Shining a Light on Immigration — alum puts himself in harm’s way to tell the stories


Dr. Roy Germano (Trinity, ’98) in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, filming a new episode of his VICE News documentary series, “Immigrant America.”

Robert Davis, Staff Reporter

A documentary filmmaker, Dr. Roy Germano will put himself in harm’s way to tell his stories. The 1998 Trinity graduate creates films about immigration in America and the treatment of immigrants.

Germano said, “My first film premiered at the Las Vegas Film Festival about five and half years ago.”

Why does he focus on immigration? “I was doing my doctoral research in Mexico about seven years ago on the causes of illegal immigration,” he said. “I began filming some of the interviews I was conducting in the Mexican countryside and later taught myself how to edit them. That’s what got me started making films about immigration.”

Germano said Trinity helped guide him into the film industry. “My favorite courses at Trinity were video production and broadcast journalism,” he said. “There was always a part of me that hoped to work with video in my career.”

Germano’s work entitled “They Steal Our Jobs?” is about immigrants doing grueling work at a dairy farm, where most Americans would not work. It’s about the fear of the authorities the immigrants feel on a daily basis.  While working on the film, Germano experienced “disbelief mostly. Dairy farms can’t recruit enough American workers, and Congress doesn’t give them a way to hire immigrant workers legally, so most farms have at least a few undocumented workers.

“The owners of the farms, who tend to be Americans, are living in fear that they’ll be raided by immigration authorities, as are their undocumented workers. I didn’t realize there was so much fear and sneaking around involved with producing something as simple as milk.”

Germano discussed the tough process of creating a documentary of this kind.  “With this documentary and every other I’ve worked on, there was a constant push to get enough access and footage to tell the story correctly,” he said. “Then after you get back from the field, (there are) many long weeks of editing the footage and writing the narration. It’s exhausting but rewarding when you finish.”

Germano said he just finished making a film on Sept. 8 entitled “Murder and Migration in Honduras.” He said, “We’re telling the story of why so many people—especially single moms and children—have been emigrating from Honduras in recent years. This piece is part of the ‘Immigrant America’ documentary series I produce for VICE News.”

Germano said the reason he decided to go to Honduras was because “it’s a big story. Illegal immigration from Central America has quintupled over the past few years, and we wanted to find out why.”

He described his experience in Honduras as “eye-opening and very sad in terms of the violence, poverty, and despair. But I also met a lot of wonderful people down there and came away with an even greater appreciation of the peace, stability and prosperity we enjoy in the U.S.”

Danger was part of working on this film, Germano said.  “There was one night when we were pretty worried. We were covering a murder scene in the most dangerous, gang-infested neighborhood in the country. As we were leaving the area, the old van we rented couldn’t make it up a hill on a gravel road. We got stuck, tires spinning. Our military escort didn’t notice that we were stuck and sped off. There were a few minutes while our wheels were turning on the gravel that I wondered if we were going to make it out.”

As with all his work, Germano said, he learns more about the world.  “I learned that the violence and fear of violence down there are very real. Anyone can be killed at anytime for any reason. There’s no deterrent because the criminal justice system is nonexistent. Most crimes are not investigated and go unpunished.”