THE FILM 

     On October 10, 2012, It took 34 Seconds for Border Patrol Agent Lonnie Swartz to shoot 16-year-old Jose Antonio Rodriguez ten times in the back, through the US-Mexico border fence.

In total, Swartz fired sixteen shots into Mexico as he fired his weapon through the border wall that separates Nogales, Arizona from Nogales, Sonora.

 

Border patrol agents stated that Rodriguez was throwing rocks at them. Witness reports state that he was simply walking down the street, at the time of the shooting. There is video surveillance of the incident but the original copy of the tape was lost or destroyed by the border patrol.

In total, Swartz fired sixteen shots into Mexico as he fired his weapon through the border wall that separates Nogales, Arizona from Nogales, Sonora.

Agent Swartz was charged with second-degree murder but was acquitted on all charges by a jury in May of 2018. It was the first time in history that a US Border Patrol agent was charged in a cross border homicide.

     On June 6, 2010, 16 -year, old Sergio Hernandez was gunned down at the US - Mexico border that separates El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez. The situation was strikingly similar to the one in Nogales. Sergio and his friends were playing a game along the border wall when he was shot by Border Patrol agent Jesus Mesa Jr. Mesa was standing on the Texas side of the border when he fired into Mexico striking the teen numerous times in the face. Again, the justification was that the children were throwing rocks. Video evidence contradicts those claims. Both of these cases are similar in the way they were handled by the Border Patrol and U.S. Government.

      Claudia Patricia Gómez González was from a rural village in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. 76% of people living in that area live below the poverty line. Claudia saw migrating to the United States as her only hope. She was coming to America to pursue her love of numbers and accounting. On May 7, 2018, Claudia started the fateful 1,500 - mile journey to the United States. Two weeks later, on May 23, 2018, Claudia was shot and killed by a US Border Patrol Agent. She was killed one mile north of the border in Rio Bravo, Texas.  Agents originally stated that Claudia and the group she was with attacked them with plywood. The Border Patrol changed their story twice leaving many questions unanswered. Claudia's story of migration is not unique. Roughly 1% of Guatemala's population attempted to migrate north in 2018. Nine out of ten say it was due to severe drought, lack of work, and extreme poverty. A majority of those people migrating were children.

  

 In 2018-2019 nearly 70,000 children were held in ICE facilities. In December of 2018, two of those children died while in custody. They were respectively 7 and 8 years old. Political blame games ensued and what exactly happened to the two children is unclear. The White House blamed the family, while many people blamed CBP/ICE for negligence. Four months later, Trump would embark on his zero-tolerance policy that began separating migrant children from their parents in hopes of deterring other migrants. In May of 2018, it was reported that the federal government lost track of more than 1,500 migrant children. Some experts claim the number to be as high as 6,000. The same immigration policies that enabled two unarmed children to be shot are the ones that enabled the separation and mass incarceration of migrant children. 

 

Set against the turbulent atmosphere of the U.S.-Mexico border, 34 Seconds is a feature-length documentary exploring the death of these five children. The Film also chronicles corruption, criminal activity, and a xenophobic culture that is alive and well within the Border Patrol. We are also exploring the roots of migration, the militarization of the border, per profit detention centers and racist rhetoric, that are contributing to innocent people dying at the US – Mexico border.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Mission Statement 

This film is a vehicle to create awareness, social change and demand accountability for the families of these innocent victims.

We want to portray a balanced story that accurately presents the facts and gets both sides of the narrative. We realize that the job of a Border Patrol Agent can be dangerous and the issue of immigration has stakes on both sides. We have interviewed people with opposing views in order to get their perspective and an understanding of where they stand on the issues.  Many people living along the border feel trapped between immigration, the drug trade, and the Border Patrol. We spoke with some of these people to explore ideas for solutions.  We realize that it's much more complicated than party lines and political views. 

It's a modern-day David vs. Goliath in which these families are demanding answers and justice from the US government. We want to bring the audience into this complex situation. We want the audience to feel concerned about these cases and demand accountability. We want the audience to see the implications for citizens living along a changing border that historically has shared a rich and cooperative culture. This is 34 Seconds.