IMAGINE Magazine-Spring2016 - Page 13

E X P LO R AT I O N S Seeing Both Sides of Immigration by ​Lourdes Lee Vasquez, writer, p ​ roducer and director of The Immigration Paradox documentary I n 2004 I participated in a California protest asking for a fair wage for Taco Bell tomato pickers, who, at the time, and possibly still now, happened to be undocumented immigrants and therefore were being of my comfort zone and walk over to the “opposing” side to find out for myself why they were against the side I was standing with. Little did I know they also had their own think tanks, experts, and scholars who provided all sorts of facts and figures that will emphasize one side or the other. The question that you need to ask yourself is who frames your world for you? And do you choose the framing? And I don’t mean, ‘Oh, I choose to exploited. From that moment on, immigration became my topic of interest. I began to recognize the exploitation all around me and see dreams that had come to a halt. Migrants were being blamed for all of the country’s woes, which I knew was not right. I reached out to think tanks, experts, and scholars on immigration in order to get the facts straight and make a well researched documentary that would end up proving my case.   One day in 2007, while attending another protest, I decided to step out them with facts and statistics to prove me wrong. And in no time, it became a circular argument that was taking us deeper into an abyss. As Dr. Alan Gomez, a philosopher and historian explains: “One of the things that we don’t recognize is that we are fighting over the meaning of facts. Do immigrants take jobs away from Americans? Are immigrants a drain on the U.S. economy? Is America being overrun by immigrants? Are immigrants not interested in becoming part of society? Do immigrants not contribute to society? There are watch Fox News.’ No, the question is what are you omitting in the choices that you make? And it’s those omissions, where I think the debate is taking place.” I realized I had not reached out to understand, but rather to prove my point, and by that I was omitting their stories. I knew I needed to change the approach for my documentary. Admittedly, I found it very difficult to empathize with someone who was dehumanizing and criminalizing the very people and information I chose to surround myself with. In