Foreign Policy Blogs

“Which Way Home”: A Story of Migration in Latin America

att3a9e1-1On August 24th HBO presented a new documentary titled “Which Way Home”. This film follows a number of children, as young as 9-years old, on their perilous journey from Central America into the United States. While seeking to enter the US illegally, they dream of building better lives.

Venezuelan migrants do not live in the shadow of the United States as do Central Americans. Not surprisingly, therefore, few if any travel via bus and train on the dangerous journey north in an attempt to cross the Rio Grande. While some hope to immigrate to the US (via plane) others seek opportunities in Europe. They too desire better lives, but are generally more economically privileged, and are not escaping extreme poverty. A greater number of Venezuelans are now departing for political reasons, leaving a country that is increasingly socialist in nature. (“Brain drain” from Venezuela, as thousands of educated young men and women move overseas, is a subject that I will touch upon in another blog post.)

The HBO documentary was presented at the prestigious Tribeca film festival. See more at:

An article in Monday’s New York Times gives further description on how the director, Rebecca Cammisa, shot the film.

Regardless of where one stands on the issue of illegal migration, “Which Way Home” provides an opportunity for audiences to hear the voices of underage migrants, who make up approximately 5% of migrants passing northwards through Mexico. It reveals the personal stories of young migrants that can become lost within the polarizing public debate over immigration to the United States.

While Hollywood seems to focus on selling glitz or scoring big at the box office (how could “Transformers 2” earn over $200 million in five days?), it is nice to see movies that spread awareness of key social issues to a wider public audience. A few other flics touching on the theme of migration also come to mind:

Tears of the Sun” (2003): Please don’t laugh. This Hollywood action movie starring Bruce Willis may not describe the complexities of refugee situations, but it does place the issue of displaced persons squarely within the film’s plot.

Maria Full of Grace” (2004): Portrays the use of women as “mulas” (mules) to transport cocaine, ingested in latex balloons, on flights into the United States. Actress Catalina Sandino Moreno was nominated for an Oscar for her leading role.

Human Trafficking” (2005): A TV movie revealing the exploitation of women forced into prostitution in other countries (although it could have also shown with greater depth that men and economic migrants are also at risk of being trafficked).



David D. Sussman

David D. Sussman is currently a PhD Candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University), in Boston, Massachusetts. Serving as a fellow at the Feinstein International Center, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study the lives of Colombian refugees and economic migrants in Caracas, Venezuela. David has worked on a variety of migrant issues that include the health of displaced persons, domestic resettlement of refugees, and structured labor-migration programs. He holds a Masters in International Relations from the Fletcher School, where he studied the integration of Somali and Salvadoran immigrants. David has a B.A. from Dartmouth College and is fluent in Spanish. He has lived in Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Venezuela, and also traveled throughout Latin America. In his free time David enjoys reading up on international news, playing soccer, cooking arepas, and dancing salsa casino. Areas of Focus: Latin America; Migration; Venezuela.