Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Columns & Features > Global Views > Documentary “Train to Nowhere” relives the harrowing last journey of 11 undocumented immigrants

Documentary “Train to Nowhere” relives the harrowing last journey of 11 undocumented immigrants

LatinaLista — Before we had daily reports of indiscriminate murders of undocumented Central American immigrants committed by Mexican drug carteles, Americans weren’t so accustomed to hearing about mass deaths of undocumented immigrants. The first such report that brought this issue “home” was in 2002 when 11 bodies were found at the bottom of a railroad grain hopper in Denison, Iowa.
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The 11 were men and women from Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico and El Salvador who were coming to the United States to find work. They came from deeply impoverished areas, as described by a FBI agent who worked on the case identifying the victims and who appears in a new documentary about it premiering next month on Iowa’s public television.
Train to Nowhere: Inside an Immigrant Death Investigation traces the story back from the gruesome discovery in that fateful railroad car to where the journey began.
The story becomes quickly personal for viewers when the brother of a victim from Guatemala, who is a legal resident and a business owner, describes his anguish in working with investigators to find the killers of his youngest brother and the other ten victims.
Yet, in a twist, the documentary also includes the perspectives of the immigration and federal investigators and some of the people who were charged in the crime that led to these senseless deaths.
While certainly sympathetic to the victims, the film doesn’t endorse nor condemn illegal immigration. What it does do is put a face to the illegal immigration issue and humanizes an event that continues to happen on a daily basis that impacts people on both sides of the border.
The documentary’s producers Paul Kakert & Colleen Bradford Krantz are releasing the film on DVD in October and are making it available for purchase. Realizing how such a tragedy can be a learning experience for some, the producers have also created curriculum guides for educators to teach students how illegal immigration isn’t an issue that is going away as long as the United States offers the promise of a better life than the one that exists for too many south of the border.
A trailer of the film is available at the Latina Lista Network on the homepage.
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