A Million Miles Away: Navigating the Migrant Experience on the Silver Screen

BY: Neighbors’ Consejo|

Recently, on Amazon Prime Video, the film “A Million Miles Away” was added to the platform. It is a true story that narrates the life of a Mexican migrant who worked alongside his family from a very young age, cultivating, as he states, “the food that ended up on Americans’ tables”. Despite this challenging work and living in precarious conditions, his dream never wavered: Become an astronaut. This story prompts us to reflect on several aspects of the migrant situation in the United States: Their dreams, their conditions, their emotional wellbeing.

According to the latest Custom and Border Protection (CBP [1] ), “more than 2.8 million migrants have had encounters with authorities so far this fiscal year, compared to more than 2.7 million migrants in 2022.” Additionally, USA Today [2] , affirms, “about 2.2 million people were apprehended at the U.S. Mexico border through August, compared to 2.38 million border encounters for all of last year, definitely, about 8,000 migrant arrivals daily at the U.S. Mexico border.”

“Immigrants from Mexico have been the most numerous since 1980. Approximately 26% of the 69.7 million children under age 18 in the United States lives with a least one immigrant parent as of 2021, up from 19% in 2000 and 13% in 1990 [3] .” The Pew Research Center [4]  states, “the Unites States has more immigrants than any other country in the world. Today, more than 40 million people living in the U.S. were born in another country, accounting for about one-fifth of the world’s migrants. The population of immigrants is also very diverse, with just about every country in the world represented among U.S. immigrants.”

In accordance with this, and it is also important to mentionthat it is crucial to know where the migrants arriving in the U.S. come from, as they are not all like astronaut José Hernández.[5] ”A Department of Homeland Security report in 2021 estimated that the top six countries of origin for undocumented immigrants were Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, India, Honduras and China. The Pew Research Center’s latest estimates indicate about 10.5 million undocumented immigrants live in the United States. That means the vast majority of foreign-born people living in the United States (77%) are here legally [6] .” And just as José planted vegetables or Adela had her restaurant, it is important to highlight some of the jobs that migrants perform in the United States. According to the Migration Policy Institute [7] , “the reports find that foreign-born workers are employed in a broad of range occupation – with 23% in managerial and professional occupations (as José Hernández); 21% in technical, sales, and administrative support occupations; 21% in service occupations; and 18% working as operators, fabricators.”

All of these valuable workers have undoubtedly contributed to making the United States, throughout its history, a more prosperous nation and even a global power. However, none of this would be possible without the effort and persistence of each migrant and of course, Americans who together, make a better country. This places a significant burden on them, which can translate into physical and mental health issues. That is why we invite you to read:

In conclusion, this article would become a large book if we analyzed the entire universe of migrants in the US, because each one has had a social, economic, political, mental, and cultural situation that has shaped the development of the United States as a nation. However, we cannot overlook the efforts of individuals like José Hernández, who have gone from planting corn to riding beyond the stars, as he mentions in the movie, “who better than a migrant to work on new lands?”

And it is important to mention that non-profits like Neighbors’ Consejo [8] are comprised of migrants and nationals that are committed to helping the neediest in Washington DC, offering free services in mental wellness support for the most vulnerable.










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