Tags: 'Border | War' | Comes | North | Washington | D.C.

'Border War' Comes North to Washington D.C.

Thursday, 14 September 2006 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON -- On the giant silver screen, Rep. John D. Hayworth, R-Ariz., stands before the twisted, rusted remnants of what used to be a barbed-wired fence.

He looks weary.

"Well, over there is Mexico and here is the U.S.," he laments. "This is your border." Gazing out at the vast desolation, he wistfully adds, "No sensors, no security."

This is just a small vignette from the controversial documentary "Border War: The Battle Over Illegal Immigration" that debuted in Washington, D.C. at the AMC Loews Georgetown the evening of Sept. 13.

Produced by the advocacy group Citizens United, "Border War" — as its president David N. Bossie explained to a full theatre audience before the screening — tells the story through the lives of five individuals marked by the "war" taking place at the U.S.-Mexico border.

"We wanted to explore the most explosive domestic issue of our time by allowing those on the front lines of immigration policy to speak," Bossie said.

"We thought it was important to hear directly from undocumented workers, a high-profile member of Congress [Hayworth], the victims of border violence, open border advocates, Hispanic-American ‘Minutemen,' and U.S. Border Patrol Agents. All of these voices combined make a true and compelling story."

Already screened at premieres in Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego, and Nogales, Ariz., "Border War" is scheduled to continue its road trip with more debut screenings in Dallas, Seattle, San Francisco, and Orange County, Calif.

The Washington D.C. screening was delayed about 20 minutes so some lawmakers could have more time to get across town from Capitol Hill according to Bossie.

The crisply-filmed documentary, which features plenty of close-ups of its cast of unknowns, begins with a dramatic look at the Border Patrol's Nogales operation. Here a harried officer-in-charge scrambles to do what seems to be the impossible job of at least slowing down traffic in human cargo that can reach as high as a thousand people a day.

Targeting the more unscrupulous "coyotes" — who charge the illegals up to $3,000 for transport north to the "promised land" — the harried official is anxious to capture and prosecute these human smugglers for felony transport, a federal crime that puts them in jail.

There is no pretense other than the operation is a finger in the proverbial dike, holding back a tsunami of illegals.

The scene switches smoothly to another principal, this time the bereaved wife of a Los Angeles deputy sheriff who is slain execution-style by an illegal alien during the course of a traffic stop. It turns out that the murderer is a Mexican national who has been caught and released on three prior occasions, even though he is a notorious drug dealer.

The deputy's widow wants justice, but the perpetrator has escaped to Mexico and that country at the time was dragging its bureaucratic feet, ostensibly because of concerns over the American death penalty, a punishment eschewed by law in Mexico.

Switch to one of the founders of Border Angels, a group dedicated to getting life-saving food and water to illegals desperate enough to chance a foot-march across the desert landscapes. These are blameless "economic immigrants," he explains. "They are coming because they are hungry." But then filling the screen is a fed-up rancher who confronts the constant streams of illegals using his property as a thoroughfare.

There follows a field trip to point out the heaps of trash they leave behind. Included are plastic bags that his cattle chew down, causing them to die in the fields.

Despite threats against his life, the stalwart rancher vows, "I'm going to stay here and fight."

Then, a legal Hispanic resident of the United States shakes her head in disgust as she recounts how the illegals come through her town like they own the place.

"Santa Anna sold this place cheap," is how one illegal justifies his law-breaking.

Relentlessly, the audience visits and re-visits each protagonist, each morsel adding to a general feeling of helplessness. The invited coat-and-tie audience sits for the most part silently, every now and then sighing collectively or conservatively cheering when the point is made how the country's sovereignty is getting trampled.

One can hear a pin drop when the deputy's widow returns to the screen to tearfully recount her meeting with George Bush. "He looked us in the eye and said we are going to get him [her husband's murderer]."

In fact after much more disappointment, waiting and angst, the murderer is indeed caught in Mexico and held for extradition to the United States, but without the possibility of the death sentence.

It is the only real moment of closure in the film.

Our Hispanic woman, who has now courageously joined forces with the Minutemen, vows, "I'm going to undue the damage my father did." She says she feels insulted that the U.S. president has called her and her ilk "vigilantes."

Reminding all that the term in Spanish means "watchful," she says she and the others are going to surely remain watchful — until a broken system is fixed.

"The American people are demanding action at the border and 'Border War' offers an accurate account of the current situation," said Bossie.

Citizens United is a Washington-based conservative advocacy organization that advises it is "dedicated to restoring our government to citizens control." The organization previously produced "Celsius 41.11" to counter Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" and "Broken Promises: The United Nations at 60."

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WASHINGTON -- On the giant silver screen, Rep. John D. Hayworth, R-Ariz., stands before the twisted, rusted remnants of what used to be a barbed-wired fence. He looks weary. "Well, over there is Mexico and here is the U.S.," he laments. "This is your border." Gazing out...
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Thursday, 14 September 2006 12:00 AM
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