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"This was not a good week for immigration reform", reports La Opinión. "The Obama Administration continues adding to the domestic pressure by handing down more controversial decisions ...The Department of Homeland Security expanded the 287(g) Program so that there are 11 more localities in the country where police will help capture and remove individuals that are considered "dangerous criminal aliens." The problem is that the new agreement doesn't guarantee an end to the abuses committed in violation of the federal guidelines by local police and sheriffs when they arrest peaceful laborers instead".
At the same time, Congress is passing "measures that continues the piecemeal approach to immigration policy and puts comprehensive reform at further risk by taking away important issues that could be used in the negotiations for a just and fair reform." (read the full article here)
The Reform Immigration for America Campaign is calling for action: "This week, we need to make sure that Senators hear directly from you. What the nation needs is a comprehensive immigration reform to fix our broken immigration system. Sideshow amendments like the ones added to the Senate Homeland Security appropriations bill are distractions and potential obstacles to real solutions that the vast majority of Americans are calling for. The Campaign sent out targeted alerts both for Senators who voted conscientiously, and for Senators who chose bad politics over good immigration policy."
Because Made in L.A. portrays the struggle of many undocumented workers, a humane immigration reform is one of the key actions we hope the film helps spark. We're following closely all the developments of this important legislation so that millions of people in this country, like the women in the film, can live their lives with dignity in this country. Take action now! Send a fax to Congress in support of a comprehensive immigration reform!
Bishop Minerva Carcaño of Phoenix, Arizona, chair of the task force, says that the story in the film "beautifully illustrates the courage, perseverance, and strength that these women show daily in caring for their families, contributing to their communities, organizing to overcome exploitation, and building a life that is both inspiring and challenging." "In the end, these women discover the power of their collective voice as they stand together in unity against exploitation... After watching Made in LA, I know you and your church will be inspired to join in the movement for comprehensive immigration reform," the bishop writes in the introduction.
For details and the entire announcement, click here.
I was impacted when I saw the photos: "my image" speaking to hundreds of attendees in huge hall!
The Spirit of Humanity Award, as it states in the plaque, "honors an exemplary filmmaker and activist who uses film as an important social instrument to advance, celebrate, and promote humanity. This award is presented to Almudena Carracedo for her selfless dedication to uphold democracy, equal opportunity, and basic human rights as experienced in her directorial feature Made in L.A." How beautiful...
"I saw the film twice... it's really impressive and with so many similarities to my life, and to the life to millions of workers in the US. When I arrived to California I also worked in a textile company...
[Made in L.A.] shows the transformation of three beautiful women, who in the process of achieving justice for themselves as women and their dignity, were able to learn what few immigrants are able to do for fear of reprisals.
The story of Maura, who ahs spent more than 18 years without seeing her children, is basically the story of many immigrants. I myself have spent more than 9 years without seeing my children, educating them in the distance via phone and like many others missing the most important dates in the life of our children. As mothers, we suffer psychological damage everyday because we ask that when we eat, theyre also eating, that they don't suffer as much through their sick days and are healthy and safe, and that on mothers day they don't feel alone."
I encourage everyone to send her letters of support, and to support her in other ways if they can (she sells the most beautiful and earrings that she makes herself in order to support her and her family while in sanctuary. For more info about Flor and her struggle, and to get in touch with her, visit her website and blog. Thank you!
La última vez aque estuve en Chicago para presentar Made in LA me presentaron a Flor Crisóstomo, una mujer excepcional que lleva viviendo más de un año en reclusión en la iglesia de Adalberto (United Methodist Church), luchando contra una orden de deportación. Sus historia es muy poderosa, y un ejemplo viviente de resistencia y del poder del movimiento de santuarios. Le di el DVD de Made in L.A. para animarla, y a petición mia me escribió con unos comentarios muy bonitos sobre la película y las similitudes con su vida de lucha. Incluyo aquí un segmento:
"Vi dos veces la película... es muy impresionante y con tantas similitudes con mi vida y pienso que con la de los millones de trabajadores en EEUU. Cuando llegué a California yo también trabajé en una compañía de textil...
[Made in L.A.] muestra la transformación de tres bellas mujeres, que en el transcurso de justicia para su genero y para su dignidad las llevo a conocer lo que no cualquier migrante puede darse el lujo de hacer por temor a represalias.
La historia de Maura, que ha pasado más de 18 años sin ver a sus hijos, es prácticamente la historia de muchos inmigrantes. Como en mi situación que he pasado mas de 9 años sin ver mis hijos, educándolos a distancia a través del teléfono y perdiéndonos las fechas mas importante de la vida de nuestros hijos. Sufrimos deterioro psicológico como madres todos los días porque pedimos que al comer nosotras ellos también estén comiendo, que en sus enfermedades no sufran tanto y no les duela absolutamente nada, y que en ese día de las madres no se sientan solos."
Animo a todo el mundo a que le envíen cartas de apoyo, y a apoyarla en otras formas si pueden (vende aretes y collares preciosos que ella misma fabrica para poder sustentarse a ella y su familia mientras se encuentra encerrada en condición de santuario). Para más información sobre Flor y para ponerse en contacto con ella, visita su página web y blog en www.floresiste.wordpress.com.
Food Inc delves deep into the reasons for the exodus of hundreds of thousands of small farmers from Mexico, who are losing a way of life because of their inability to compete with low-cost imported U.S. corn, often subsidized by the U.S. government and flowing freely as a result of NAFTA. (Read more here) The cycle continues as large meatpacking companies post ads in their destroyed towns assuring good wages in the U.S., even setting up bus lines to help workers come illegally to the U.S., so they work at meatpacking factories. According to the film, this practice was frequently ignored by Immigration authorities. And, despite the well-publicized, high-profile raids in places like Postville, an organizer in the film explains that the major agribusiness companies only experience "occasional small raids": 10 to 15 immigrants being detained everyday in their trailers, in what he describes as possible complicity between the company and the authorities to avoid bigger crackdowns that could slow or stop production.
I thank the producers of Food Inc for being brave enough to connect the dots, and to link the food we all eat with the lives of hundreds of thousands of people whose lives have been turned upside-down (back in Mexico and now in the US) so that we can eat meat everyday.
| Robert and Almudena receive the award|
Alexandra Lescaze, executive director of the Sidney Hillman Foundation, Robert and me,
The goal of the Showcase is to offer a broad, diversified look at life in the United States and the values of a democratic society as seen by American documentary filmmakers. The Showcase is intended to demonstrate the role documentary plays in fostering understanding and cooperation.
|With Chancellor Rosa Perez, wearing her T-shirt with a quote from Made in L.A.|
"It'd be awesome if you could come next time!", she said. And so next time came, and I attended what I though would be a traditional screening of the film, organized in collaboration with the Chancellors Office, multiple departments and the Reel Work Film Festival. When I arrived, people were again wearing T-shirts with quotes extracted from Made in LA ("When people start to organize they stop being victims" or " I armed myself with courage") and students had created the most beautiful poster and panels inspired by Made in LA. to showcase their school papers. Word had gotten out, and I was bombarded by an army of photographers, posing for pictures with President Michael Burke, Chancellor Rosa Perez, and all the teachers who had brought their classes to the screening including History, Ethnic Studies, Labor Studies, ESL, Psychology and Math. (I remember thinking, "this must be one of the best math classes they'll ever have!")
As part of the opening remarks, in front of an auditorium packed with more than 300 people, the Latina Leadership Network, presented me (and Robert, in absentia) a beautiful Certificate of Appreciation, and the Chancellor, wearing a Made in LA T-shirt herself, presented a plaque that reads "for bringing the film Made in LA to San Jose City College and sharing the story of strength, triumph and courage". I was moved, very moved by all of this care, passion and recognition...
Our deep gratitude to all the sponsors, organizers and teachers who made this possible, and to Dee Dee Kost for single-handedly spearheading this event!
|Detail from one of the panels they created -isn't it really beautiful?|
|With some of the teachers, sponsors and organizers of the event|
The room, which was packed with parents, teachers and students of all ages, was full of energy and, when I introduced Maria, everyone rose to their feet and gave her a standing ovation as she approached the stage. On the drive home, Maria confided "I truly felt like a star...!" The Q&A was emotional and powerful, with parents and their children sharing their thoughts about each other and the journey towards accomplishing their dreams. Afterwards, with our hands full of presents and flowers, the Bright Prospect students asked us to sign the very T-shirts they were wearing! Here are some of the comments they just sent me:
"The experience of watching the movie with my parents changed my relationship with them. It got me even closer to them and it helped me appreciate them more for all their efforts and sacrifices." -Ana Soto
"Made in LA was very emotional. Watching the film meant a lot because after watching it, my life changed in certain ways. The film reminded me of the many family members I have that are immigrants. It changed my point of view by helping me decide to be more determined and focused on my education and most of all to work hard and to be the best I can be in this beautiful life that was given to us." -Christopher Elguea
"...It proves that minorities should never be underestimated and that united, we can conquer! I came to appreciate my parents' efforts to a greater extent. It was an enlightening experience." -Elizabeth Zamudio
"Made in LA was an awesome documentary. It was inspiring because it shows the importance of humbleness and hard work in order to achieve a dream." -Juana Rodriguez
Lara Colvin, Program Coordinator for the Community Tutoring Program, shared her thoughts as well: "It was so incredible to see the turnout of people... I felt the unity that formed that night in the room, a deep sense of appreciation for the struggles people go through and recognition of the injustice of the conditions of immigrants and women and the working class... The Q&A and people's comments were really revealing and powerful. Is it always like that? Amazing." Don't miss these other thoughts from a Scripps College student blog.
Since then, the Women's Union and Centro Latino Student Affairs have shown the film again on campus and it continues to reach new audiences. And we've heard that some of the Bright Prospect students and parents are organizing to show it to community members... "It really does create a snowball effect," exclaimed Lara.
This event was sponsored by: Community Tutoring Program, Bright Prospect, Scripps Communities of Resources and Empowerment, Motley Coffeehouse, Scripps Investment Fund, Center for California Cultural and Social Issues at Pitzer, Scripps Department of History, Scripps Department of American Studies, CMC Modern Languages Department, Chicano/Latino Student Affairs Center, Asian American Student Union, Scripps Associated Students.
We just returned from a beautiful screening of Made in L.A. that was held at NCLR, the National Council of La Raza, in Washington, D.C. Sponsored by NCLR, Amnesty International and Sojourners, it was a rare opportunity to link civil rights work, human rights work, and faith-based organizing. And it was as moving as the best Made in L.A. screenings can be, as both the audience and the panel were able to connect on a deep personal level with the experiences of the women in the film.
|Robert and I with NCLR's President and CEO Janet Murguía|
We were honored that NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía introduced the event. As she said, "This truly inspiring film beautifully depicts the courage and dignity with which immigrants face the consequences of our broken immigration system. By delving deeply into the struggles of Latina garment workers in Los Angeles, the filmmakers speak volumes to the powerful human stories behind the immigration debate".
The screening was followed by a panel on immigration reform featuring me; Made in L.A.‘s producer Robert Bahar; Adam Taylor, Senior Political Director at Sojourners; Folabi Olagbaju, Director of Amnesty International's Mid Atlantic Office; and Clarissa Martinez de Castro, Director of Immigration at NCLR.
|Robert, me, Folabi, Adam and Clarissa during the panel|
As Folabi Olagbaju explained, Amnesty International is increasingly looking at immigration issues through its human rights framework, and recently launched a report entitled "Jailed Without Justice" which explores problems that exist throughout the U.S. immigrant detention system. In connecting AI's work to the film screening, Folabi said, "It is critical to raise awareness about the plight and courage of millions of undocumented immigrants in our workforce, many of whom are discriminated against and unable to affirm their basic human rights. The story captured in Made in L.A. makes a poignant and compelling case for more just and humane immigration policies in the US."
Adam Taylor talked about the amazing work that Sojourners and other faith communities are doing towards immigration reform. He also cited scripture and outlined some of the fundamental Christian principles that relate to immigration, including the deep-rooted idea of "welcoming the stranger". In addition to his work at Sojourners, Taylor is an Associate Minister at Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington D.C., and he emphasized, "In order to transform hearts and minds we must highlight the personal and moral consequences of our broken immigration system in America. This film helps remind us of the human face and real stories of our immigrant brothers and sisters and the urgent need to unite organizations, churches and leaders from across the theological and political spectrum to bring about comprehensive immigration reform."
Clarissa Martinez de Castro spoke with passion about NCLR's long history and leadership around issues of Latino civil rights, and about the need for immigration reform. Audience members shed more than a few tears as she explained her personal connection to the issues, bringing the stories from the film off the screen and into the hearts of all those present... And as Folabi pointed out, the issues of immigration reform and immigrants' rights are not issues of race or background. Rather, they are core issues of basic human dignity.
We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all the panelists, to the sponsoring organizations, and to everyone who was involved in making this happen. We want to extend a special thank you to NCLR's Patricia Foxen, whom I had met at a conference in Chicago, and who spearheaded this event with the conviction that it could be something very special. We're grateful to all of the collaborators and humbly feel that it achieved that vision!
Here's an extract from their press release:
Since 1950, the Sidney Hillman Foundation has celebrated the legacy and vision of union pioneer and New Deal architect Sidney Hillman. As founder and president of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, and a founder of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), Hillman is considered one of America's greatest labor leaders. His tireless efforts to bring dignity and respect to working people left a lasting legacy for the American public.
These awards give recognition to journalists and public figures demonstrating a similar sense of social responsibility, investigating and telling the difficult stories that need to be told. In an era when serious journalism is being threatened and newspapers are folding, these writers and photographers seek out stories that change lives. The awards go to practitioners in traditional and new media. Past winners include prominent figures in their field, as well as young journalists or publications that have yet to receive adequate recognition. Murray Kempton was the first recipient in 1950....
This year's distinguished panel of judges consists of Hendrik Hertzberg, senior editor, The New Yorker; Harold Meyerson, editor-at-large, The American Prospect and columnist for the Washington Post; Katrina vanden Heuvel, executive editor, The Nation magazine; Susan Meiselas, Magnum photographer and author; and Rose Marie Arce, senior producer, CNN.
"The Hillman Foundation is dedicated to promoting the role that journalism and the world of ideas play in making a difference in the lives of ordinary people. These awards are proof that journalism, at its best and most professional, can change the world," said Bruce Raynor, president of the foundation.
The award ceremony will be held May 27, 2009, 5:30-8:00 PM, at the Hudson Theatre at the Millennium Broadway Hotel in New York City.
For more info about the Hillman awards and the winners click here.
Just last week, we launched the May Day Community Screening Campaign and we've been thrilled by the response that it's starting to have!
The Campaign has already been featured in numerous newsletters from national organizations, and numerous prominent blogs, and was just profiled on Laura Flander's GritTV! And the Media Consortium just launched a new Immigration Headlines Wigdet featuring Made in L.A.!
And, in addition to working with America's Voice, Interfaith Immigration Coalition and Immigration Policy Center around our Capitol Hill screening, a number of national organizations are working to spread the word and/or organize screenings: American Friends Service Committee, Amnesty International, Breakthrough, Enlace, Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), Interfaith Worker Justice, Latino Public Broadcasting, Media Consortium, National Council of La Raza (NCLR), National Immigrant Solidarity Network, National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Sojourners and Sweatfree Communities, among others.
More and more organizations are joining the campaign each week, so stay tuned at www.MadeInLA.com/MayDay for more exciting updates and new short web videos coming up soon!
Apenas la semana pasada hemos lanzado la Campaña del Primero de mayo de Made in L.A. y estamos encantados con la respuesta que está empezando a tener!
La campaña ya se ha resaltado en numerosos newsletters de organizaciones nacionales y numerosos blogs prominentes, y acaba de destacarse en GritTV de Laura Flanders! Además, el Media Consortium acaba de lanzar su nuevo widget con Noticias sobre Inmigración destacando Made in L.A.
Además de las organizaciones con las que trabajamos en torno a nuestro evento en Capitol Hill (America's Voice, Interfaith Immigration Coalition y Immigration Policy Center), un gran numero de organizaciones nacionales están trabajando para pasar la voz y/u organizar eventos y proyecciones: American Friends Service Committee, Amnesty International, Breakthrough, Enlace, Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), Interfaith Worker Justice, Latino Public Broadcasting, Media Consortium, National Council of La Raza (NCLR), National Immigrant Solidarity Network, National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Sojourners y Sweatfree Communities, entre otros.Más y más organizaciones se unen a la campaña cada semana, así que estate atento/a para estar al día y ver los nuevos vídeos web que lanzaremos pronto!
We're happy and proud to announce the cool new Immigration Headlines widget, created by the Media Consortium, one of our wonderful outreach partners in our May Day Campaign. The Widget features Made in L.A. and will keep you up-to-date with the latest immigration headlines from across the country!
Get the Widget now!