In a new short Huck film entitled Mitad y Mitad – which translates as Half and Half – director Jordi Ruiz Cirera follows the life of a young mother, Karla Nutter, who knows all too well the struggles of being both American and Mexican in Trump’s USA.
"At 21, Karla has lived through the most violent years in Juarez, has married and had a kid, has suffered racism when in the US for being Mexican and is currently the main breadwinner in the house”, Cirera told Refinery29.
Since Donald Trump was sworn in as US president, every day in America has been unpredictable. His frivolous remarks have shocked the world and thrown a spotlight on his racist views towards Mexican-Americans and immigrants. But are his remarks having a tangible effect on their lives?
Unfortunately, as this film shows, yes. Trump’s anti-Mexican rhetoric is reflected in his economic and immigration policies, including the possible introduction of a “border-adjusted tax” on goods coming from Mexico (this will supposedly pay for Trump’s “big, beautiful wall”) and the abolishment of the North American Free Trade Agreement (a 13-year-old piece of legislation that has seen unemployment rates decline in border cities such as El Paso-Juárez).
Like many others, every day Karla makes the lengthy commute from her home in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, across the border to El Paso, Texas, where she works. El Paso-Juárez happens to be the largest binational region in the largest metropolitan area along the United States-Mexico border, and binationality provides the freedom to move and work freely between the US and Mexico. But what do you do if members of your family don’t share the same privilege?
Karla's husband, Jorje, was deported from the US after entering the country illegally. It isn't possible for him to apply for his papers unless he asks to be pardoned – something Trump's administration seeks to abolish. "I’m scared he won’t grant papers for my husband," Karla says, "But that’s what Trump wants to do: take away forgiveness permits."
Jorje’s immigration issues have affected not only their work and home life, but also meant that they commemorated one of the most important days in their lives in a very unorthodox way. The couple stood on one of the congested international bridges – Jorje's feet in Mexico and Karla's in America – to take their marriage vows. According to Big River Foundation, about 20% of all marriage licenses filed in Webb County, Texas, are for the "ceremony at bridge".
According to Bloomberg, “There were 408,870 border apprehensions in the southwest U.S. last year – a large number of which were people presenting themselves to border agents and seeking asylum.” But with state authorities reporting 1,470 murders in 2016 in the state of Chihuahua alone, up from 1,151 in 2015, it's clear to see why so many risk their lives every day and why so many others are desperate to live a better and safer life in the United States.
“The current political situation in the US, especially regarding immigration, is absolutely dreadful, and it’s sad that it’s being carried out without considering the personal cost on so many people’s lives", Cirera says. Challenging the idea that Mexico and the US are worlds apart, through this film he's giving a voice to those who live in between.