Soledad shows what life is like for those imprisoned in immigration detention centers while they await their day in court.
The film lays bare the callous and brutal nature of the U.S. immigration/asylum system, which is in stark contrast to the compassion and altruism of everyday citizens like those supporting Soledad.
Soledad tells the story of a young woman from Central America who was imprisoned in the Eloy Detention Facility when she sought asylum in the United States in 2017. Soledad set out on a perilous journey from her homeland after enduring horrific persecution where she was kidnapped, sex-trafficked, tortured and nearly killed.
Attorney Shefali Milczarek-Desai, who took the case pro bono, mobilized a dream team of professional women, all of whom agreed to work for free on the case. Together, they secured Soledad's release from Eloy and ultimately prevailed on her asylum claim in a rare victory for an asylum seeker in the U.S.
For some additional contextual background on the crisis in Latin America, Professor Colin Deeds writes: "The poverty and inequality prevalent in Central America are largely due to U.S. capitalistic/imperial policy over the decades that has exploited the region's resources, while marginalizing its most vulnerable populations. Successive U.S. regimes have deposed democratically elected governments in many of these countries, further destabilizing political, economic and social conditions on the ground. The violent gangs plaguing the region today are the result of mass migration from civil wars and genocides of the 1980s . The most violent gangs (MS - 13/Mara Salvatruchas) were born and bred on U.S. streets and U.S. prisons, before members were deported back to their countries of origin. The weapons they use are produced by U.S. arms manufacturers and trafficked freely thanks to the most lax gun laws on the planet. The drug trade is fueled by the U.S. insatiable demand for mind altering substances and massive profits generated. All this not to mention climate related migration that is on the rise and expected to increase."
Through one woman's story, Soledad illustrates the plight faced by many asylum seekers and refugees arriving at the U.S. border and highlights the incredible work of lawyers and activists who donated their time to fight for another woman's future. Soledad puts a human face to our current immigration system and invites audience members to reflect on what kind of country we want to be and how our stance on immigration impacts real human lives.
*DISCLAIMER: This film contains some sensitive content.
*DVD EXTRA: The Cleaners, 2018. The Cleaners is a short documentary which follows 3 immigrant workers who fight back against wage theft with the help of a law school clinic.
Soledad is a beautifully rendered yet wrenching film to watch. It captures the dignity and humanity of a young woman, along with her dedicated lawyer and interpreter who stood with her in the pursuit of justice often denied. At the same time we are privy to the cruel, vicious and mostly privatized U.S. detention system, where systematic abuses are committed with impunity disguised behind a “rule of law” rhetoric.
This film provides a rare opportunity to see up-close the bravery, resilience, and hardships faced by women fleeing violence from Central America. We often hear about asylum-seekers at the border in the news, but very few of us get to know the remarkable individuals impacted by the cruel policies in place. Through this film, viewers can begin to understand one of the root causes of the humanitarian crisis at our border: gender-based violence. They can also see the inspiring change that a dedicated team of women can make to help one young woman find justice and hope even in today’s exceedingly hostile legal system.
The light of this film is how a small group of women reach through the bars and, against all odds, find freedom for Soledad. The lessons of perseverance and hope are brilliantly showcased, as is the path our country must take to restore law to those seeking a safe harbor.
Soledad will leave you with grief for what we have allowed to happen under this Administration, but it will also leave you inspired by the power and grace of the courageous women whose commitment to justice is unshakable. This film will change you.
Soledad is a step towards the positive change we need to see in the world.
Soledad is a perfect reflection of what Asylum has been in the U.S. for Central American women and girls. It captures the brutality that forces girls to leave their home country. It illustrates the trauma they have escaped, as well as the re-traumatization of detention here in the U.S. Most impressive to me is the depiction of the pro bono lawyer, forensic psychologist, translator and M.D. I have never seen anything that depicts the stories of intrepid asylum seekers as vividly as in this short film. You will fall in love with Soledad as you witness her resilience.
Soledad was my motivation to pursue a career in immigration law. The film captures the struggles Soledad went through, the complex legal work behind her case and the reality of the U.S. Immigration system; but most importantly, it is an exemplary story of perseverance. I hope that everyone who watches the film can feel as inspired as I am by Soledad's story, and with change, more young women like her can finally breathe again.