From the Field

UNDIVIDED (a documentary): 3 Communities, 1 Struggle

Catharine Debelle • Jul 14, 2011

The film UNDIVIDED presents a fresh perspective on the issue of immigration. The 30 minute documentary invites viewers into three very different communities located in Tucson, Arizona; Washington D.C.; and Oakland, California. Following the personal narratives of three youth, the film exposes how immigration policies are transforming our communities and how youth are paving the way for an era of creative resistance.

Tucson, Arizona:

On April 23, 2010, the broadest and strictest anti-immigrant measure in recent US history, Senate Bill 1070, was passed in Arizona. SB1070 makes it a crime for a foreign national to be in Arizona without carrying the required documents, and cracks down on those sheltering, hiring and transporting undocumented peoples.

“There are multiple states right now where SB1070 copycat bills are being introduced” said Cloee Cooper one of the producers of the film. “Residents are already seeing the impacts of this debate through racial profiling and a sense of danger, and that changes what a community is and feels like.”

Arizona has been ground zero of the immigration debate.

In the film UNDIVIDED we follow the story of Nicolette Gomez. Nicolette works closely with the grassroots organization Tierra y Libertad Organization (TYLO). Members, supporters, and allies of the organization work for positive social change and to heighten respect for the land, people, and culture. Nicolette works with the organization’s four key programs: Barrio Sustainability Project, TYLO Freedom School, MAIZ, and the Migrant Rights Organizing Campaign. Nicolette has also been actively organizing alongside U.N.I.D.O.S. to keep ethnic studies in the high schools of Tucson, Arizona.

Washington D.C.:

In Washington D.C. our nation’s capital, the film travels to Howard University’s campus. Howard University is a Historically Black College. A particularly poignant argument made in this film is the need for a cross cultural alliance between the African American community and other minority groups with the fight for immigration rights.  Today, nearly a half-century after the ratification of the 14th amendment, we find our country again engulfed in a national debate as to who-is and who-is-not American. As anti-immigrant sentiment sweeps the country, what will become of the civil rights advances that we fought so hard to achieve?

President L. Davis attends Howard University.  In August, 2010, President helped organize a delegation to Arizona amid the passage of controversial SB 1070.  Visits along the delegation included the US/Mexico border, Tierra Y Libertad Organization in Tucson, the office of infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his Tent City in Phoenix, as well as members of the undocumented community and immigrant rights activists and supporters.  While in Arizona, President documented what he saw and the responses from fellow students on the delegation. Find his account in the recently released documentary “A Look Inside SB1070.”  Upon return, President led an east coast college speaking tour titled, “No More Arizonas,” connecting with students across campuses and talking about the ways students are speaking out against the network of anti-immigrant organizations behind legislation such as SB1070.

Oakland, CA

Finally, we see in California that the effect of strict immigration policy does not only impact the US-Mexico border. The San Francisco Bay Area was once a sanctuary for immigrants. Today, raids on homes and workplaces have become commonplace, threatening to worsen with the recent adoption of the Secure Communities Program.

Cicily Cooper is a member of Community Action & Defense, a network of activists and organizers in the Bay Area who are working together to extend solidarity to those facing deportation and/or detention. After returning from Tucson, Arizona and the US/Mexico border with the volunteer organization, No More Deaths, Cicily realized that the immigration battle extends far beyond the border. When she returned to work, she overheard her colleague speaking of the potential deportation of his wife. In collaboration with other members involved in Community Action & Defense and his family, they organized a community fundraiser to fight her deportation and immigration proceedings. They continue to rally support for the return of Araceli Guzman-Rios, who was separated from her family and deported to Mexico on March 24, 2011.

UNDIVIDED captures a few examples of the courageous work that young people all over the country are engaged in.

“Young people are doing the work, challenging old borders that have divided us in the past and discovering new ways of relating.” said Sophia Cooper, the director of the film.

The documentary will begin screening on college campuses and at film festivals this fall. For information on upcoming screenings, follow the film online: Twitter: @imagine2050.

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