At the border, the difference between humanitarian service and illegal activity is not always black and white.
Reaching well beyond politics, this full-length documentary film by experienced filmmaker and UC Davis law graduate Bryce Newell will go deep into the heart of an unusual and fascinating humanitarian response to U.S.-Mexico cross-border migration: a high-risk, highly mobile and highly sophisticated network of volunteers from the north side of the border that is caching water supplies, distributing recycled cell phones running encrypted GPS trail-finding software, even sending transmissions of haiku poetry— to keep trans-border migrants from dying in the desert.
To some, it is a dramatic, selfless and inspirational effort that gives new and poignant context to the phrase “the Art of Survival.” To others, such action irresponsibly induces illegal border crossing, tantamount to aiding and abetting unlawful conduct. This project approaches this controversial topic on the premise that the line between inducing illegal immigration activity and providing true humanitarian service is not as clearly delineated — not as easy to draw— as either side might claim. The film will examine the social, legal, and humanitarian aspects wrapped up in this difficult topic. It will tell the stories of immigrants crossing the border and of the volunteers attempting to save their lives (some of whom have been arrested and prosecuted for their conduct), all while seeking to discover where true “humanitarian service” ends and where irresponsible conduct begins.