Invented Borders

The Cine-Files, issue 11 (fall 2016)

Mayra Flores

Graduate student, School of Cinematic Arts, USC

I am the daughter of once undocumented immigrants. The looming fear of my parents being taken away diminished when they were finally granted citizenship after more than ten years of handwork and uncertainty. Still, that fear resurfaces in flashes every time I read or hear about yet another family being ruthlessly separated by a relentless, broken immigration system; a system that criminalizes desperate people who risk it all just for the hope of giving their families a better life, a better future. I now realize that my family’s case is not the rule but the exception. The American Dream is not solely about working hard to earn eventually a green card, a green light towards the American Dream. It is much more exclusive and elusive than that.

The starting points of this video essay were: the harmful rhetoric spewing out of Republican presidential candidates; the growing numbers of deportation; the devastating conditions of detention centers; families living in fear and anonymity, stripped of their dignity and vulnerable to exploitation.

Invented Borders brings a human face to the conversation by focusing on the U.S.-Mexico border wall, the physical barrier that keeps so many families apart. Immigrants are human beings with hopes, dreams, and families but unfortunately they fall victim to arbitrary political barriers that are nearly impossible to cross. Animation has the unique ability to express the unseen, and though it, I hope to spark empathy in the hopes that it becomes an antidote to a seemingly desensitized public.



Nackashi, Tim and Alvarez-Stehle, Chelo. “Through the Wall: a family divided by U.S.-Mexico border.” The Guardian. Video, 05:58, 29 March 2016.

“Immigrant Families Hug Through Border Fence.” Univision Noticias. Video, 01:30, 21 June 2013.

Flores, Mayra. “Invented Borders.” Animation, 01:48, 2 May 2016.


The Cine-Files, issue 11 (fall 2016)