After the unexpected result of the 2016 presidential election, filmmaker Maisie Crow was eager to move back to Texas and tell stories impacting the people of her home state. Crow felt the anti-immigrant rhetoric coming from the Donald Trump White House was so dangerous, she wanted to see how it was affecting teens living on the border.
In 2018, Crow began production on At the Ready, a documentary that follows the mostly Mexican American students at Horizon High School in El Paso, Texas, as they participate in an after-school program that trains them to become border patrol agents and other law enforcement officers. During the film, students weigh their career options and confront the idea of joining a government agency that will provide them a steady career, but one that comes with broad criticism about their role in securing the border.
“Some of the students wrestled with whether this was a career path they wanted to pursue,” Crow told Remezcla during an interview last week. “At least one of the students was worried about the policies that were coming from the Trump administration and what that would mean for what she considered her ‘dream job.’ She was definitely struggling with that.”
According to 2016 statistics reported by the Los Angeles Times, more than 50% of Border Patrol agents are Latino. In one scene in At the Ready, it looks like recruiters from every law enforcement agency are in attendance during career day at the high school.
“One of the biggest career fields in El Paso is law enforcement,” Crow said. “If you look at these programs [like the one at Horizon High School], most of them are in rural and border regions and lower income communities across the state.”
Crow hopes her film conveys the complexities of Latino communities on the border region when it comes to cultural, political and economic issues. She also hopes that bipartisanship in Congress can finally happen on the broken immigration system.
“Discussions about immigration and the border have always been there,” she said. “I don’t know what the next four years are going to hold, but if we don’t start understanding these communities, we’re not going to make any progress.”
At the Ready made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival yesterday (Jan. 31). A second virtual screening will take place Tuesday (Feb. 2). Purchase tickets at the Sundance website.