“The Divided” is the first series installment from Glassbreaker Films, an initiative supported by the Helen Gurley Brown Foundation, that aims to support women in documentary and investigative journalism. The series explores hopes, fears and actions that followed the 2016 presidential election. During the past year, our filmmakers traveled the country to meet people affected by issues that divide America.
Refuge in the Mountain State
In West Virginia, where almost 70 percent of the presidential vote went to Donald Trump, religious leaders of different faiths are working to find common ground and together offer a safe space for refugees. In December 2016, the West Virginia Interfaith Refugee Ministry received federal approval to resettle 100 refugees. Then, President Trump announced his controversial travel ban, which aimed to restrict the entry of refugees and nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Between Life and Death
President Donald Trump’s promise of a border wall has sparked wildly different reactions across the country. In southern Arizona, where long stretches of desert and extreme heat have killed thousands of migrants, water is the common ground between pro-immigrant activists and a rancher who backs the wall. Ahl Tamar and Katherine B. are volunteers with the humanitarian organization No More Deaths. They leave jugs of water on trails where migrants are known to travel. Both say they fear that a border wall would not deter people from attempting to cross, and only push them to more dangerous routes. Meanwhile, Jim Chilton, a rancher in the area, has given water to desperate migrants who’ve traversed his property after crossing the border. But Chilton says he supports Trump’s border wall because he is frustrated that people die on his property and believes a wall would prevent future tragedies.
Fought for, Forgotten
Competing threats to the bayous of Louisiana are leaving some Donald Trump supporters torn between the president’s various policies. The shrimping industry, which accounts for 15,000 jobs in the state, has seen a drastic decline in sales due to international imports. And while Trump’s “America first” promises have given shrimpers hope, he has also made devastating cuts in environmental funding that would drastically damage the fragile bayous. Between 1932 and 2010, southern Louisiana has lost, on average, a football field of land to coastal erosion every hour. And it’s estimated that by 2100, rising sea levels across the country will force 13 million people to move away from their homes on American coasts.
A Divided Road
Shortly after President Donald Trump’s election, two friends, Lauren and Martina, decided to provide free legal aid to people living in the country without permission. They left their home in New York and traveled across the country by van to meet people in need of help. Lauren is an immigration lawyer and Martina is an immigrant from Mexico. In just a few months, they traveled to 12 states and estimated they advised nearly 200 immigrants on a shoestring budget.
Despite being the nation’s leader in coal production, Wyoming has experienced about 1,000 layoffs in the coal industry in 2016. President Donald Trump has promised to bring back coal, but so far, former miners like James Hart have not had any luck finding new jobs. Instead, Hart is putting his hopes into renewable energy and a growing sector of jobs at wind farms.