Friday, November 4, 2016
Shane Bauer in Mother Jones goes undercover with a border militia -- and we all should be concerned:
"I crawl out of the back of the pickup with my rifle in hand. "Keep your weapons nice and tight," Captain Pain orders. I am traveling light. Unlike the others, I don't view southern Arizona as a war zone, so I didn't put steel plates in my chest rig. Next to everyone else's commando-style AR-15s, my Ruger Mini-14 with a wood stock is slightly out of place. But everything else is square—I'm wearing a MultiCam uniform, desert tan combat boots, and a radio on my shoulder. I fit in just fine. We are in a Walmart parking lot in Nogales. Captain Pain and a couple of others go into the store to get supplies. In Pain's absence, Showtime is our commanding officer. He is a Marine special-ops veteran who did three tours in Afghanistan. He has camo paint on his face and a yeti beard. He gets in the cab to check Facebook on his phone while Destroyer, Jaeger, Spartan, and I stand with our backs to the truck, rifles in hand, keeping watch for anything suspicious. The Mexican border is three miles away."
Monday, October 31, 2016
Kelefa Sanneh in the October 31 New Yorker offers a balanced summary over the U.S. debates over immigration. I have some quibbles, including treating pundit Ann Coulter as if she were as scholarly a commentator on immigration as philosopher Joseph Carens.
Saturday, October 29, 2016
CNN reports that actress Lindsay Lohan has been helping Syrian refugees in Turkey. The actress is the brand ambassador for the blue caffeine lemonade Mintanine, which has partnered with her to aid refugees. The German company behind the drink, YNDA GmbH, said in a statement it has been working with Lohan since September. The "Mean Girls" star has been sharing images on social media of herself interacting with Syrian refugees and aid workers in Turkey.
Friday, October 28, 2016
We have just finished principal photography on a fiction feature film that aims to humanize some aspects of the immigration debate now raging, especially around the separation of families. "Collisions" is an engaging and entertaining story that is part buddy film, part road movie, and part “reverse coming of age story”. We are raising money for post production - $30,000 gets us to a complete cut of the film!
Why are we making this film?
When I began work on the script, my wife was a third grade teacher, and a child in her class recently had her father taken away and deported. It took weeks of building trust to find out why this girl, previously bright and engaged in class, was suddenly listless and prone to anger or tears at the slightest provocation. I interviewed her as part of my research. Her sadness, but also her bravery, hit me in the gut in a way that no headline or statistic ever could.
Immigration recently became one of the hottest topics with Obama’s executive action to stop the deportation of parents with US citizen children. Unfortunately this action has been blocked by a recent Supreme Court decision. The debate will reach fever pitch when the film is released in 2017, as the newly elected president has to decide whether to revoke the executive action. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of families continue to be forcibly separated every year. This film can be a focal point for those trying to understand the real families affected.
When twelve-year-old Itan, straight-A-smart, comes home from school in San Francisco, she is stunned to find their furniture up-ended, and no trace of her mother Yoana. Child Protective Services dumps Itan and her six-year-old brother Neto with their estranged uncle Evencio, a big rig truck driver. Itan can't stand him. He's arrogant, unreliable, and probably criminal. After a desperate search, Itan locates Yoana in an immigration detention center in Arizona and convinces Evencio to take them there.
They are propelled onto the road in Evencio’s truck, through the maddening labyrinth of immigration detention. Itan fights to free her mother before she is deported. But her mother keeps slipping from her grasp, as she is transferred from prison to prison. Their journey takes them through the deserts of the southern border, to sprawling truck stops, border patrol offices and secret immigration prisons.
In the close quarters of Evencio's truck cab, Itan and Neto begin to bring a better man out of Evencio. But Evencio abandons them just when it seems they have a chance of stopping their mother's deportation. Are they now truly on their own? Or will Evencio come through and reunite the family?
Well, now the musical is coming to you. On Tuesday December 13, it will be aired on big screens (aka in movie theaters) around the nation. Tickets are on sale now.
Here's a clip to whet your appetite. It's called Paradise, and it's a satire about the benefits of living in the Heart Mountain internment camp and the gall of being asked to complete questionnaires designed to suss out the residents' true allegiances.
If you watch the clip, you'll hear them mention Tule Lake (around 1:20). It's where they sent detainees who were determined to be national security threats. Do read the Maurice Roberts piece on his work as a post-war Tule Lake adjudicator. It will really frame the musical for you.
Monday, October 24, 2016
In this "60 Minutes" segment, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson explains the government's "thorough" vetting process for Syrian refugees. It sounds pretty thorough to me but apparently is not the "extreme vetting" called for by Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Sunday, October 16, 2016
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.
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Saturday, October 8, 2016
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.
Friday, October 7, 2016
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.
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.”
Monday, September 19, 2016
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.
Thursday, September 15, 2016
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.
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
At the Movies: 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.
Monday, September 5, 2016
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
Sunday, September 4, 2016
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:
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?
Saturday, August 27, 2016
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
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!
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
This video is part of the ICE on YouTube series.
Here is another.
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) - An Introduction
The videos remind me of Top Gun for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security.
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.