As the United States scrambles to find a solution to illegal immigration, Citizens* examines the conflicts that arise between tradition, economic disparity, and the burgeoning awareness of a global citizenship.
Our televisions and radios clamor that undocumented immigrants are taking up the nation’s resources and at the same time outcry they are inhumanely forced to die in the desert. Director Jacob A. Tapia interviews the very people at the center of this controversy – the undocumented immigrant that we go to school, shop, and work with; the law enforcement on the border entrenched in a battle with violence, drugs, and human trafficking; and the experts who report to our national leaders and work with the undocumented individuals. The film Citizens* dignifies the undocumented immigrant while maintaining the realities of illegal immigration.
As filmmakers who grew up around undocumented immigrants, the media reports seem inaccurately definitive. We sought to find information and personal experiences from people who did not have a political agenda. Citizens* encourages empathy and the exploration of knowledgeable solutions. The film introduces you to people who are, or were, undocumented immigrants and allows them to speak as to why they came to the United States. They provide their insights on immigration – legal or illegal. The audience will also hear from the individuals who work on the border to learn the effect of the current immigration policy and what challenges they encounter as they work to protect the local citizens. Experts who study immigration reveal the relationship the economy has with border policy and possible solutions. The wide range of interviewees provides an unbiased view that will empower the audience to search for solutions that impact the global citizen.
Citizens* is unique in it’s unbiased review of the issues of illegal immigration while maintaining the dignity of the undocumented immigrant.
CAPTAIN EBAN BRATCHER
YUMA COUNTY SHERIFF
During Yuma's "hey-day" of illegal immigration, Captain Bratcher experienced first hand the challenges of keeping peace in a border town. Captain Bratcher speaks about Yuma PRE and POST fence, the effectiveness of the border fencing, and the current situation in Yuma.
LOURNA M. MARQUEZ-CARRASQUILLO
Lourna has been practicing in all areas of immigration law since 2003. She is also a mediator certified by the Bureau of Alternate Dispute Resolutions of Puerto Rico. She is licensed in California and Puerto Rico and is fluent in Spanish and English.
Reyna immigrated as a teenager to the USA in 1965 with a passport. Not speaking a word of english, she began working in a sewing factory for $1.30 an hour. A hard worker, Reyna quickly became a successful business owner and founded the organization Ministerio De La Cruz International in 1988. She organizes missions to Tijuana, Mexico every two months, providing food, furniture, clothing, medical and spiritual help to the needy. Reyna also counsels immigrants and helps them to adjust to the USA.
PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS, UCSD
Professor Hanson specializes in the economics of international trade, international migration, and foreign direct investment. He has published extensively in the top academic journals of the economics discipline, is widely cited for his research by scholars across the social sciences, and is frequently quoted in major media outlets. His current research examines the international migration of skilled labor, border enforcement and illegal immigration, the impact of imports from China on the USA labor market, and the determinants of comparative advantage.
FOUNDER, DESERT ANGELS
Desert Angels (Los Angeles del Desierto) are a non profit, humanitarian, search & rescue group made up of volunteers. They conduct search & rescue operations when there are lost persons in areas of the desert between the U.S and Mexican border. They coordinate their efforts with local & regional authorities, like Border Patrol, Sherriff Department, Department of Forestry, Homeland Security & Mexican Consulate; with the sole purpose of Saving lives or recovering the bodies of those that have perished in the desert regions along the Mexico & U.S. Border.
POLLERO / SMUGGLER
"Lalo" spent years involved in many aspects of an immigrant smuggling operation. He sheds light on the job of a Pollero, immigrant smuggling, and border corruption.
VICE PRESIDENT NBPC
Shawn Moran is a Border Patrol Agent and member of the National Border Patrol Council. Shawn has first hand knowledge of the challenges of working on the border and of dealing with border policy.
As an award-winning reporter, Claudia specialized in immigration and U.S.-Mexican border issues, working for National Geographic, La Opinion, the largest Spanish-language daily newspaper in the United States, and the Mexican States Editors Association. In 2008, she was named Latina Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Hispanic Publications. Her investigative pieces have been cited by national and international organizations.
INTERIM DIRECTOR, TRANS-BORDER INSTITUTE
Charles Pope is very knowledgeable about the challenges facing the border region. The Trans-Border Institute is committed to promoting understanding, dialogue, and collaboration between Mexico and the United States and to addressing urgent transnational issues affecting their people and those of neighboring countries.
MARIELA G. SHIBLEY, PSY.D.
DOCTOR OF PSYCHOLOGYDr. Shibley brings a unique point of view to the illegal immigration conversation as an immigrant and Psychologist. She specializes in working with people around issues of immigration, acculturation, cultural challenges and cross-cultural couples. She also conducts psychological evaluations for immigration purposes and works collaboratively with attorneys throughout San Diego.
WHY WE MADE THE FILM
There is a street corner near our home where day laborers stand day in and day out. One day we started to wonder about the people we saw there. What was their story, where did they come from, why were they looking for work on a street corner? As emerging filmmakers, we decided to explore their story further in the form of a documentary. As we began to research day laborers, we became aware of the issue of illegal immigration. Growing up in Southern California and Wyoming immigration, at least for us, wasn't a political issue – it was just part of daily life.
We quickly learned that there was much more to the illegal immigration story than we were hearing from news reports and politicians. Reports were so biased, on both sides, that it was hard to know who or what to believe. So in 2009 we decided to find out what the truth really was and began production on the feature length documentary Citizens*.
During this 5 year process, we've interviewed a variety of experts and individuals on both sides of the immigration debate. To say that what we've found is enlightening is an understatement.
Citizens* is not an anti-illegal immigration nor a pro-illegal immigration film. Citizens* is produced as a traditional, unbiased, and educational documentary film. We believe this is a story that needs to be told we look forward to sharing it with you.