only search

"The Plastic People" explores mass-deportation

The recently released trailer for an upcoming documentary set in Tijuana, Mexico by openDemocracy editor Charles Shaw about the mass-deportation of immigrants. 

Since 9/11, nearly 4 million people have been deported from the United States, 97% of them Latino.  Mexican-American immigrants were hardest hit. Those who left Mexico years before to build a new life in the States, had families, and contributed to their communities, yet still had not achieved citizenship. Children were taken from parents, leaving tens of thousands as wards of the state. Many were deported without any hope of returning, their families trapped on the other side of the border. 

Regardless of their country of origin, all Spanish-speaking immigrants are deported to the nearest Spanish speaking country, Mexico. Most land in Tijuana, at a rate of 400 a day. They are stripped of their identity and possessions and dropped off in Zona Norte, a dangerous, cartel-infested ghetto, where they are pursued relentlessly by police. Without support in Mexico, they remain homeless and desperate, and find themselves easy prey.

Disavowed by both nations, and abandoned to the streets to die, they are known in Tijuana as the "Plastic People." Their fate may have gone unnoticed by the world if it were not for one man, photographer Chris Bava, who moved to Tijuana to find a way of saving his life, and in the process, documented the plight of these people he saw as no different from himself. 

Shot on location in Tijuana, this film follows the lives of a number of Mexican-American deportees living along the border just twenty miles from San Diego, while revealing how the exploitational policies of a failed war on drugs added Zone Norte to the growing international crisis of nationless refugees and deportees.  

Spectral Alchemy, Lucidity, and Filament Features presents...


Written, Produced & Directed by Charles Shaw

Produced by Ronnie Pontiac, Mitch Schultz, Tamra Spivey & DJ Turner

Edited by Daniel Garcia

Music by Random Rab

Principle Photography by Charles Shaw

Additional Photography by Taylor Cahill, Javier Godinez Mondragon, Jorge Nieto

Sound Supervisor - Dennis LaFollette

Featuring the photography of Chris Bava

About the author

Charles Shaw is an award-winning journalist, editor and filmmaker, and the author of the critically-acclaimed memoir Exile Nation: Drugs, Prisons, Politics & Spirituality. He is currently working on a new film called I’m Still Here, a documentary on Trauma and Healing that will be released in 2015.

We encourage anyone to comment, please consult the
oD commenting guidelines if you have any questions.