Seven years ago, Emmy® Award winning filmmaker Lourdes Lee Vasquez sought to uncover the root-cause of mass, unauthorized migration in the United States, which led her to produce “one of the most important films of the century” called The Immigration Paradox. In the process of compiling interviews from a wide array of ordinary people and experts on immigration, from backgrounds that include economics, sociology, philosophy, history, public policy and activism, she discovered the far-reaching effects of immigration. This film is a must-watch at a crucial time like now when the United States is in strife regarding controversial legislative policies, such as Arizona’s SB 1070, the DREAM Act, and a potential comprehensive immigration reform. The Immigration Paradox is a call-to-action rooted in one person’s driven desire to further educate an entire country and ignite an in-depth conversation regarding the controversial issue at hand.
Throughout the documentary, Vasquez walks you through the difficult process of opening up her own mind to the beliefs and experiences of others. She explains that people often become so fixated on their own approach to an issue that they fail to see the opposing argument, which has led our country to become engulfed in a social trap, where all sides partake in mutually destructive offenses without a comprehensive solution. Experts such as Angela Kelley, Michele Waslin, and Dr. Michael L. Schwalbe speak of the outdated immigration system currently in place in our country and help explain the immigration paradox as a lack of consensus regarding the best solution to undocumented immigration.
The film also intertwines the touching story of Alejandro Hermosillo, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who migrated with his parents to the U.S. as a young child with big dreams and aspirations for the future. Alejandro speaks the crude reality of discrimination and inequality that immigrants often come to face in the land of opportunities. He puts a face to the similar stories of 11 million other undocumented immigrants who also risked their lives for a shot at a better life in “el Norte.”
Furthermore, the documentary’s images, statistics, and timeline depict the turmoil surrounding immigration and point to the importance of addressing it as a historical issue. As Vasquez takes you as far back as the 1600s, you will learn that we must first critically examine the history of migration in the United States before determining which economic, political, and social policies will end the vicious cycle of conflict in the U.S. Ultimately, the reality in Vasquez’ own words is that “Our repetition of history’s injustices is not normal. Hating each other is not normal. Inequality is not normal. Unless we decide to be a more informed and connected society, our reality will be that of exploitation and inequality, resulting in continued mass migration.”
Watch this insightful film, and allow it to open your eyes to others’ perspectives. Because, although it may be true that everyone is defending some self-interest in this social conflict, it is also true that if we all listen, discuss, and cooperate we may just be able to move towards a comprehensive solution to ending vicious cycle in which we are currently trapped. This heart wrenching, highly analytical, and informative film is the result of Vasquez’ faith in our country’s citizens, community leaders, and politicians. The Immigration Paradox calls for all people—whether rich or poor, democrat or republican, liberal or conservative, Mexican or American, legal or illegal—to commit to finding long-term solutions to fix the broken immigration system in our country. So, let us come together at the peace table to discuss, understand, and solve this issue, which affects us all.
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It is true that we all ultimately have some “self-interest” that drives out opinions in issues like these. The consequences of immigration are often only perceived as negative things that will take away from those of use who already “have” by those who “have not.” It is difficult to come to an agreement as a society but I think films like these have the potential to expand our views and catalyze change. Great article!
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