Category Archives: immigration

Sundance Interview: Cherien Dabis, Director of Amreeka

by Guest Contributor Melissa Silverstein, orginally published at Women and Hollywood

Cherien Dabis is having one of those dreamlike weeks. She was named one of Variety’s 10 Directors to Watch in 2009, and her film Amreeka had its world premiere at Sundance this past weekend to a standing ovation and positive reviews. Now all she needs to do it sell the film and get an agent.

Not being in Sundance, I haven’t seen the film but if I were there, it would been tops on my list. Here’s the description from the catalog:

Director Cherien Dabis’s auspicious debut feature, Amreeka, is a warm and lighthearted film about one Palestinian family’s tumultuous journey into Diaspora amidst the cultural fallout of America’s war in Iraq. Muna Farah, a Palestinian single mom, struggles to maintain her optimistic spirit in the daily grind of intimidating West Bank checkpoints, the constant nagging of a controlling mother, and the haunting shadows of a failed marriage. Everything changes one day when she receives a letter informing her that her family has been granted a U.S. green card. Reluctant to leave her homeland, but realizing it may be the only way to secure a future for Fadi, her teenage son, Muna decides to quit her job at the bank and visit her relatives in Illinois to see about a new life in a land that gives newcomers a run for their money.Dabis weaves an abundance of humor and levity into this tale of struggle, displacement, and nostalgia and draws an absorbing and irresistibly charming performance from actress Nisreen Faour as Muna, who stands at the heart of this tale. Amreeka glows with the truth and magic of everyday life and signals the arrival of an exciting, new directorial talent.

She took a couple of minutes to discuss the film and her Sundance experience.

Women & Hollywood: What made you want to make this film?

Cherien Dabis: The story is quite personal, inspired by my family and loosely based on true events. I grew up in a small town in Ohio of about 10,000 people. I actually grew up between Ohio and Jordan but most of my time was spent in this small town where as Arab Americans we were isolated because there was no Arab community and not a whole lot of diversity. For a while everything was fine and we fit in relatively well until the first Gulf War when my family was scapegoated and overnight we virtually became the enemy. All kinds of absurd things happened. My father who is a physician lost a lot of his patients because they wouldn’t support an Arab doctor and then it came to a head when the Secret Service came to my high school to investigate a rumor that my 17 year old sister threatened to kill the president.

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Law of the Land: ABC’s Homeland Security Reality Show Isn’t Very Real

by Special Correspondent Fatemeh Fakhraie

Arnold Shapiro, the executive producer of ABC’s Homeland Security USA, states in a Washington Post article that, “It [the show] doesn’t have a political point of view.” The show aims to depict the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security as they do their jobs at the airport, the border, and/or the post office.

I didn’t believe Mr. Shapiro when I read the article, and I don’t believe him after watching the show. Terms like “terrorist” and “illegal” (in reference to immigrants) were tossed around all over the place: these terms are laden with racist and political overtones, especially in the border and airport security contexts of the program.

My confirmation that the show had a political bent was when a group of young men and one woman were stopped at the U.S.-Canada border. The border patrol stated that the driver was a Canadian citizen, but that his parents were Iranian citizens. It was stated as if it were proof of his alleged guilt: the officer mentioned his parents’ citizenships along with his possession of a fake ID and his untruthful answers to officers’ questions about his travel itinerary. Last time I checked, citizenship (one’s own or that of one’s family/acquaintances) wasn’t evidence of wrongdoing. But this show (and its politics) makes it automatic evidence of guilt and in doing so promotes xenophobia.

The other pieces of evidence? All passengers were brown. Now, they didn’t come out and say it, but I knows racial profiling when I sees it. In fact, every suspect featured in this television show was brown: Latino, Middle Eastern, South Asian… Even the innocent people. Mr. Shapiro must be unaware of the politics (and maaaaaajor racism) behind racial profiling.

I don’t have an issue with aiming to promote and appreciate the work that the men and women of the DHS have to do. I appreciate and understand that what they do to protect this country is difficult, dangerous, and sometimes horrific.

I have an issue with the fact that the other side isn’t presented or addressed: the fact that some officers commit human and civil rights violations when dealing with both citizens and non-citizens (immigrants, tourists, etc.); the trauma that innocent (and even the non-innocent) face during such violations; and the fact that racial profiling and xenophobia are terrible and unfair realities (if not policy) in DHS operations.

Last week’s “Flying While Muslim” (and brown) incident is proof that our security systems aren’t 100% efficient. No system is. But to attempt to lionize the DHS–through highlighting all the hard and thankless work that the men and women “on the ground” do–is misleading. And not-so-sneakily political.

(Photo Credit: ABC)

Poverty and the One-Third World

by Guest Contributor Tagland, originally published at Tanglad

I am an immigrant woman of the Two-Thirds World, who is living with the One-Third World.

I first came across Esteva and Prakash’s concept of the One Third/Two Thirds World via Chandra Mohanty’s Feminism Without Borders. The concepts recognize the transnational nature of capital, and how policies instituted by people in the One-Third World (middle and upper classes in the North and elites in the South) destabilize the lives of those in the Two-Thirds World, comprised by majority of the world’s population.

And most of the time, those of us in the One-Third World remain unaware of how our actions, well-meaning or otherwise, generate and perpetuate poverty and hardship.

For example, many of us in the One-Third World rarely reflect on our patterns of consumption, on how overconsumption contributes to substandard working conditions in Export Processing Zones around the world. If you’ve ever bought clothes from Nike, the Gap, or purchased products from Walmart and Target, for example, please take a minute to consider why your purchases seem so “affordable.” Ditto with that $2 bottle of wine from Trader Joe’s.

If you want to help those in poverty, take some more time to consider the consequences of top-down assistance programs that are instituted without any input or consultation from the communities themselves. This includes turning a critical eye on programs that present capacity-building and microcredit as solutions to poverty, rather than stopgap measures to systemic problems that are exacerbated by globalization. This means actually listening to the people in communities when they say that they need healthcare and education programs instead of yet another start-up handicraft business. Continue reading

Pelosi Suggests Permanent U.S. Slave Class

by Guest Contributor Nezua, originally published at The Unapologetic Mexican

AS SADDENED AND CYNICAL as I have become about humankind in my life, I still nurture a belief in the human heart and the sense of Right. I still feel that in most cases of wrong being done, all it takes is thinking, feeling people getting the real facts of a situation. And the facts of this situation are shocking and revolting to a thinking mind and feeling heart.

Buried in the final paragraphs of this article*, the Democratic Speaker of the House offers the LA Times a shocking idea: That millions of immigrants now in the USA—who are currently a deeply-enmeshed part of our commerce and communities—might be relegated to a permanent status of neither citizenship or deportee. What is left after you strike those two possibilities? As Duke said, an indentured class.

The estimated 12 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally “are part of the U.S. economy. We cannot send them all home, and we cannot send them all to jail, so we have to address it,” Pelosi said.

Any solution would have to be bipartisan, she said, so it may require sacrificing some of Democrats’ past priorities, such as giving illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.

“Maybe there never is a path to citizenship if you came here illegally,” Pelosi said. “I would hope that there could be, but maybe there isn’t.”

Pelosi says Congress unlikely to approve tax rebate before President Bush leaves office

DREAMactivist points out right away that many New Americans (migrants/immigrants) were in fact brought here. So what does Pelosi’s quote mean in that context? If the immigrant in question didn’t “Come here illegally,” but is a child who was brought here illegally? Does Nancy Pelosi believe that the child should then be relegated to detention? An indentured status? Permanent US Guest Worker in the Land of the Free? Continue reading

On Opposite Sides of the Immigration Debate

by Latoya Peterson

My friend Hae and I have been good friends for about four years. As an aesthete, Hae’s life tends to revolve around art and pop culture, both here and in Asia.* She is not a politically motivated person, so until we were sitting in traffic one day, I had no idea where her political beliefs fell.

The car in front of us had a bumper sticker that annoyed me, something that managed to convey support of erecting a border fence and insult Latinos in two short lines.

I sucked my teeth. When Hae asked why, I pointed out the sticker, and expressed how pissed I was at the sentiment. After all, in my opinion, the border fence is just an expensive (and ultimately ineffective) expression of ignorance. A porous border is not just a matter of physical obstacles. And tossing up a band-aid solution instead of identifying the other issues at play with immigration just seems like a waste of time. Not to mention the thinly veiled racism that often swirls around concerns about “illegals” invading the country.

“So, what, you support people coming over here illegally?” Hae asked me incredulously. She then launched into a mini-tirade about the overall unfairness of a system that would allow people to cross the border and in essence “skip the line” to immigrate to America. Since I can count on one hand the times I’ve seen Hae worked up about something, I was a bit taken aback by her strong feelings on the matter.

However, after further examination, I realized where we had experienced a bit of political disconnect.

We can chalk that up to different life experiences. Continue reading

Who is Afraid of Sanctuary Cities?

by Latoya Peterson

Reader Kheng sent in this video, currently being aired in California. Kheng writes:

I am watching TV and I come across this commercial. It made me sick to my stomach. I don’t know if you want to feature it on the blog, but I found it quite offensive and I am surprised it even aired.

After checking out the video, I can see what she means:

Text:


Californians are a compassionate people.

Our sanctuary cities defy state laws, so we can protect illegal aliens – even though they are named in 95% of outstanding homicide warrants in L.A.

Even though they are wanted in up to two-thirds of fugitive felony arrest warrants. Illegal alien gang members get back on the street because our cops can’t ask immigration status.

Have sanctuary cities taken our compassion too far?

Share your opinion at Capsweb.org.

Paid for by Californians for Population Stabilization.

I know y’all loved the standard issue Latino gang member (complete with red bandanna and mustache) and promises of property crime. They even made sure to show they were not being racist – they used a picture of a black cop! (But, on second glance, that cop looks kind of blatino…maybe the LAPD is on the side of the illegals!)

Okay, all joking aside, I’ve been seeing this “illegals are murders” meme popping up a few different places now. So let’s focus on the statistics that are cited in the video. Are the numbers cited true? Continue reading

PeTA and Oppression on the Border

by Guest Contributor Marisol LeBron, originally published at Post Pomo Nuyorican Homo

People who know me know that few things on this planet irk to the extent that PETA does. The tactics that PETA deploy to get their point across are dubious at best and some are downright deplorable. I wrote off PETA after a campaign they ran called “Animal Liberation” where they juxtaposed images of animals in captivity and images of the racial terror that people of African decent in this country faced including chattel slavery and lynching.

A few years prior they ran a series of ads that they had to publicly apologize for that juxtaposed farm animals and Holocaust victims. People of color and Jews have fought to be recognized as humans with dignity after centuries of being compared to animals and PETA has repeatedly disregarded those efforts. PETA has continuously trivialized the effects of racism on people of color and Jews by comparing it to the experience of farm animals.

Instead of talking about the ways that the food processing industry exploits and dehumanizes the people of color and im/migrants who work in plants, PETA chose instead to go the media publicity route and ask the US Border Patrol if they can advertise on the Wall.

WTF!?

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