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The Infinite Border

Central Americans' exodus into the U.S. and Canada is brought to light

By Kevin Spurgaitis

The Infinite Border
Directed by Juan Manuel Sepúlveda
(Patricia Coronado)

Each year, hundreds of thousands of Central Americans secretly enter Mexico en route to the United States and Canada. Their seemingly endless voyage begins on the back of a roaring freight train they call “The Beast.”

The Infinite Border (La Frontera Infinita) is a portrait of this contemporary exodus, told through desperate men and women in search of richer lives. Their journey, it seems, holds a thousand promises but the potential for just as many disappointments. Some end up in jail while some are sent back home, only to try again. Others bear the harsh proof of riding the rails northward: severed limbs.

The 2,000-mile trip to the United States begins at the Suchiate River on the northern border of Guatemala, where, for $1, migrants cross on makeshift rafts into sweltering jungles. Then they hike beside dilapidated, sun-scorched train tracks, confronted by thieves, corrupt immigration officials, police and railroad employees. To these and others they meet along the way, the itinerants are nothing more than cash cows.

The relationship between the filmmaker and subjects is casual and trusting. The result is a thoughtful, sometimes spellbinding tale about desperately poor people in a constant state of motion. Says one migrant teen: “If migration gets me, I’ll merely throw myself forward again. I won’t lose hope; I believe someday I’ll get across the border.”

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