I recently caught the movie “Frontera” at the Petit Theater here in San Miguel de Allende. It’s a drama (set along the Arizona-Mexico border) that grapples with undocumented immigration and the complex issues surrounding it. I hope it finds a large audience in the U.S.A. because, unlike most of the media’s handling of the subject there, the film does so in a way that is humanizing instead of polarizing.
Of course there is an Immigration System in place with laws that need to be followed. I don’t think anyone disputes that. Those laws and that system badly need an overhaul and update, but posturing, politics, money and vitriol continue to stand in the way of Congressional action. In the mean time there is a perspective that must be easier to see from here — in the Central Mountains of Mexico — than from north of the border. That is, the visceral reaction to the issue has more to do with misplaced fears (based on ignorance, paranoia, and bigotry) than with concerns about safety, economy, or security.
There is a small percentage of “bad actors” in any corner of the globe; but for the most part anyone risking an illegal border crossing is looking for opportunity and a better life. Yet a certain faction of the U.S population is so angry/fearful about this action that they are driven to exact (or threaten) deadly violence. What are they so angry about that they will, as civilians, take it upon themselves to don camoflague, brandish military weapons, put finger to trigger, and set their scopes on complete strangers all in the name of “patriotism”?
Is it to save the States from disease? Some media have hyped the idea that the thousands (mostly women and children) that rode trains and walked north in recent months could carry sickness and be infectious. The recent arrival of an Ebola victim in the US has created a fevered pitch and brought some calls for shutting borders entirely. That disease came to Dallas, Texas from an area in Africa where its outbreak has been fueled by ignorance of basic sanitation and a lack of a health care infrastructure. Still, in the Lone Star State children are much less likely than their Mexican counterparts to have their vaccinations up to date or have seen a doctor when they need to. That’s because Mexico guarantees affordable health care to all of its citizens. Yet Governor Rick Perry has refused to accept Medicaid Expansion under the Affordable Care Act at no cost to Texas or it’s people. That means many of the more than 6,000,000 Texas citizens without health care could be insured with the stroke of a pen…..but they aren’t.
Is it economic patriotism? Would any of the these watchmen lining up shoulder to shoulder accept the labor that might be available to those that get across? Would they do that work? Would they want that work?
Is it safety and security? Despite the false portrayal of every street corner in Mexico being a drug-cartel shooting gallery ,my wife and I have always felt safe in our travels and in the places we have stayed in Mexico. But north of the border military style weapons are too often brandished by too many with too little training and too little regard for the potential consequences. Why are informal militias forming and setting up shop on the border? Are they really serving a noble purpose or are they exorcising their xenophobia and false machismo all at the same time on the same target?
Yes….it’s a movie…..but go see Frontera……and tell me what you think.