Off the Tracks Theater’s presentation of “Are You Bringing Something from Mexico” offers a timely and stark reminder that undocumented immigrants in the United States have often faced a biased and brutal justice system that violates their basic human rights. The play by Mexican playwright Daimary Sanchez Moreno is based on the real life stories of undocumented immigrants from Mexico: Maria Rosa Sanchez, who was falsely imprisoned in the 1980s and finally declared innocent 23 years later; Rosa Estela Olvera Jimenez who is currently serving a life sentence in Texas despite experts declaring she received an unfair trial; and Anastasio Hernandez Rojas who was beaten to death by border patrol agents in California in 2010.
Director Juan Parada explains, “Today’s headlines are shining a global spotlight on injustices at the border but the reality is that undocumented immigrants in the U.S. have been dehumanized for years. Are You Bringing Something from Mexico was written nearly a decade ago but its message is even more urgent and relevant today as thousands of immigrant families are being detained and put at the mercy of the U.S. justice system. The title comes from the question asked by Homeland Security at every port of entry into the U.S. For immigrants in search of a better life, the answer is both dreams and sacrifice.”
“Are You Bringing Something from Mexico” follows Don Adolfo, who leaves everything behind in Mexico to find his daughter, Maria, in the United States. Don Adolfo is unaware that his daughter is imprisoned, unjustly convicted of a crime. He is accompanied on his journey through the desert by a young, eager immigrant who is determined to reunite with his sister. Both Don Adolfo and his companion are, in reality, spirits on the journey. They are coldly identified as John DoF (Died on the Field) 1 and John DoF 2, just two more immigrants who’ve lost their lives in the desert as they journey north. In the United States, we meet Miraclo, a migrant farmer who is imprisoned after defending his brother from a fatal beating by border patrol agents. On the other side of the border, Mika, Maria’s daughter yearns for her mother and grandfather. Nana, Mika’s grandmother, cares for her and tries to protect her from their harsh reality.