Johny Golightly – University College
“100 years ago America had men of color working the fields and women of color working the household. It still does, and that’s all that needs to be said about that *continues working with women of all color/age/ability/class for rights and respect for all*”-Color Tweets by @pushinghoops, Ayesha A. Siddiqi
Dennis Michael Lynch will be the first to tell you that he has no political experience, has only voted once in his life and is not a Democrat or a Republican. He establishes himself as an individual with no background, education or credibility on the topic of immigration, specifically undocumented immigration. I could bet you he also gave very little thought to the long and far-reaching impact his voice, the voice of a white male citizen of the United States of America, would have, especially to our state of New Mexico. I am writing this review of the film They Come to America to correct factual errors where the film misinforms with the unresearched, unsupported, hateful opinions of a far-right man. I can’t breakdown them all here now but the film is a waste of time and uses fear-mongering rhetoric and tactics to oppress people of color. This review will help you debunk some of those myths in the film and help you separate the actual facts from the unknowledgeable pale views imposed by Lynch. In the film you will hear hateful opinions towards Mexican immigrants believed to be undocumented from privilege persons not of color.
Dennis Michael Lynch neglected his duty to be a responsible filmmaker. In interviews he’ll ask loaded and leading questions. In promoting the film, he admits that he has a fear of immigrants raping his daughters. In America 52% of convicted rapist are white, and 28% report that they were married. He is statistically more likely to rape to his own daughters.
These subversive opinions of few shown at our university help preserve hateful language like “wetback” and “illegal immigrant.” In responses from the undocumented he speaks with, it is painstakingly obvious that there is a language divide. This film will expose you to some opinions of privileged white Americans who believe that immigrants should have to learn English. “Why do I have to learn Spanish? I have all the other qualities I need.” Never let your humanity be siphoned off by your political views, especially views that don’t consider the facts. Knowledge can never hurt you; in fact the ability to speak multiple languages increases communication and understanding across cultures.
Another fallacy in this movie is the notion that “illegal immigrants are not afraid of the law.” Undocumented immigrants are afraid of the law and speak with humility, in a speech delivered by a Dreamer Carla in the film. “I have been afraid! The thought of deportation caused my family to flee our home and leave everything, our jobs…our friends,” said Mauricio, an undocumented worker who cannot defend himself because of the fear of deportation.
In America, people are presumed innocent until proven guilty, so using the term “illegal” to refer to a person is demeaning and oppressive. In the film, racist Americans toting guns along the border call immigrants Mexicans and OTM’s (Other than Mexicans). Lynch could have taken this opportunity to correct this and elaborate on forced immigration. The association with a Mexican being undocumented and then associated with being a criminal, drug trafficker or terrorist is fallacious. This film does not look at what the U.S. has done to cause this, the environment in Mexico or why people come here.
Dennis Michael Lynch isn’t creative or a critical thinker. He follows a logic not based on facts but rather his “gut” feelings. In fact a great portion of this film is dedicated to scapegoating the immigration population for America’s failing economy. According to the White House, immigrants build and strengthen our economy by creating a demand for goods, creating jobs for themselves and their fellow Americans, and immigration reform will help pay our deficit as a country. The North American Fair Trade Act also tied economies across arbitrary borders to ours, which increased immigration because jobs were taken out of foreign countries, and this decreased wages for immigrant workers who were forced to migrant here to put food on the table to feed their children.
The closing of E.W. Bower elementary in New York is scapegoated on an immigrant population. In 2011 when the school closed due to state budget cuts of the 244 students, 216 were white students, 19 were Hispanic students.
In the film there are interviews with students learning English as a second language. Lynch uses this as an opportunity to instill self-hatred to the students of color. The language barrier doesn’t help the students fully comprehend his questions either, rather than have a conversation they go on and accept as the truth and because of the institutions ingraining this into them. A white male is telling me I’m ripping off the system, so they believe it. You also see Lynch hypocritically exploit an“undocumented worker in the film by promising him a garage to live in if he can fix it, without paying the undocumented worker. After a brief crush Lynch develops for Mauricio, Lynch tells Mauricio he can not live there at all and has no money to pay him.
The level of animosity in the body language and speech from some Americans demonstrates that fear and lack of knowledge can harm a community to the point of violence.
The film features a university professor, Roy Beck, who said, “Immigrants are not our problem, policy is.” According to his logic, immigration will overpopulate the U.S. and create such a burden Americans will not being able to function comfortably. If the immigrant population is going to five hundred million immigrants in the next 20 years, then it could stand to reason that around you just about anyone could be an immigrant.
Lynch was able to find interviews from people with special powers! It’s a surprising trait I didn’t know existed! They have the innate ability to predict future crimes and reveal complete histories of strangers. This quote comes from Ayesha A Siddiqi on the topic of color, “If you can’t imagine people of color beyond their stereotypes of their racial membership, you have the imagination of a colonist.”
Broadcasting this film in an educational space should be accompanied by the other view as well, otherwise the hate speech will play a role in unfairness and can greatly influence students towards violent and uncaring, micro aggressive behaviors on campus. Regardless of who you are, you matter. My problem with this film is that it provided a vehicle of aggression for pro-racist dialogue that perpetuates hatred and violence towards Mexican American immigrant students at UNM.
Here is a reminder of our University Policy: The University values the diversity of its students, faculty, staff and the other people with whom it interacts. The University is a forum for the expression, consideration and evaluation of ideas. The educational process on campus is clearly enriched and strengthened by the fact that these ideas arise and are evaluated from such different perspectives.
The University is committed to increasing participation in the University by populations historically underrepresented at UNM (Hispanics, Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, students from rural areas and first-generation college students); recruiting and supporting a diverse faculty and staff; and fostering diverse intellectual approaches to teaching, research and creative activity.
The University is further committed to creating and maintaining a diverse community and a campus in which students, faculty and staff can learn and work together in an atmosphere that is productive and free from harassment, exploitation, intimidation, hate crimes, discrimination and retaliation. The University will act decisively and promptly to deal with those who engage in criminal acts and who violate applicable administrative policies and procedures, thereby demonstrating in the strongest terms that such actions will not be tolerated on this campus.