The film Undocumented directed by Professor Marco Williams deeply resonated with me long after I viewed the documentary. This film shines a bright illuminating light on the ongoing national crisis of immigration. According to the Department of Homeland Security, as of 2011, reports have shown that over eleven million undocumented immigrants reside in the United States. To many, this maybe an alarming statistic to digest. However, this occurrence does not surprise me. The underlying motivation behind these migrants to pack of everything they know and leave their home country for the United States is rather simple. They hope to discover a better life for themselves – a life of destiny and promise. Given that America is often attributed to being the “Great Melting Pot”, I believe that everyone should have the just and fair right to equally pursue the American Dream given they pose no imminent threat to national security. To my dismay, most Americans commonly use dehumanizing language in which they characterize immigrants. Whenever debasing terms like “alien”, “job-stealers” or “illegal” are used openly within society, it inherently undermines the essence of what it means to be human. No human should be described as illegal. Rather, all human beings share the universal nature of being rational autonomous beings and that should be given the utmost respect. This documentary strongly hints at these principal ideals and much more. For one, it illustrates the high number of deaths which occur in the desert after migrants have crossed the border. Great sums of American citizens, including myself before watching this film, are fully unaware of this matter. Prof. Williams carefully captures this broad American sentiment as the “Invisible death.” Undoubtedly, the documentary harps on the multitude of unnerving deaths of Mexican migrants and this is no secret. Although these people trekked miles upon miles in anticipation of a better way of life to the U.S., the American dream hopelessly died with them as they succumbed to the unforgiving elements of nature. Thus, the freedom they so much desired was ultimately carried away in a body bag.
With the state of today’s immigration policy, Pres. Barack Obama declared “We are the first nation to be founded for the sake of an idea—the idea that each of us deserves the chance to shape our own destiny. That’s why centuries of pioneers and immigrants have risked everything to come here…The future is ours to win. But to get there, we cannot stand still” (whitehouse.gov). Surely, I agree with Pres. Obama’s view that each human being has a right to happiness in creating who they want to be in the future. Nevertheless, one should not lose sight and allow himself to get caught up in this smoky rhetoric. I want to be clear that I am critical of the United States government when it comes to matters of immigration. I believe they are not doing enough for undocumented immigrants. It is the same politics as usual on Capitol Hill – more talk and little to no action. Politicians are always the first to line up and express what they will do to tackle immigration. But truthfully, all they harp on is policy – to strengthen our borders and protect American citizens from the “illegal trespassers.” It is reiterated countlessly. In reality, as Americans, we tend to strike blame on these undocumented migrants for distorting the natural order of things in America. This is honestly the world we live in and it is time for a “changing riptide” to happen in Washington DC in regard to the enactment of proper and just immigration law. As politicians continue to sit back in their cozy chairs in Congress and turn a blind eye, hundreds upon hundreds of undocumented immigrants will continue to die in their search for hope at the border. With this in mind, I would like to present my solution on how immigration law could be improved in the United States.
Necessarily, an evolution in immigration policy is needed in Washington today. First, these migrants not only come with the thought of American freedoms in mind, but more importantly, they are victims of failed institutions in their homeland. If it rests in the economy, education, healthcare, etc., these institutions are in a catastrophic state which is hopelessly failing to meet the needs of its citizens. I know the issue is much more complex than what I make it out to be, but the United States should form better relations with neighboring Latin-American countries to better ensure that those institutions are improved in so the people would not feel so compelled to jump the United States border. Second, the United States must somehow find a way to lessen the time one has to wait to attain a visa. Some of the undocumented are forced to wait up to twenty years until they can be issued legal status. Fairly, these people cannot wait two decades in order to see their loved ones. Thus, this issue must be resolved. Third, the United States government is not giving its full financial backing to more public institutions that seek to rescue and save the undocumented. Though private organizations are in place to assist, it would be instrumental to have more government supported programs similar to the Coalition of Human Rights.
This documentary has made me much more aware of this foreboding crisis in the United States we call immigration. Truly, the amount of unnecessary death happening at our borders must come to an end. America needs to wake up and realize this. In light of the film, one central question comes to mind: At what point is the United States morally responsible for the number of migrant deaths? Answering this question would require further discussion and would suffice for another paper topic. But for now, immigration law needs to be changed as such that freedom is not carried away as an empty vessel in a body bag.