politics

Short Film ‘So Close To America’ Lays Bare The Facts Of Being An Undocumented Farm Worker

Peter Carrs / So Close to America / Facebook

Immigrants in the United States have a long history of being the scapegoat during times of uncertainty. Every generation has a group of people that were demonized and dehumanized in a false attempt to better the lives of “Americans.” Currently, immigrants from Latin America are being used as the scapegoat by President Donald Trump as he pushes for his border wall to stop what he claims is a crisis at the border. Despite Trump’s claims, illegal border crossings are at record lows and crime levels in border cities are lower than the national average. Filmmaker Peter Carrs is using his own film “So Close to America” to dispel the hurtful and blatantly false claims of immigration leading to crime.

Peter Carrs’s “So Close to America” is a film demolishing the notion of undocumented immigrants getting a free ride in the U.S.

The film’s full title is “So Close to Ameria: Undocumented Farm Workers & The Myth of ‘The Free Ride'” is an intimate look at the daily lives of immigrant farm workers. The subjects of the documentary are the center of one of the great political debates of the 21st century with both parties fighting on opposite sides of the debate.

In the film, Carrs breaks down the facts about immigration and the impact immigrants have had on the agriculture industry. Carrs’s documentary shows that most of the farm workers are immigrants and anywhere between 50 to 80 percent of them are undocumented.

One fact Carrs tackles is the notion that undocumented immigrants are draining the welfare system.

Credit: SoberalskiLaw / Twitter

According to Vox, about half of all undocumented workers in the U.S. file federal taxes annually. In 2015, undocumented workers made up $23.6 billion paid to the federal government in taxes. Not to mention the taxes spent buying a home, buying gas, buying groceries, etc.

At the same time, undocumented immigrants cannot benefit from any of the social programs their tax dollars pay for. Why? Federal laws prohibit undocumented immigrants from accessing federal welfare programs. However, some of the children of immigrants do have access to some programs, such as healthcare, WIC, and other programs because they are U.S. citizens.

Even for legal immigrants, there is a five-year ban on accessing any kind of government assistance. Trump has tried to “propose” this to the U.S. but the law has been in place since 1996 when Bill Clinton signed the bill. Essentially, anyone claiming that undocumented immigrants are overloading the welfare system is not telling the full and true story.

The basic message of the film is that undocumented farm workers keep our food affordable, boost our economy, and contribute to the U.S. by paying taxes.

“Whether we want to admit it or not, our agricultural system is almost entirely dependent on migrant labor, but specifically undocumented migrant labor,” historian Cody Ferguson says in “So Close to America.” “Undocumented workers, they’re doing some of the hardest work that you can do in the United States. And, as a result of their hard work, we have this incredible, diverse system of agriculture that can provide practically anything we want to eat, whenever we want to eat it, for some of the cheapest prices in the world.”

According to the Department of Agriculture, around 50 percent of the work force making up the farmworkers in the U.S. are undocumented. According to a report in CBS News, certain aspects of the farm economy are more vulnerable to the uncertainty of our immigration policies.

CBS News reports that there is currently no visa program for year-round dairy farm workers, which relies heavily on undocumented and migrant labor. Furthermore, a study commissioned by the dairy industry found that if federal immigration policies removed 50 percent of the dairy farm laborers from the workforce, 3,500 dairy farms will be forced to close.

President Trump’s sustained and amplified attack on immigration, both illegal and legal, could have damaging repercussions for the U.S. economy. The immigration system is complex and difficult to maneuver and is in desperate need of an overhaul. Comprehensive immigration reform is something people support. Several prominent political and cultural leaders have spoken out about the need for comprehensive immigration reform and it’s time we start taking those steps.

READ: Miami Film Festival Cancels Screening of Immigration Doc After ICE Detained The Movie’s Main Character

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Gay Man Attacked In Downtown Phoenix By A 'Mob Of 10 People'

politics

Gay Man Attacked In Downtown Phoenix By A ‘Mob Of 10 People’

Cesar Marin / Facebook

Cesar Marin was driving in downtown Phoenix when he was attacked by a group of people in what he has called a hate crime. Marin has been recovering since the attack but took to Facebook to share his ordeal with family, friends, and, inadvertently, other victims of hate crimes based on their sexual orientation. Here’s what we know so far about he brutal attack that left Marin in the hospital.

Cesar Marin is a Phoenix man recovering in a hospital after a vicious anti-gay attack.

Credit: @LindseyReiser / Twitter

“I was just gay bashed in downtown Phoenix. I was attacked by a mob of 10 people. It all started with 1 girl flicking her cigarette in my car and calling me a f****t,” Marin started his Facebook post. “Before I knew it, I was surrounded in a hail of punches. One guy kicked me in the face when I fell down. The police are investigating and they have the cigarette the girl flicked into my car and a silver earing. I have a broken nose and a swollen face and bruised body. I’m home resting. Thanks for all your love!”

According to the latest FBI statistics reported, hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community have been on the increase since President Donald Trump was elected. The Human Rights Campaign reported that hate crimes increased by 17 percent in 2017, just one year into Trump’s presidency.

Anti-gay hate crimes have been a commonly discussed topic since Jussie Smollett made headlines claiming he was viciously attacked in Chicago. Smollett, who is in court facing 16 felony counts related to the incident, alleged that two men in “Make America Great Again” hats attacked him for being Black and gay.

“At the beginning of this ordeal, I felt like the world was full of evil.”

Credit: @kbal3259 / Twitter

Marin explains in his Facebook post that the attack was unprovoked. According to the post, Marin claims that a woman was jaywalking and stepped out in front of his car. Marin hit the brakes and at that time the woman walked to his passenger side and called him a “f****t” and flicked her lit cigarette at him.

“I freaked out and said something like why did you do that, what’s wrong with you. I did a u turn cause of how close to the intersection I was. I pulled over fast,” Marin explains in his post. “I didn’t want my car to catch fire as I saw red hot embers when she hit me with it. I got out of my car to get to the passenger side to look for the cigarette when the attack started so I was NOT pulled out.”

His story is resonating across the LGBTQ+ community since attacks like these are real and terrifying.

Credit: @ernieortiz / Twitter

Marin says that he is out and not shy about his sexuality and that it would be clear to the attackers that he is a gay man. He mentions that the song playing in his car could have been “flamboyant,” but the equality and rainbow stickers on his bumper would have given it away regardless.

“How did they know I was gay? Well, I drive a Miata convertible which had the top down. I listen to flamboyantly gay music. I love Madonna, Cher, The Weather Girls, “It’s Raining men” MY favorite song in the whole world,” Marin shares in his post. “Frankly I don’t remember the song. but my playlist consists of stuff like that. I do sing out loud when I drive and if that wasn’t enough, when she saw the back of my car, the equality sticker and gay rainbow sticker was a dead giveaway.”

Arizona police are currently investigating the attack and Marin admits he lost consciousness during the attack, but a Good Samaritan helped him.

Credit: @albertohonor41 / Twitter

“I only remember when the attack started as I passed out and came to on the floor when a good Samaritan was shaking my shoulders asking if I was okay. I was spitting up a ton of blood and he put a bag of ice on my face. I heard him yelling at the people that attacked me,” Marin says in his post. “I blacked out a bit and remember being surrounded by paramedics and heard the voice of the good Samaritan telling the cops that he pulled people off of me and saw when they were stomping my face with their feet. He gave a description to the police.”

Marin says the police were able to collect the cigarette butt that was thrown by the woman involved in the attack. Marin also states that a video of the aftermath of the attack has been released all in an attempt to help the police find those responsible for the attack.

READ: Here’s How A Group Of Activists Secretly Broke The Homophobic Law Banning Gay Propaganda In Russia