Undocumented immigrants live in America in fear that they or their family may be deported. In the years since the DREAM Act was brought into consideration, little has been done to change this for a number of reasons. In their documentary Immigration Battle film, Shari Robertson and Michael Camerini show the human factor and the guilt of both the Democrats and the Republicans regarding this failure to end the deportations.
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The DREAM Act, the most debated issue in American immigration policy, was introduced in 2001. The Act aimed at protecting young illegal immigrants from deportation and the occurrence of broken families have never been passed. The 2010 version had the following requirements for the immigrant youth: to live there without going abroad for five years and to be no younger than 12 and no older than 30 when the bill comes into force. A university diploma and no criminal record requirements were also included.
In their new documentary, Robertson and Camerini depict this debate in Washington, focusing on different aspects of the American immigration policy, such as the DREAM Act and the DREAMer movement. It becomes clear that the DREAM Act works well for immigrant students and other qualified young people, but not families as a whole. As Mahatmya and Gring-Pemble state, per the DREAM Act, “children are foremost a national resource, rather than a family resource; children may be better off separated from their families” (82). Having lived in the US for years, these people feel they do belong and contribute to society in the same way the documented citizens do (Weber-Shirk 583). The given film shows that the activists mention that their American life and families are grounds for recognizing them as citizens.
The DREAMer movement gains public attention due to the scale and volume of the protest actions, and the decisiveness of some people. Moreover, the deportation stories showcase the immigrants as real people who suffer from the current policies. The sympathetic public reacts to the stories of children being separated from their parents, while those opposed to reform use stories on unauthorized mass border crossings as a tool of protest. The presentation of people rising from their chairs to show that they lost their loved ones because of the deportation makes an especially powerful impression on the viewers.
The scale of Washington rally the day after Obama was re-elected indicates how serious the protesters are in their tactics to impact the Congress chanting that “the time is now”. In seven weeks, the Senate passes “historic bipartisan legislation (that shows) a clear path to citizenship for almost all of the 11 million of the undocumented” (Robertson and Camerini). The immigrant activists are lobbying the issue and pressuring the Democrats, among other demands, asking to “reject any compromise that would tighten border security” (Shear and Alcindor).
Among the tactics of civil disobedience by the DREAMers, there are the unbroken spirit and unity of immigrants as well as the reflection of their culture through music. The immigrants keep the pressure on the Republicans, emphasizing the needs of their communities in the process of the peaceful demonstration. The speech by one of the immigrants, Lorella Praeli, as well as her dialogue with the demonstration members are also powerful tactics. Using such words as “unafraid,” “freedom,” and “stand up, fight back,” they clarify their claims and the desired outcomes.
As the historic Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has been enforced, the activists put their faith in President Obama’s promises to reform the existing order, who claimed that a traditional policy change strategy would work with the position the Democrats held in power and the legislations lined up to be passed. The success of the strategy depended on bipartisan efforts and the cooperation of the Republicans.
In this way, a lack of consideration of different political outcomes proves to be a drawback of the chosen strategy. Another disadvantage lies in the failure to understand that, with a bipartisan push needed, the Democrats and the Republicans can hardly agree as they have vastly different voter communities with diverse attitudes to the given problem. Only the first ones support immigration, while the second ones are firmly opposed to it. The documentary shows one more drawback of the selected tactics that is associated with the fact that the bill passage’s dependency on the wishes of those in power is not self-enforced.
The Act failed because the Democrats were unwilling to agree to anything other than their terms likewise they still do while President Trump plans to rescind the (DACA) (Bennett and Mascaro). The Republicans, on the other hand, aim to expel all the illegal foreigners and make the borders impenetrable (Parker). The Democrats in the House cannot agree among themselves as the Republicans delayed their action to preserve their election chances that is also led to this failure.
To conclude, Immigration Battle documentary makes an emotional appeal on behalf of the immigrants. It focuses on real people, both politicians at work such as Spanish-speaking Gutierrez and immigrants struggling to keep together their families in the US. Therefore, this documentary can be seen as a human interest story.
Bennett, Brian, and Lisa Mascaro. “As ‘Dreamers’ Program is Phased out Under Trump, Congress is Split on Protecting Them.” Los Angeles Times. 2017, Web.
Mahatmya, Duhita, and Lisa Gring-Pemble. “DREAMers and Their Families: A Family Impact Analysis of the Dream Act and Implications for Family Well-being.” Journal of Family Studies, vol. 20, no.1, 2014, pp. 79-87.
Parker, Christopher. “The (Real) Reason Why the House Won’t Pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform.” The Brookings Institution, 2014, Web.
Robertson, Shari and Camerini, Michael, directors. Immigration Battle. PBS Frontline, 2015.
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Shear, Michael D., and Yamiche Alcindor. “On ‘Dreamers’ Deal, Democrats Face a Surprising Foe: The Dreamers.” The New York Times. 2017, Web.
Weber-Shirk, Joaquina. “Deviant Citizenship: DREAMer Activism in the United States and Transnational Belonging.” Social Sciences, vol. 4, no. 3, 2015, pp. 582-597.