Sunday, October 16, 2016

At the Movies: Desierto


From Jonás Cuarón and Alfonso Cuarón, the acclaimed filmmakers of Gravity, comes a unique, modern vision of terror.  Desierto is a visceral, heart-pounding suspense-thriller packed with tension and suspense from start to finish, starring Gael García Bernal (The Motorcycle Diaries and Y Tu Mamá También) and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen). What begins as a hopeful journey to seek a better life becomes a harrowing and primal fight for survival when a deranged, rifle-toting vigilante chases a group of unarmed men and women through the treacherous U.S.-Mexican border.  In the harsh, unforgiving desert terrain, the odds are stacked firmly against them as they continuously discover there’s nowhere to hide from the unrelenting, merciless killer.

The film, which is in American theaters now, attempts to humanize immigrants, something that is quite different than what Donald Trump does in his anti-immigration rhetoric.  For a review in TIME, click here.


October 16, 2016 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Trump and Colbert Spar (Humorously) on Immigration

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Trump's uncensored lewd comments about women from 2005


Donald Trump is making news again.  Can his campaign recover?  WARNING: This story contains graphic language. Donald Trump bragged about trying to have sex with a married woman and being able to grope women in previously unaired footage from 2005. 

CNN ("Donald Trump to Howard Stern: It's okay to call my daughter a 'piece of ass'" )later reported on sexual banter between radio shock jock Howard Stern, with audio clips, and Trump over a number of years.


October 8, 2016 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 7, 2016

Modern Immigration Stories Might Be TV's Next Trend

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Vanity Fair has a story on a possible new television trend -- immigration stories on television. 

Diane Guerrero , who has had supporting roles in Orange Is the New Black and Jane the Virgin, will star in an upcoming drama about immigration on CBS. The show is based on Guerrero's memoir, In the Country We Love, which details her immigration experiences. When she was 14, Guerrero's parents were deported to Colombia. Guerrero, who was born in the United States, remained here and was raised by friends and family. Now she is an outspoken advocate for immigration reform

The television show will revolve around a corporate attorney with a similar past who decides to start handling pro-bono cases for undocumented immigrants, Deadline reports.




October 7, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Migration Enforcement in Mexico: New Report Reveals Asylum Requests are at a Record High while Apprehensions and Deportations Continue


In the context of the Leaders’ Summit on the Global Refugee Crisis that the Mexican government is co-hosting, WOLA (the Washington Office on Latin America) is releasing a new joint report that reveals that 2016 is the year with the highest number of asylum requests on record in Mexico. Meanwhile migrant apprehensions and deportations dramatically increased in recent years and continue unabated.

The report finds that, despite the increase in apprehensions, Mexico has failed to strengthen its capacity to adequately screen migrants who might be eligible for protection, raising concerns about migrants’ rights and due process. The report is accompanied by a WOLA video series featuring Central American migrant children who describe why they left their home countries and their experiences being deported from Mexico. As the Mexican government tries to position itself as a global leader on refugee issues, it must first address the serious shortcomings in its attention to Central Americans seeking asylum and migrants victims of crime in the country.

The report, which was produced in collaboration with the Mexican organization Fundar: Centro de Análisis e Investigación and the Migrant Shelter “Frontera con Justicia,” in Saltillo, Coahuila, explores how the implementation in 2014 of Mexico’s “Southern Border program” resulted in a massive increase in migration enforcement along the border with Central America. Mexico’s apprehensions of migrants went from 86,298 in 2013 to 198,141 in 2015, and there have already been 99,768 apprehensions in the first seven months of 2016. At the same time, asylum requests are on the rise, growing from 1,296 in 2013 to 3,424 in 2015. In the first six months of 2016, Mexico has already received 3,486 requests, the highest on record. In 2015 and 2016, over 92 percent of the asylum requests came from Honduran, Guatemalan, and Salvadoran citizens.

Mexico keeps prioritizing deportations over protecting migrants who might be fleeing danger,” said Maureen Meyer, Senior Associate for Mexico and Migrant Rights at WOLA. “These hardline policies have proven ineffective at deterring migration, have violated human rights, and have exposed migrants to abuses, corruption, and violence.



September 20, 2016 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 19, 2016

TV Writers Win Emmy For Episode About Immigrant Parents

Yang and Aziz from the Peabody Awards

Writer/actor Aziz Ansari and writer Alan Yang won an emmy last night for their show Master of None (streaming on Netflix). They were specifically honored for their episode "Parents," which is all about immigrant parents and their children.

Yang has said of the episode: "that was really meaningful to us because it felt like a story that we hadn't seen told that much on TV before."

Last night, Yang had this to say: "Asian parents out there... if you could just do me a favor, just a couple of you: get your kids cameras instead of violins. We'll be all good."

You can check out the episode for yourself on Netflix. It's Season 1, Episode 2.


September 19, 2016 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

At the Movies: Lupe Under the Sun


Lupe Under The Sun A portrait of migrant farmworkers grappling with the faultlines of the American Dream

Director Rodrigo Reyes,. Producer Su Kim, 78 Minutes, 2016 In Spanish and English / Spanish Subtitles

Long estranged from his family in Michoacán, migrant laborer Lupe finds relief from the backbreaking work of harvesting peaches in California’s Central Valley through beer- drenched camaraderie and a quiet love affair with fellow immigrant Gloria. Soon the stability of his daily routine begins to crack under the weight of a life scarred with regret and missed opportunities. Filmed in a classic neorealist style, director Rodrigo Reyes’s deeply moving debut fiction feature, inspired by the life of his own grandfather, is at once an intimately drawn meditation on life’s missed chances and a tale of the universal struggles of immigrants. Winner of Film Independent’s Canon Filmmaker Award, Reyes’s unforgettable film heralds the arrival of an important new voice in American cinema.

Watch the trailer for the film at the link above.


September 15, 2016 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

At the Movies: Purgatorio: A unique cinematic experience to take us deep into the heart of the US-Mexico border



Purgatorio:  A unique cinematic experience to take us deep into the heart of the US-Mexico border

Rodrigo Reyes’ provocative essay film re-imagines the Mexico/U.S. border as a mythical place comparable to Dante’s purgatory. Leaving politics aside, he takes a fresh look at the brutal beauty of the border and the people caught in its spell. By capturing a stunning mosaic of compelling characters and broken landscapes that live on the US/Mexico border, the filmmaker reflects on the flaws of human nature and the powerful absurdities of the modern world. An unusual border film, in the auteur tradition of camerastylo, Purgatorio ultimately becomes a fable of humanity, an epic and visceral experience with powerful and lingering images. 

Click here for  more on the film.


September 14, 2016 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 5, 2016

Labor Day Movie: The Hand That Feeds (Documentary 2015)


The Hand That Feeds

Shy sandwich-maker Mahoma López unites his undocumented immigrant coworkers to fight abusive conditions at a popular New York restaurant chain.

At a popular bakery café, residents of New York's Upper East Side get bagels and coffee served with a smile 24 hours a day. But behind the scenes, undocumented immigrant workers face sub-legal wages, dangerous machinery, and abusive managers who will fire them for calling in sick. Mild-mannered sandwich maker Mahoma López has never been interested in politics, but in January 2012, he convinces a small group of his co-workers to fight back.

Risking deportation and the loss of their livelihood, the workers team up with a diverse crew of innovative young organizers and take the unusual step of forming their own independent union, launching themselves on a journey that will test the limits of their resolve. In one roller-coaster year, they must overcome a shocking betrayal and a two-month lockout. Lawyers will battle in back rooms, Occupy Wall Street protesters will take over the restaurant, and a picket line will divide the neighborhood. If they can win a contract, it will set a historic precedent for low-wage workers across the country. But whatever happens, Mahoma and his coworkers will never be exploited again.

Directed by Rachel Lears, Robin Blotnick
Executive Producer: Alex Rivera
Co-Producer: Patricia Benabe
Director of Photography: Rachel Lears
Editors: Robin Blotnick, David Meneses
Original Score: Ryan Blotnick
Executive Producer for LPB: Sandie Viquez Pedlow
A production of Jubilee Films in association with Latino Public Broadcasting, Chicken & Egg Pictures and Vineyard Point Productions with major funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting


September 5, 2016 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 4, 2016

First Generation

First Generation is a documentary that follows four high school students - an inner city athlete, a small town waitress, a Samoan warrior dancer, and the daughter a migrant field worker (with a deported dad) - each of whom wants to be the first member of their family to go to college. 

The movie is uniquely beneficial for non-first-generation professors. It offers insight into the tremendous hurdles faced by our first generation students.

And, of course, there's the heart-wrenching immigration story embedded in there. Not to give too much away, but what's an ambitious high school senior to do when the family is thinking about relocating to Mexico because of dad's deportation?

There's a three hour version of the film, and a one hour version. I'll be honest, I took the 60 minutes route. It's free. You can watch it here:



September 4, 2016 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Nation Awaits Explanation of Melania Trump's Immigration to US


The 2016 Presidential campaign has been focused this week on Donald Trump's visit with the President of Mexico and his immigration speech in Arizona. 

Philip Bump of the The Washington Post reminds us that, just a few weeks ago, Trump pledged that his wife, Melania, a native of Slovenia, would hold a news conference explaining how she managed to navigate the onerous process of getting a green card. He made the pledge after a number of outlets raised questions about the timeline of her entry into the country.  Bunp explains"It's not clear what visa Trump used to enter the country and how it related to her work experience — but she asserts that she has always been in full compliance with immigration laws. If that's not true, it's a problem."

When is that press conference?


September 4, 2016 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 27, 2016

At the Movies: Viva Los Icons: A Documentary


We all have heard the words "Build a Wall!"
In the past year or so more and more discriminatory policies have been adopted, like the banning of Chicano Studies In Phoenix or the racist text book that will soon be available in all Texas Schools

This is where our documentary comes in

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Viva Los Icons is a documentary by Eduardo A. Tobias that will celebrate the positive contributions of Chicano Art and the importance of Chicano Studies

Viva los Icons is a traveling documentary that follows Jesse Borrego and Adan Hernandez and they teach our youth about the contirbutions of Chicanos in the Arts. It will shed a light into the importance of Chicano Studies and Chicano contributions to our country.

 On our Journey to Albuqerque, New Mexico, I decided to ask the question that has been the fuel behind The Chicano movement and this documentary. "What does it mean to be Chicano?" As a young filmmaker from San Antonio, Texas; I have never had the pleasure of being able to identify myself as Mexican, or American. I have been stuck somewhere in the abyss, with no identity.

Growing up, my school textbooks never taught me about the history behind the Chicano civil rights movements, the pride that flows from generation to generation, and the remnants of our culture that still remain through the lands of Aztlan. It has become my mission to further my education through the Chicanos I meet and to use my art to help get their Untold Stories out to the mainstream public.

Our main goal is to enlighten the world on the Chicano Icons that had to endure oppression, which has allowed the youth of today to stand on the shoulders of their Chicano ancestors.

The best way to share stories, is through the ART! 


August 27, 2016 in Books, Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Enforcement and Removal Operations - An Introduction

Anglo Attitudes, Latino Segregation in the OC


This story in the Orange County Weekly highlights the result of a new UCLA study showing that, even with rising diversity, Orange County, California isn't becoming as integrated as one would hope when it comes to Latina/os.


Celia Lacayo, a postdoctoral scholar at UCLA's Institute of American Cultures, surveyed 40 white Orange County residents.  Chosen at random, the whites surveyed ranged from 25 to 61, with most being middle- to upper-class professionals. They split almost evenly along political lines. All but two already lived in mostly white neighborhoods.

Some of the survey responsess were revealing.  The Respondents frequently expressed that they felt most comfortable in homogenous white areas. Lola, a 25-year-old director of marketing, stated:

Obviously, I wouldn’t feel comfortable living in a neighborhood that was mostly Hispanic. I would feel completely out of place. I would much rather live in a neighborhood that was predominantly white. I think . . . being around people that kind of look like each other . . . I mean, it goes back to having the same type of background.

Mark, a 42-year-old owner of a repo company, stated:

Hispanics, they just don’t fit in. The Mexicans go to the beach, and I don’t know why they always swim in their clothes. That’s always pondered me; but they’ll walk on the sand,  they’ll stay on the boardwalk, and they’ll stop right in the middle of the boardwalk and they’ll drag their boogie board or their cooler. They have a wet dirty blanket and they’ll drag it; and they’ll stop on the boardwalk. They’ll just stop there. And it’s like get out of the way. How stupid are you? It’s like you’re a nuisance. Get out of here.



August 24, 2016 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Nigerian man making Africans laugh

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Donald: Melania Trump to Hold Press Conference on Her Immigration Story

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The controversy surrounding gaps in Melania Trump's immigration story continues. 

CNN reports that Donald Trump announced late yesterday that his wife will hold a news conference "over the next couple of weeks" to address reports that she violated immigration laws when she first came to the U.S.  Trump said his wife would prove that "she came in totally legally."

The New York Post last week published photos of Melania Trump in 1995, quickly raising questions about whether the former model had obtained the appropriate visa to work as a model in the United States. 
The Republican nominee floated the upcoming news conference just hours after he stoked yet another controversy by suggesting that gun owners could take action to stop rival Hillary Clinton from appointing judges who would infringe Second Amendment rights, should she be elected president.

August 10, 2016 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 1, 2016

Farewell Ferris Wheel: A Documentary about Migrant Carnival Workers

You might want to think twice before you take the kids to the next local fair or carnival. This fall, PBS will air Farewell Ferris Wheel, which premiered earlier this summer during the local  AFI DOCS Film Festival.  This is a must-see film for anyone with an interest in labor rights and the U.S.'s dependence on immigrant workers.
Farewell Ferris Wheel spends six years exploring how the U.S. Carnival industry fights to keep itself alive by legally employing Mexican migrant workers with H-2B guestworker visas.

Set in the greater DC area, the documentary follows seasonal workers from Veracruz, Mexico on temporary U.S. work visas (H-2Bs).  For eight months each year, the Mexicans labor for "Jolly Shows", a company operating carnivals in the region. 

Farewell Ferris Wheel introduces audiences to both sides of the labor shortage. 

The job is grueling. Employees, separated from family, work up to 20 hours per day setting-up, operating, and taking down the rides and equipment.  They are paid little and subjected to squalid living conditions, including lack of running water and electricity.  When on-the-job injuries happen, Jolly Shows is reluctant to assist with medical care.  Nevertheless, the workers return year after year.  We learn that nearly one-third of U.S. carnival workers hail from Tlapacoyan, Mexico.

Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc.(CDM), a close friend of Grossman Law, and a reputable local non-profit organization with offices in Mexico, is featured in the Film for its advocacy for increased oversight of the carnival industry.



August 1, 2016 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Lena Dunham And America Ferrera Slam Trump At Democratic Convention


At the Democratic Convention yesterday, Hillary Clinton was nominated for President.  In one of the speeches in support of Clinton, Lena Dunham And America Ferrera slammed Donald Trump.  For what it is worth, Ferrara was born in Los Angeles and her parents are from Honduras.

Best line of the speech:  "Look," America said, "Donald's not making America great again. He's making America hate again. And the vast majority of us, we cannot afford to see his vision of America come to be." 


July 27, 2016 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Aboard a Mediterranean rescue ship, migrants share horror stories from Libya

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Movie Review: The Immigrant (on Netflix and DVD)

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I give it 1.5 stars

The Immigrant, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner, is now streaming on Netflix. You might be tempted to watch it. Save yourself almost two hours and just watch the first six minutes.

The story involves a young Polish woman, Ewa, coming to the United States with her sister in the early 1920s. The sister is detained for being a TB risk. Ewa is initially marked for deportation as a woman suspected of low moral virtue. But she's "rescued" by an American man who turns out to be a pimp. Ewa becomes a prostitute, hoping to save enough money to free her sister from Ellis Island.

Joaquin Phoenix is great. He does crazed pimp oddly well. But overall the movie offers little for the immprof after the first six minutes. (Frankly, it offers little for any movie watcher immprof or not. It's just not a great movie).

As for those few nuggets, check out 1:04-3:13, which shows the sister being screened and taken away for TB treatment and 3:63-5:57, which shows Ewa's initial screening.

The biggest plus to clicking on and watching that intro materials is that Neflix will then make a series of recommendations for you of other immigrant movies. Score.


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July 14, 2016 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)