Phase I

Creating a Break for Impact

Brownsville, Texas – February 2020

In February of 2020, the University of Central Florida’s Center for Distributed Learning (CDL) was commissioned to produce educational video content for the Legal Studies department’s online curriculum. The CDL video team planned to document Dr. Irene Pons and four students in her Immigration Law and Policy class, as they traveled to Texas to volunteer with organizations fighting the humanitarian crisis along the Texas-Mexico border.

The objective was to capture the complete experience and share the findings with the class.  Like most Americans, the group’s only knowledge of the ongoing crisis came from stories shared by the national news media. Dr. Pons and her students were eager to get a first-hand account. They realized the stories they were hoping to capture might challenge their understanding, but they were unprepared for the spectrum of humanity they encountered. 

What they found was a dysfunctional and punitive system that is designed to mislead and reject migrants desperately seeking asylum. They also saw the intense compassion of the volunteers and organizations that are determined to bring critical aid to the men, women, and children trapped in limbo on the border. They saw hope.

One constant in their experience was being told “no, you cannot film”, a validation of the goal to bear witness and bring back the truth. The material captured in Texas and Mexico was packaged into an educational docuseries as well as feature-length and short subject documentaries.

One trip to the border is not enough. There is work to do to help improve the lives of those affected by our current immigration policies. A Break for Impact is more than a documentary; it is a movement. It is a platform to connect volunteers with organizations on the ground. To connect people and resources so we can make a difference where it matters most.