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Documentary Film “The Immigration Battle” Essay (Movie Review)

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Updated: Oct 12th, 2020


The immigration policy of the United States has been an issue for almost every modern president. Both Democrat and Republican Party members have admitted that it is a problem that not only deserves attention but needs to be addressed as soon as possible. However, for decades, there has been no progress. Often, the two parties are unable to agree with each other on how the issue should be addressed. Political alliances are made and broken due to various events, and the people who these changes are supposed to affect are running out of time. “Immigration Battle” is a documentary film by Shari Robertson and Michael Camerini on one such push for a change in immigration policy. It chronicles the efforts of Congressman Luis Gutierrez to bring change to the immigration policy (“Congressman Luis Gutierrez”). This review will outline the dreamer movement that Gutierrez struggled to protect, their tactics, and possible reasons behind their failure.

The Dreamer Movement

The dreamer movement started in the mid-2000s as an alliance of activists and organizers who wanted to promote equal access to education for young immigrants. The name of the movement comes from the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act that was designed to provide a path to citizenship for children who were brought to the United States (Graham; “The Dream Act, DACA, and Other”). The group has been promoting the act for almost 12 years, and each time it has failed to gather enough congressional votes to pass. However, each time the movement grew and attracted new attention from the public due to their activism and humanitarian goals. In recent years, the issue of deportation separating families has come to the forefront of the movement, which can be seen in the movie. When confronted with the idea that your loved ones and friends can be taken away at any moment, the public begins to empathize with the activists, and perhaps this led to the increased attention to the group (“United We Dream”).


One of the tactics described in the movie is the use of political pressure. When the movement started to directly confront politicians and President Obama, they began to see efforts to change the immigration policy of the country. The Latin-American community holds significant voting power in the country, and when the resolution of the issue could change their vote, a lot of people who previously did not consider helping the immigration reform, become much more interested. Their message of keeping families together and providing educational opportunities for children has also resonated positively with the values of both parties (Robertson and Camerini).

The Shortcomings

The movement always aimed at a traditional policy-change through the creation of a bipartisan bill. The majority vote from members of both parties would be needed to let the bill pass. In theory, by having both parties agree on the bill, it should prevent future conflict on the issue from either of them. Unfortunately, this approach has several drawbacks which can be seen in the movie. While both parties at different points in time considered the issue to need attention, the differences in opinion, restrictions, allowances, and budgetary concerns have prevented the passing of the bill on previous occasions. The situation presented in the movie is especially complex as Luis Gutierrez had to contend with the fact that the Republican Party, which was the majority in Congress at the time, was completely against any policy changes presented by the President.

While the party did not rely on the votes of the Latino-American community, Gutierrez managed to create some allies in the Republican camp and was very close to passing an immigration bill presented by the Republicans when two major unforeseen events have prevented any motion to take place on the bill. The candidate he courted on this issue lost the primaries to a person whose platform took a very strict stance on immigration. Also, a massive influx of immigrant children has caused Republican voters to oppose any bills that supported illegal immigrants. These two changes put a stop to the efforts of Luis Gutierrez to create alliances and forced him to consider Presidential action as a possible solution to the issue. At the end of the movie, the president announces his immigration plan, but the situation is left unresolved because of the heavy opposition to it from the conservative voters (Robertson and Camerini).

Dreamers Today

The 2016 elections changed the perspective on immigration from both parties. With Trump taking a hardline stance against immigration, the activists have to fight much harder, and despite some progress in the matter, the actions that the Trump administration took against immigrants are severe. The DACA program that allowed people to temporarily avoid deportation was canceled, border control is set to become much harsher, and it is highly unlikely that any positive change to the immigration policy would happen during this administration (Preston).


The immigration policy of the United States is very flawed and requires change. It affects millions of people, but despite all actions, only small portions of the issue are addressed. In recent years it has become a partisan issue, which makes it very hard to gain agreement from both sides on it.

Works Cited

“Congressman Luis Gutierrez.” Congressman Luis Gutierrez, Web.

Graham, Lindsey. Congress, 2017, Web.

Preston, Julia. POLITICO Magazine, 2017, Web.

Robertson, Shari, and Michael Camerini. “Immigration Battle.” FRONTLINE, 2015, Web.

American Immigration Council. 2016, Web.

“United We Dream.” United We Dream, 2017, Web.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Documentary Film "The Immigration Battle"." October 12, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/documentary-film-the-immigration-battle/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Documentary Film "The Immigration Battle"'. 12 October.

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