LatinaLista — For filmmaker Chris Burgard, the issue of undocumented immigrants didn’t hit home until he worked alongside a group of them one summer and heard firsthand their terrifying stories of crossing illegally into the United States.
The issue didn’t hit home with him that this was a real problem that should have the attention of all citizens until he saw his first “rape tree” along the border. A tree whose branches are adorned with the panties of immigrant women who had been raped by the very coyotes who had been paid to bring them over.
Not being able to keep silent about everything he learned, Burgard created a film called The Border. It doesn’t take either side of the border issue but tries to honestly look at both sides of the issue and what are the best solutions. The film went on to win several film festival awards but for Burgard that’s not enough.
He wants immigration policy to change and so he’s created a web site offering his movie on DVD for sale ($24.95), along with, a whole action page for people to tap into different ways that they can make a difference with this important issue.
As Burgard states in one of his goals for the film: “Chris’s personal wish is that people don’t need to think like him. They just need to think.”
In a Q&A from The Border website:
QUESTION: Why is your film important for understanding the true stakes on the border?
It is the human factor that makes these stakes so high. These are people that are being affected…not some abstract policy. If the American people knew how out of control our borders are, if they knew the horrible things that are happening down there everyday, I don’t believe that they would stand for it. To see how bad it is on the border is to know that for twenty years our elected officials have not been doing their jobs.
This documentary is unlike any other. It gives the audience a front row seat to the border and all the players.
I believe that if America became aware of the atrocities on our Southern border, we would be in for an electoral revolution in this country, the likes of which have never been seen before
QUESTION: This issue pits “open border” advocates against “secure the border” advocates. What side does your documentary take?
We don’t take a side. If we did, we would have had much wider distribution. I had been asked by a very successful Hollywood film representative to re edit the film to make it either more liberal or more conservative so that it would be an easier sell. I refused. It is what it is. You see what we saw.
We end the film with the words: Pay Attention. Participate. I don’t need people to think like me. I just want them to think. We have not had an informed national debate on this issue in this country, because up to now the American people have been kept ignorant of the facts of the situation by very powerful special interests. I have great faith in the decency and wisdom of the American people and what they can accomplish when provided with the truth.
Personally I don’t believe that there is the kind of divide among people as the media would portray. I think that on this issue the spin has been brilliantly maneuvered to keep the American people from seeing the man behind the curtain. Most people don’t want to see American ranchers losing their homes or Mexican women being raped and abused on an institutional level. The schism that the government and main stream media have put forth seems to disappear across the board when decent people are confronted with the facts and reality of the current situation. I have traveled across the country and played this film to thousands of people. It has been my experience that with so many atrocities happening on the border that it affords numerous opportunities for Americans to stand together as decent caring human beings and say “No Mas!”
QUESTION: What are some of your solutions for this polarizing issue?
These are my personal thoughts…again, I don’t need everyone to think like me….just think:
1) Bring law and order to the border. Save the ranchers. Stop the rapes and abuse.
2) Adapt a program similar to Reverend Hoover’s where honest people looking for work come through the door legally. We know who they are. We know they don’t have TB. Instead of paying $2,000 to a coyote they put that money up as a bond at the border. Part of their pay check goes back to that bond, so that when their visa time is up they pick up that money and go home when they are supposed to. If they don’t, that money is forfeited to law enforcement and we will have visa compliance, something that is totally lacking in our current immigration system.
3) While the country struggles to address the tens of millions of people that are already here, I say we start billing Mexico for their own citizens. Americans are decent people. They aren’t going to take someone off of life support or deny a kid an opportunity to read…but why should they be taxed to pay for foreign nationals? Mexico is one of our top suppliers of natural gas and oil. We may not all agree on what to do with people already in our country, but while we debate and figure it out, we all need to put gasoline in our vehicles. Mexico can help with that. How about for every day that a Mexican national sits in an American prison, that would be a barrel of oil? For every day that we educate a Mexican citizen, that would be a barrel of oil. For every day that a person from Mexico is receiving health care in one of our hospitals, that would be two barrels of oil.
This may sound exotic at first, but it is merely a simple, proven, business practice applied with common sense and human decency.
Again…just my two cents. Watch the movie. Tell me what you think we should do…….or more importantly tell your elected officials.