"Which Way Home" Premieres on HBO Tonight

The documentary Which Way Home premieres on HBO tonight at 9pm ET. The film follows unaccompanied migrant children from Latin America as they endure harrowing conditions on a freight train to come to the U.S. to be with their parents.

Exploitation by smugglers. Dehydration in the desert. The danger of being struck by trains. These are just a few of the dangers facing thousands of children from Latin America who travel great distances on top of freight trains to get to the United States. This film looks at the personal side of immigration through the eyes of several of these unaccompanied migrant children as they embark on a treacherous journey aboard a freight train they call "The Beast." Along the way, their stories of hope, courage, disappointment and sorrow are revealed as they endeavor to make it to the land of opportunity.


Here's just a few of the children you'll meet:

  • Fito, 13-year-old Honduran whose mother abandoned him when he was very young, lives with his impoverished grandmother, who has a job making cigars. He is traveling to the U.S. to look for work and hopes to be adopted.
  • Jose, a nine-year-old Salvadoran, lives with his aunt, and has not seen his mother Rosa since she left to work in the U.S. three years ago. Hoping to live with her, he traveled through Mexico on a bus with a smuggler. When Mexican immigration officials boarded the bus, the smuggler abandoned Jose, who was then taken to a detention center.
  • Jairo is a 14-year-old Mexican whose father never accepted him. He has lived on the streets of Chiapas since his mother was killed a year ago. Schooling is very important to him, but he cannot currently afford to continue his education. Jairo has decided to go to Laredo, Texas to find employment, and then return to Mexico with money to hire a tutor.

The film also includes interviews with the families of two youths who didn't survive the journey: the bodies of 13-year-old Eloy and his 16-year-old cousin Rosario were found in the desert. Their deaths underscore the extremely dangerous journey taken by these often-invisible children, who are making adult decisions to change their lives.

How can this happen?

Central American children making the journey to the United States must first cross the Guatemala-Mexico border. Although Mexican companies prohibit riders on freight trains, thousands board them anyway, making the rule impossible to enforce.

If after watching the film, you would like to donate to a shelter that comforts and aids migrants, here is the film's recommended list.

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  • Display: Sort:
    I heard the filmaker interviewed on NPR this a.m. (none / 0) (#1)
    by shoephone on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 02:27:21 PM EST
    It sounds like an excellent documentary. But I'm glad I don't have HBO because these kinds of films tend to depress me. Sometimes real life stories hit too close to the bone.

    They do... (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by kdog on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 03:21:26 PM EST
    but it is good to make yourself watch, see the consequences of our laws.

    I'm still haunted by the Chernobyl doc HBO ran a few years back...painful to watch.


    Well, like I said...I don't have HBO (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by shoephone on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 04:11:45 PM EST
    I do see your point, kdog, but I am at the point where my cup runneth over with family tragedy and societal tragedy and I am taking a break in order to keep my sanity.

    I hear ya... (none / 0) (#4)
    by kdog on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 04:40:49 PM EST
    by all means shoephone, sit this one out even if you had HBO...look on the brightside of life tonight, its always there even when its hard to see.

    The world will always be beyond f*cked up, it's not like we're gonna make an evolutionary leap anytime soon, you can tune back into the misery later when you're more up to it...better luck to ya pal.


    Be glad you don't have HBO... (none / 0) (#7)
    by kdog on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 09:33:57 PM EST
    shoephone to be tempted to watch...things are gravy in my life right now, and it bummed the sh&t outta me.

    The suffering in this world knows no bounds.


    There are likely 10 million similar children (none / 0) (#5)
    by rennies on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 06:06:03 PM EST
    in the world who want to escape to the United States. Unfortunately, they can't ride a train to get here. What about them? Why not just have a completely open border policy? Anyone who can make it to the US can stay?  Why have any laws regarding immigaration?

    After watching the film... (none / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 09:32:03 PM EST
    I'm more for an open borders policy than ever...immigration laws are a crime against humanity, plain and simple.  

    I'm not saying we gotta help and support everybody who comes, I'm saying just give 'em a damn shot to make a life for themselves if they can find one, wherever they can find one.  And not just the USA either, every god damn government in the whole god damn world.

    First and foremost, we are all citizens of earth and have an inalienable right to roam it in search of greener pastures.  Do what is right and come what may...free movement of people is right.  


    Open borders are a mistake (none / 0) (#8)
    by nyjets on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 10:10:56 PM EST
    Immigration laws are necessary to protect this country and it's citizens. There are not enough jobs and resources for American citizens, let alone for all of the immigrants, legal or illegal, who come to this country.
    First and formost, we have to protect our citizens economic livelhood. Immigration laws do that.
    I we had an open border, it would be chaotic and destructive.

    Protect us from what? (none / 0) (#9)
    by kdog on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 10:33:26 PM EST
    Competition?  I thought that was what a free market was all about, competition.  Thats what we hear when jobs are shipped over borders, and money is sent over borders...but the minute flesh and blood tries to cross a border there's a problem?  Bullsh*t man.

    Funny...for there not being enough jobs the people that make it without losing a limb or dying in the desert seem to find one. And if they don't, they keep movin' till they do.

    Watching the migrants on them trains reminded me of the hobos hoppin' freights during the depression lookin' for a better life and opportunity...and they got beaten and jailed for their trouble as well...the song remains the same. I for one am ready for the DJ to play a new track...a song of freedom.


    Competion only among American citizens (none / 0) (#10)
    by nyjets on Mon Aug 24, 2009 at 10:46:02 PM EST
    "Competition?  I thought that was what a free market was all about, competition.  Thats what we hear when jobs are shipped over borders, and money is sent over borders...but the minute flesh and blood tries to cross a border there's a problem? "

    I never said that I am in favor of outsourceing jobs to other countries. I am in favor of taxing American companies that do exactly that. Also, as far as I am concerned, competition should be among American citizens, not American citizens and illegal and legal immigrants.

    "Funny...for there not being enough jobs the people that make it without losing a limb or dying in the desert seem to find one. And if they don't, they keep movin' till they do."

    Many of these jobs were stolen by illegal immigrants are jobs that American citizens will do. However, illegal immigrants are willing to work less, lowering wages. The fact is the number of jobs out there are finite. There are not enough for American citizens and illegal immigrants. Seal the border and deport illegal immigrants and find out how many American citizens will be employed.

    The this country needs to protect its own citizens. We do not have enough resources to protect our own and people from other countries.


    We don't need protection... (none / 0) (#11)
    by kdog on Tue Aug 25, 2009 at 06:35:05 AM EST
    from human beings looking for a job nyj, we only need protection from tyrants looking to deprive human beings of basic freedom and dignity.  That's what your protection is ya know...chains and cages and suffering and pain and misery...I want no part of it.

    And there was a time in my life when I was standing at the mock-up right next to these folks at 5am, looking for a 60 a day gig.  I didn't resent them for coming here to compete for the same job, I wished them luck...because we all need it.



    Yes we do (none / 0) (#12)
    by nyjets on Tue Aug 25, 2009 at 07:06:34 AM EST
    We do need protection from from "human beings looking for a job." There are not enough jobs here for everyone. It is hard enough trying to get a job right now without competing from non American citizens.The economy is in a shambles in part because of all of the cheap labor that is coming into the country. (In fairness, illegal immigration is one of many reason.)

    And I am not saying we should lock up illegal immigrants indefinitly.  They should be simply deported.