Meet the Border Angels, the Group Trying to Save Migrants’ Lives

I shadowed 40 volunteers while they stashed water along the border.

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Border Angels is an immigrant-advocacy group that organizes hikes into the southern California desert to distribute water along various routes for migrants crossing the US-Mexico border. Last month, along with about 40 volunteers, I tagged along to film one of these “water drops.” After five hours working under the desert sun, a handful of the Border Angels crew hung around a gas station parking lot. Snacks and sodas in hand, they traded laughs and stories from the trek as the border wall loomed in the valley over their shoulders. Some had a close personal connection to someone who had previously crossed: a father, a grandfather, a girlfriend. But some did not. 

I had wanted to put together a simple short film about their water drop operation. But like America’s immigration story, there wasn’t a single or simple story to craft out of this cast of characters. Instead I decided to feature the moments that stood out without forcing everything into one stand-alone narrative—and it seemed like Instagram, with its one-minute limit, provided just the right bite-size length for the scenes. But more than that, with “Instagram carousels” you can group smaller bits together to create experimental longer-form storytelling. The captions were then the final glue to hold it all together. The result is a documentary collage of my time spent with the Border Angels.

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This is the rubber-meets-road moment: the early days in our first fundraising drive since we took a big swing and merged with CIR to bring fearless investigative reporting to the internet, radio, video, and everywhere else that people need an antidote to lies and propaganda.

Donations have started slow, and we hope that explaining, level-headedly, why your support really is everything for our reporting will make a difference. Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” or in this 2:28 video about our merger (that literally just won an award), and please pitch in if you can right now.

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