WHERE AM I
A Film by Robert Bilheimer
Where Am I is a film in the series Running to Stand Still, about the dehumanization and exploitation of forced migrants and refugees in the US and around the world.
Where Am I tells the story of Sister Norma Pimentel, a 66 year-old humanitarian living in McAllen, Texas, who bears witness, every day, to the unspeakable.
What is the “unspeakable?”
The bodies of a father and daughter, drowned in a failed attempt to cross the Rio Grande into the US. The suicide of a thirty year-old man, minutes after being denied asylum in the US. Children ripped from the arms of their parents to be placed, traumatized and alone, in US government “facilities.”
This is life on the US / Mexico border. Exploitation. Violence. Dehumanization. This is what Sister Norma sees, lives with, and fights against, every day.
Sister Norma’s story has painful and alarming elements in it, but in the end, her story is inspiring because, as she tells us, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Simple human kindness, as Norma has often said, works wonders! In such fraught and divisive times, with so many forced migrants’ lives, especially children’s, hanging in the balance, the wonder of Sister Norma, in and of itself, is a story worth telling.
Every day, thousands of migrant children, women, and men from the Northern Triangle of Central America are forced from their homes, endure the hellish journey north through Mexico, only to find themselves bottlenecked and entrapped in the border cities and towns of the Rio Grande, a 188-mile stretch that is now one the most violent and dangerous places on earth.
Repelled by a nationalist American government whose leaders have characterized them in cruel and dehumanizing terms, forced migrants from Central America are among the most vulnerable people on earth. On the Mexican side, many, including children, are tortured, kidnapped, extorted, and raped. Those few who do manage to cross into the US experience the instant and brutal separation of mothers and fathers from their children; placement in detention centers unfit for any child or human being; interminable waits for asylum hearings that may never come; and the threat of instant deportation. As always, the children suffer most: the stupefying fear of a daughter, alone in a “facility,” not knowing if she will ever see her mother again; or the lost, “unaccompanied” boy, whose father cannot stop crying because he does not know where his son is, or if he is even still alive.
If you would like more information on the status of this segment or how to get involved, please contact Heidi Ostertag, firstname.lastname@example.org.