9500 Liberty, the DVD

November 6, 2011

When I was working with filmmakers Annabel Park and Eric Byler on the documentary 9500 Liberty in 2009, America was at an inflection point in its immigration policy. Action at the national level was paralyzed by rigid opposition on the right and distracted timidity on the left. At the same time, mushrooming unemployment and economic uncertainty created a feverish hothouse environment where proponents of harsh laws against undocumented workers were finding traction among state and local legislatures. The film dropped at just the right moment to inform the debate with its depiction of the unintended negative social and economic consequences of such legislation in Virginia, and audiences in 42 cities across the country were responding to its compelling story.

Alas, in a series of consequences-be-damned, politics-above-all decisions, such laws came to pass in a number of states. These draconian policies — even more severe than the one documented in the film — have already been signed into law in Arizona, Alabama, Georgia and elsewhere, stressing communities and bringing the first taste of billions in economic disruption as people vote with their feet to find friendlier places to call home.

It’s in this climate that the DVD of 9500 Liberty is being released on November 29. Unfortunately as relevant and prescient as ever, it continues to tell an important story of lessons previously learned, even as the continuing debate, court challenges and social-economic consequences unfold.

Why I support Occupy Wall Street or: Why I love America

October 26, 2011

Why I support Occupy Wall Street or: Why I love America

I love this country.

My family and I arrived here more than forty years ago. My parents worked hard to support our family and to give us kids a start that was far beyond their own origins. We in turn went to school, did the work, and made our way out into the world. We all found opportunity and prosperity that we could never have had in the land of my birth.

I love that I can make choices, pursue my dreams, and make a living doing something I can feel passionate about.

At the same time, I’ve watched my family and friends struggle. They’re working harder and longer for less pay, their benefits dwindling, even as their corporate employers earn billions and inflate CEO pay skyward. I’ve seen my own young family’s bills for health insurance rise dramatically, even as less is covered — while insurance companies reap record profits. And like everyone else, I’ve watched our savings get mutilated by greed and wrongdoing on Wall Street. Things don’t seem to be heading in the right direction, but the mechanism we’ve built to fix it — democracy — is disintegrating from the inside, corroded by unlimited money from those who benefit from the status quo.

That’s why I support the Occupy movement. I’ve had my chance to live the American Dream.

I want my kids to have that chance, too.