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DC Screening Brings Together Human Rights, Civil Rights and Faith Leaders at NCLR

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!






 

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