The Immigration Debate Goes Hollywood

March 27, 2012
A Better Life star Demián Bichir discusses his role as an undocumented day laborer

We like a movie with a call for justice, and A Better Life is the newest on our must-watch list. This critically acclaimed film has the potential to better shape our views on immigration policy or, rather, the issues that lead to immigration into the US.

The story, set in East L.A., follows Carlos Galindo, an undocumented single father who struggles as a day laborer to make a future of peace, opportunity and economic stability possible for his US-born son.

The movie struck a chord with UFE's Jeannette Huezo:

"People watching A Better Life can see the immigration debate through a human lens. This film can help people to see the social costs of policies that attack immigrants and tear their families apart. Thousands of people face the same challenges and devastations as the Galindos everyday. Anti-immigrant laws like those passed in Alabama, Arizona, California, and other states make those stories all the more frequent."

Immigration policy and immigrant-related issues continue to be a political third rail. A lot of that has to do with the complexity of the issue(s). It's not just an immigration problem. It's about cheap labor. It's about international trade and foreign policy. It's about national security. It's about human rights. It's about a lot of things, and despite what you might hear from mainstream media, it can't boiled down to a soundbite because it's connected to a lot of rarely connected issues.

George Lakoff points out the difficulty of the framing of the immigration issue in our environment of political polarization:

"[The immigration issue] is a complex melange of social, economic, cultural and security concerns — with conservatives and progressives split in different ways with different positions. Framing the recent problem as an 'immigration problem' pre-empts many of these considerations from entering the debate. As a consequence, any reform that 'solves' the immigration problem is bound to be a patchwork solution addressing bits and pieces of much larger concerns."

No one wins with policies that attack immigrants and cause the forced abandonment of children by undocumented parents. Still, there are a lot of xenophobic politicians and pundits out there who zealously support those policies. Ironically, those are often the same talking heads that endlessly beat their "family values" drums, especially during campaign season.

Help to move the public conversation in a better direction by sharing the film with your network. Stop the scapegoating of immigrants by encouraging a more robust dialogue about the many factors that contribute to our "immigration problem." As more people see the bigger picture and take action for immigrant rights, we'll build more power for a rational policy response.

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Thumbnail graphic h/t NDLON

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