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Filmmaker seeks student support on immigration reform

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Davis Guggenheim is challenging college students to join a new campaign and support immigration reform allowing an earned pathway to citizenship based on the DREAM Act.

Several Boston University students said they support the DREAM Act’s proposed changes to immigration policy, which would allow undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. at a young age to earn citizenship by attending college or enrolling in the military.

“I simply don’t understand why anyone would be opposed to the passage,” said Stephanie Pimental, a second-year School of Law student and president of BU’s Immigrant Law and Policy Society. “These [undocumented] kids often do not even know they don’t hold status until they apply to college or try and get a job.”

Guggenheim, known for documentaries such as “An Inconvenient Truth” and “Waiting for Superman,” hosted a conference call Tuesday to encourage students to sign a petition supporting immigration reform based on the DREAM Act in a campaign titled The Dream is Now.

Guggenheim said his personal experiences have shaped his opinions on the need for immigration reform.

“My father was also a filmmaker and I remember him making a documentary about the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island,” he said during the call. “He taught me that immigration is what makes America great. Years later I lived in Los Angeles and everyone I met was impacted by this broken legislation.”

The Dream is Now campaign is a partnership between Guggenheim and the Emerson Collective which aims to provide supporters of immigration reform, documented and undocumented, with an online platform to voice their support, Guggenheim said.
Guggenheim said he intends to produce a 30-minute documentary based on videos and material submitted by students showing their personal stories and why they believe the DREAM Act is necessary.

The act, proposed by Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois would allow qualified undocumented youth to attempt to obtain citizenship after completing two years of either college or military service, according to the official DREAM Act website.

In 2010, the act failed to pass through the Senate, and since its failure, Congress has updated and revised the proposed legislation.

Ruben Canedo, The Dream is Now college outreach director, said students are crucial to the mission of the campaign.

“We all clearly understand that college students will be the next generation of leadership,” Canedo said. “We also understand the unbelievable transformative impact that college students have through their personal networks and social media outlets to help spread this passion and support to improve the immigration system and do justice to their peers.”

Without the passage of the DREAM Act, these students cannot receive financial aid from schools or secure a stable job, despite having grown up in the U.S., Canedo said.

“Undocumented students are hungry to contribute to their communities,” Canedo said. “These are Americans from various backgrounds who can instantly alleviate the current needs of our health care system, judicial system, education system and much more.”

The economic impact of granting these students citizenship amounts to an estimated $148 billion, according to the campaign’s website.

“With ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ we saw real change happen,” Guggenheim said. “A documentary can do a lot, but it takes people to join in.”

Several BU students said the campaign’s efforts are admirable and the passage of the DREAM Act is important for U.S. citizens and students.

David Torres, a College of Communication junior, said he is hopeful the documentary will have a positive impact on the BU community.

“If anything, the film can help BU students realize the world is more than just the suburbs or the small commonwealth bubble,” he said. “Hopefully this film will take the invisible DREAM Act students and give them a light so they may share their stories and connect with people to bring about some kind of change.”

Marina Shub, a postgraduate School of Law student who said she is familiar with Guggenheim’s work, said she was glad he is working on the campaign, but is not convinced it will bring about significant change.

“It is a very important issue that is now ripe for discussion and has a clear solution,” Shub said. “With that said, I don’t think the film will impact the issue itself or get government attention. The DREAM Act was introduced 12 yeas ago, and Congress still has yet to agree.”

1 Response for “Filmmaker seeks student support on immigration reform”

  1. Dave Francis says:

    You cannot just construct the initial double or triple layer fence as determined under the 2006 Secure Fence Act signed into law by former President Bush. Because it is assumed that somewhere between 40 to 46 percent of people on business trips, visitors and on educational visas overstays don’t return to their home country. As efficient as the 2006 secure fence act would be, some new concept should be used to track overstays. In other countries including Mexico they know whether you have left, once the dated visa runs out. But we only have to study Immigration policies here, to recognize how lapse they are; intentionally voted that way or not? Entering another foreign nation such as Mexico is a Felony, but not here? For first time offenders it’s a loose rap on the hand and deportation and that’s if you can catch them at the border?

    Entering this sovereign country without permission is a simple civil infraction; nothing to deter anybody there? It just encourages more to pour in, which is what big businesses demand. From the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control (IRCA) that was one monolithic travesty, because the laws in place were never enforced. In the last few weeks President Obama and his incredulous Liberal Socialist have found the “Sequester” a good excuse to release unknown numbers of illegal aliens back in the American job market. I assume that entities like the United States Chamber of Commerce, Unions and corporate cash have much to do with dismissing these people into the streets as cheap labor. I firmly deem now that Americans placing trust in decades of the prior elected tenant/lawmakers present and future faces with the majority swearing false oaths to the people, indifferent to the concerns of the people, filling their pockets with special interest favors.

    Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, the former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, now serves on the immigration subcommittee in a statement on today:

    “Amnesty is not the answer, but enforcing the laws we already have on the books. Amnesty advocates argue that our immigration system is broken and can only be fixed by legalizing millions of illegal immigrants. But they ignore the real problem plaguing our system today: lack of enforcement of laws already on the books. America has the most generous immigration system in the world, admitting one million legal immigrants every year. There is a right way and a wrong way to enter our country. The right way is to play by the rules and wait your turn, not cut in front of the line and ignore the law. Better border and interior security will benefit American taxpayers and workers and make our communities safer. But even if the border itself is secure, that doesn’t mean that individuals won’t continue to gain legal entry and remain in the country illegally. That happens when those on student, visitor or business visas don’t return home after their short-term visa has expired. They account for 40% of all illegal immigrants, more than four million people. Border security must go hand-in-hand with interior enforcement. Congress can take numerous actions to reduce illegal immigration at the border and inside the country. Some of these merely require that the government enforce existing law:

    Require employers to only hire legal workers. This will reduce the magnet of the easy availability of jobs that entices many to enter illegally. And it will reduce the competition for scarce jobs that hurts legal workers. More than 425,000 employers have signed up voluntarily for E-Verify that ensure that prospective hires are legally authorized to work in the U.S. And 99.5% of legal workers are confirmed immediately. (Gathering dust in Congress is the LEGAL WORKFORCE LAW, H.R. 2885)
    Increase work-site investigations by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to make sure employers are hiring legal workers. This will protect jobs for unemployed or underemployed Americans. Unfortunately, work-site enforcement is down 70% under the Obama administration.
    Implement an entry-exit system using biometrics (such as fingerprints) to identify those who entered on a temporary visa and overstayed their visit. They comprise almost half of all illegal immigrants. This administration has ignored the law requiring them to set up this system.
    Increase border resources and personnel so that fewer illegal immigrants will enter undetected. For every person apprehended today, others escape notice. The Government Accountability Office has determined that only 6.5% of the southern border is under “full control” of the Border Patrol.
    Refuse to issue visas to residents of countries that won’t allow their citizens to be returned home after they have committed crimes in the U.S. Many of these individuals are now released back into our communities where they often commit additional crimes.
    Expand the Secure Communities program, which identifies illegal immigrants who have been arrested for crimes. These offenders should be detained and then sent home, not released. The Obama administration allows some cities to ignore this law.
    Stop giving automatic citizenship to children (BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP BILL, H.R. 140) born to illegal immigrant parents, which represents about 10% of all births in the U.S. today. At least one parent should be in the country legally. Automatic citizenship rewards illegal parents and often tempts them to enter the U.S. just to give birth.

    Even if Congress enacts all these provisions, which still doesn’t guarantee they will be implemented. All laws are useless unless they are enforced. And it’s the president who can choose to enforce or not enforce laws, as we have seen many times. Regardless of what initiatives are taken or what legislation is enacted, the flow of illegal immigrants will never stop. Some foreigners will not want to wait in line, others will take their chances and work illegally, and others will risk using fraudulent documents. What’s more, if current legislative proposals to legalize millions of illegal immigrants are approved, amnesty advocates threaten to file lawsuits delaying enforcement provisions. So the enforcement measures will be tied up in court, but the amnesty provisions will go into effect immediately. The result is amnesty but no enforcement of border security. And as we’ve learned, amnesty without enforcement only leads to more illegal immigration.
    Amnesty advocates promise that they’ll secure the border and enforce our laws once they get what they want — legalization of those in the country illegally. We’ve heard those promises in the past — and they were never kept. We should not reward those who have broken our laws with amnesty. Even if we did, there is no guarantee that the border or interior would become more secure. “

    Any person who believes America is turning into a thirds world country, should sign a petition against the Gang of Eight’s proposal who are in opposition to 23 million unemployed Americans at: NumberUSA You can also contact every Representative demanding no Amnesty and no Path to Citizenship at 202) 224-3121, the general Washington switchboard. YOU–THE CITIZEN VOTER HAS MORE PERSUASION OVER CONGRESS, THAN YOU REALIZE.

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