Netflix's latest docuseries Living Undocumented offers a sobering look into the reality that immigrants without papers are facing these days in the United States.
The series looks at eight different families living in Texas, California, South Carolina, Maryland, Florida and Wisconsin, and documents ten months of their journey to try and stay in the U.S. from April 2018 to January 2019.
Here's what you need to know about Living Undocumented's Luis Diaz and his partner Kenia.
Here's what you need to know about Luis, Kenia and Noah.
Luis is the first person we meet in Living Undocumented, and he explains how he has been working hard as a construction worker, building homes, schools, parking lots, you name it, since he first arrived from Honduras in 2012.
His trip to the U.S. was a harrowing one that took him over a month. He took several trains, buses, and even walked for three days straight in the desert. Once he arrived in the States, he went straight to work and couldn't believe he'd earned $40 for a day, a sum he could only have dreamed of back home.
A few years after his arrival, his childhood friend and soon-to-be partner Kenia arrived to the States from Honduras. Like Luis, she came without papers. When we meet Luis, Kenia is being detained by ICE in Kansas City, Missouri, and he is making an 11.5 hour drive to drop off Kenia's son, 3-year-old Noah, who he cares for like his own, to be deported back to Honduras along with his mother.
Before she was detained, Kenia was living completely under the radar until a routine traffic stop happened on the way to Luis' brother's wedding. Although Luis was driving, all the passengers in his car were ordered to show their papers, something their lawyer says is a new Trump-era protocol.
The fact that Kenia was already pregnant with Luis' baby didn't stop ICE officials from detaining her, though it made finding legal representation a bit easier.
Where are Luis, Kenia and Noah now?
Once at ICE, where Luis is planning on dropping Noah to be deported with his mother, the ICE agents trick Luis into thinking that he won't be detained as he's saying goodbye. This turns out not to be the case at all, and Luis is detained for two months, while the mother and son are sent back to Honduras, and their lawyer is injured by ICE officials.
But that's not where Luis, Kenia and Noah's story ends. It's important to remember the first lines of Living Undocumented: "You can watch one documentary and you can say, 'Well this is too bad,' but at the end of the day, it's just something that you're watching n TV and you can turn that off and you can go about your life."
Theirs is a truly heartwrenching story for any viewer who is an immigrant, child of immigrants, or has even known an immigrant in their life.
When her pregnancy is almost to term, Kenia hires coyotes, or human traffickers, to help her and Noah leave Honduras once again because her ex-husband, a police officer, has been stalking her and making her fear for her life.
The moments when Luis and Kenia are reunited are anxiety inducing, but also offer a brief moment of joy for viewers. As director and producer Anna Chai told Vulture, "When Luis and Kenia got reunited at the bus station, we stopped filming and all of us in the crew just sobbed for 15 minutes."
"The whole time, you're expecting something bad to happen, so when something good happens, you really celebrate, even if it's just for a few minutes," she continued. "A project like this is never going to leave you. You can't have people bare their secrets and expect that doesn't leave a mark on you."
Luis said in an email to Vulture that he's grateful he participated in the documentary. "We are happy with the idea that the country would understand what we go through as immigrants," he wrote. "I was motivated to take part in this project because I didn't want anyone else to live through the same horrible experiences that I survived with my family."
He added, "For us, the only thing left to do is move past all of that and continue fighting for our happiness."
Living Undocumented is now streaming on Netflix.