Miguel Celeste was 10 and had already attempted to cross into the United States twice. In 1998, on the third try, he finally made it through. Two days later, he reunited with his father, who was working in Siler City, North Carolina.
Miguel has vivid memories of walking through the desert near Arizona with his mother and younger sister. He recalls climbing to the top of a big yellow border fence and being terrified to look down before jumping to the other side. These days, he says he tries not look out of windows when he’s high up because “it just does not go well for me.”
The video above is part of a series called “Borders Beyond Borders,” an oral history project between Duke’s Forum for Publics and Scholars and reporters and producers from The New York Times and Fusion.
North Carolina has the fastest growing Latino population in the country. According to Census data, the Latino demographic grew 394% between 1990 and 2000, from 76,726 to 378,963 in 2000, outpacing growth in the state’s white and black population.
There are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, about 4.4 million of whom are under the age of 30, according to the think tank Pew.
Some 638,000 young people have been approved for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a 2012 program introduced by the Obama Administration that allows young immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16 to apply for temporary legal status and relief from deportation.