he does not have a social security number, which means he can't get a driver's license or a legal job. Therefore, he works under the table and drives illegally. Every time he goes to a bar and shows his Mexican ID, he fears that he will be turned in to the authorities.
Hoping to attend college, Tony desperately tries to find a way to become "legal." He goes to see an immigration lawyer, who tells him that his brother could file a petition on his behalf to become a resident, but it may take up to 20 years to process. It looks like his only options are either waiting it out or marrying a U.S. citizen.
When Tony finds out he has been accepted to a college in San Francisco, he realizes that the odd jobs he's been working won't pay his tuition. When he visits the college to talk about financial aid, he discovers that he is not eligible for any loans or scholarships. By now he is used to being treated like a second-class citizen, so he accepts the fact that he must pay full price to follow his dream. He gets a job at a hotel and begins attending classes.