The stories bombard. They’re inescapable. But while most are familiar with the subject, tons of people will never see those who live this life, walk the same roads or have a chance to experience the reality of life on the border. But beginning tonight on The Discovery Channel takes us to the border.
Investigative reporter Lilia Luciano, along with her Discovery Channel colleagues, promises a whole new perspective of what the days and nights along the border are really like. “I have interviewed drug kingpins on the U.S. side, asylum seekers, people fleeing political persecution and gang violence,” she said in a recent telephone interview. In the most understated way, she calls it “an interesting journey.”
Luciano’s border diary has taken her through both population centers and backwaters of Texas. From McAllen and Arivaca to places so small the gas station is center city. She tries to paint an image that not only people can understand but also relate to.
The images in her work reflect the spectrum of border life. In a ride-along with the border patrol or in an intimate chat with a frightened young mother or a young man simply hoping to secure a future, her stories are painful and real. They focus on people, not packs and caravans. “What I try to do is connect people with other people,” said Luciano. From the beginning, she said, her effort was to “communicate and understand the diversity of circumstances” that brings---often times---divergent forces together. “It is an emotional swing.”
One encounter brought her face to face with a man whose life’s work had evaporated his soul. “I lost count of how many people I have killed,” he told Luciano. “He talks about his addiction to power,” she recalled, as the man admits to his role in the most horrible treatment of fellow human beings.
Another man, moments after being apprehended by authorities, has no power. At the mercy of the Border Patrol, he can only while away the moments until he is locked up and returned to the life that only days before he fled with a suitcase full of clothes and heart full of hope.
Luciano said that those who are stranded on this island of gloom, where home is anywhere but the hell they left, have no idea of the politics of the land they are in. “It often doesn’t even register,” she said. “They’re just trying to survive.
The people Luciano encounters have traveled from Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico and places where everyday life is not living, it’s existing. Any hope means risking all rather than remaining and rolling the dice on either dying or living in misery and fear. For most who have made this choice, it truly is that simple.
“Border Live,” begins Wednesday December 5, on the Discovery Channel at 9:00 p.m. EST.