It’s one thing to hear the facts: In the past 15 years, more than 2,500 migrants attempting to cross the Mexico-Arizona border through the Sonora Desert have perished en route. It’s quite another to view the decomposing corpse of a 13-year-old girl discovered baking in the 108-degree sun, as depicted in Marco Williams’ The Undocumented. This young Jane Doe is one of hundreds each year that fall victim to heat exhaustion and dehydration in the desert. The death toll has risen steadily as the U.S. has tightened its borders, forcing migrants on a much longer and more treacherous journey. The Undocumented follows attempts to identify these corpses and return them to their families, weaving together narratives of several Mexican families whose loved ones remain missing. The film paints a deeply human portrait of all parties involved, from employees at the Mexican Consulate in Tucson struggling to provide answers to grief-stricken families, to the grim-faced Border Patrol in the desert that tensely tries both to enforce laws and save lives. While it’s clear who the victims are, the perpetrator is less clearly defined. But Tucson medical examiner Bruce Parks’ closing words haunt the viewer: “The United States is asking for this labor force. We have to ask ourselves, do we have some responsibility in these deaths?”
Critic’s Grade: A
SEE IT: The Undocumented plays at the NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium. 7 pm Wednesday, Oct. 30.