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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Immigration Film Festival Debate

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By Sergio Jiménez / New Mexico Daily Lobo

Amber West, current president of the UNM Conservative Republicans, and Donald Gluck, former president and current treasurer of the UNM Conservative Republicans, await the screening of the film “They Come to America II: The Cost of Amnesty,” outside SUB Ballroom A on Tuesday. The UNM Dream Team countered next door in SUB Ballroom B with a screening of their own with the films “Lost in Detention” and “The Dream Is Now.”

GOP: Immigrants are a threat to US

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Parties on both sides of the immigration debate voiced their opinions through two different film screenings Tuesday night at the Student Union Building Ballrooms.

The UNM Conservative Republicans showed “They Come to America II: The Cost of Amnesty,” a documentary-style film that provided information on amnesty for undocumented immigrants. The event took place next to the UNM Dream Team’s screenings of “Lost in Detention” and “The Dream Is Now.”

UNM Conservative Republicans President Amber West said they decided to show the film because they were concerned about various aspects of “illegal immigration,” including amnesty for undocumented immigrants.

“This is just to show our point of view, and we have a discussion afterwards because we want to know what people are thinking about it,” she said.

Donald Gluck, treasurer for the UNM Conservative Republicans, said the organization had planned for this showing since last semester.
“We think the issue should be fully debated and discussed,” he said.

In November, the Conservative Republicans showed the prequel to Lynch’s film, “They Come to America: The Cost of Illegal Immigration.” The showing drew protesters and a petition circulated that condemned the screening and its use of the word “illegal” to describe undocumented immigrants.

UNM Dean of Students Tomas Aguirre attended the screening. He said his job is to support all students and promote an inclusive environment.

“We’re a community where people have different opinions and different perspectives,” he said. “And what’s most important for us as an institution is making sure that individuals have that opportunity to discuss and learn and engage in a civil way.”
Aguirre said he hadn’t heard of any complaints about the Republicans’ second event.

Despite past push-back, West said her organization achieved what it wanted during the last screening by promoting discussion about the topic. She said her organization decided to screen Lynch’s films because of how they portray the subject.

“These movies, although they definitely are from our side of the story, do show both sides of the argument. They’re very open-minded,” she said. “Although the topic is very provocative, these movies attempt to show it in as non-provocative a way as possible.”

Dream Team: People cannot be ‘illegal’

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As UNM Conservative Republicans screened a film about “illegal immigration” Tuesday, the UNM Dream Team countered next door with a screening of its own.

The Dream Team hosted a screening of the films “Lost in Detention” and “The Dream Is Now,” which aim to critique the criminalization of immigration and humanize undocumented immigrants, in Student Union Ballroom B.

The event took place next to the UNM Conservative Republicans’ screening of “They Come to America II: The Cost of Amnesty.”
Annai Burrola, a member of the Dream Team who helped organize the event, said the event focuses on spreading the right facts for students.

“We really want to educate the campus, and we believe that the best way to do that is to show educational films that give facts rather than films that promote hate,” she said. “It wasn’t like we’re trying to do it anti-them. We are just trying to show our side.”

Burrola said she refutes the Republican group’s use of the word “illegal” when referring to undocumented immigrants.

“No one is illegal,” she said. “People come here by choice or either they were brought by their parents, but they aren’t doing anything illegal. They’re simply living their lives. I believe no one is illegal. I believe people are just living their lives.”

Ceci Velasco, a member of the Dream Team, said planning for the screening started last week. She said her organization attended the first part of the Conservative Republicans’ event last semester. She claimed the movies provided false data.

“The film that we saw last semester didn’t give real facts,” she said. “The person who put it together wasn’t a real journalist. The film basically preaches to the choir.”

In November, the Republicans showed the prequel to Tuesday’s film, “They Come to America: The Cost of Illegal Immigration.” The showing drew protesters and a petition circulated that condemned the screening.

But Velasco said that overall, UNM is an immigrant-friendly campus. She said that through her organization’s film screening, students will be more open-minded about immigration issues.

“Our movement is beautiful,” she said. “That’s what we’re here celebrating. Our campus needs this type of events, not ones that target groups and are hateful toward those groups.”