The Other Side of Immigration

In The Other Side of Immigration, contemporary immigration issues between the United States and Mexico receive careful study. This documentary uses extensive interviews to outline the experiences and perspectives of ordinary citizens in the Mexican countryside. In examining the economic factors prompting Mexicans to seek work in the United States and the social pressures that result, the film presents an affecting look at a complex political and moral issue. If you want to learn more about why Mexicans migrate to the US, this movie explains it. This is a great introduction to the plight of anyone in Mexico trying to make money to survive. The opening screen says it is based on 700 interviews in rural Mexico. Excellent, excellent interviews with well-spoken, intelligent Mexican locals explain firsthand the people’s plight and what they conclude are the solutions. One benefit of this documentary is to hear the experiences of Mexican families from their own lips–which is a huge input missing in the American conversation about immigration from Mexico. Hear opinions of those who have made it a cycle to come to USA to work, return to Mexico, and then do it all over again. We hear the Mexican side of the story from Mexicans in their own words: telling of local agriculture lamed by imports from the U.S., Mexican aid programs for the rural poor stultified by corruption, children growing up without fathers. This should be called ‘The Human Side of Immigration’ — because that’s exactly what it shows us. Here are the stories, statistics and images that really explain “why?” Why have 12 million people left their homes and risked their lives to come here illegally? The answer is … they have little other choice. The people in this movie want to be able to provide for their family while living in Mexico, but this is no longer possible in rural Mexico, so immigrants must sneak into to the U.S. to find jobs. “Between 1970 and 2008, the number of Mexican immigrants in the United States rose from .7 million to 12.7 million”, for an increase of 12 million. “Throughout the Mexican countryside, there are towns where half the population has left to work in the United States.” What has caused this drastic change? The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of 1994 made it harder for Mexicans to grow and sell produce in their own country, because cheaper American produce took over. I researched this topic extensively in college, and you really have to understand the “push-pull” factors of the immigration issue in order to understand why people are willing/forced to migrate. One of the biggest “push” factors is definitely NAFTA and its ravaging effects on the Mexican agricultural sector. The film does a good job at explaining why so many peasants have been displaced from Mexico’s countryside and forced to migrate due to the inability to compete with American and Canadian imports ever since NAFTA’s inception. It’s like Wal-Mart coming to a small town and outcompeting most of the local shops. I truly believe in capitalism, but you have to understand how these policies have benefited U.S. corporations and corrupt Mexican officials/politicians at the expense of Mexico’s poor. So these immigrants had to start coming to US to get better jobs — to support their families back home. It never dawned on me that these people want to stay in Mexico instead of coming to the US. They love their homeland and really don’t want to have to leave. They don’t want to go through the struggles it takes to get across the border into the US, but they do it because they have to. I was glad they talked a lot throughout about the United States’ big influence in causing this problem. I grew up in Mexico before NAFTA, and back when I was a teenager everyone had derided the idea of moving to the US. But when NAFTA was first implemented, I personally saw how businesses closed and farmers left their fields. There were a lot of people in the streets begging for money, and the standard of living suffered as well. Everything became more expensive. It came to the point where it became a necessity for many people to migrate to the USA. As a result, right after the early 2000’s, you could see slow improvements in Mexico: in the better condition of houses, and kids wearing better clothes and carrying cell phones. Now just about everyone has a family member working in the U.S. It’s been an extremely dramatic change. So this film does a great job explaining why NAFTA has been forcing so many Mexicans to migrate illegally, and it helped me better understand from their perspective. This is an amazing documentary that shows us the perspective of the migrants and the reasoning behind why they have to do what they do. Although I have seen two movies documenting the treacherous dangers of crossing the border, this movie is necessary to understand their motivations for trying to cross the border. Watched this film for my Cultural Diversity class in college. The saying there are two sides to every story is something to keep in mind as you watch this. I recommend this to anyone who thinks they know both sides of the immigration issue — there is more there than meets the eye. This is a wonderful look at a very pressing topic. I think the director finally gave a fair voice to the people that immigrate to the U.S. every year. The film also helps us to understand that the largely-corrupt Mexican government has absolutely no reason to stop illegal immigration — rather the opposite: the many billions of dollars sent home by ‘illegals’ is a major revenue stream for the country of Mexico. Absent that money, hunger and hopelessness could foment a revolution … it’s happened before. So next time you read about that huge fence the U.S. is building, remember that the Mexican government on the other side is praying for holes … lots and lots of holes. Mexico is the 10th largest producer of oil in the world, so the Mexican people could be prosperous, except that the government is corrupt. This is stated over and over again throughout the movie by the people themselves. Makes me wonder if the corruption of the Mexican Government is the future of the US Government? Very well done and VERY eye-opening to the fact that our current system is not working. The film also makes a pitch for six-month work visas–especially since a lot of the immigrants want to return home to their families anyway for part of each year. A work visa program should be revamped to accommodate the number of people that both economies can support as legal migrant workers. Allowing the ‘correct’ number of people to obtain a green card or work visa should be a higher priority (then again, this is a government issue, so good luck with expediency). It would definitely take the risk out of migrating, as well as squelch the “coyote” scum who charge money to smuggle immigrants. The perspective and inside stories shown in this documentary are truly eye-opening. It really opened up my eyes! I have often been involved in conversations where the majority are complaining about immigrants from Mexico. I never had much intelligent to say on the issue, so mostly kept my mouth shut, but this documentary has changed that. Now I have LOTS to say, and hopefully I can encourage others to think more thoughtfully about this issue. There are many people in this country who are willing to give their opinions about this issue without understanding the facts. This is the only documentary that I know of that goes beyond the fear and messages of hate about immigrants in order to tell real stories of real people struggling for a better life for their families. This is a great movie that gets to the core of the “immigration problem” without resorting to the divisive tactics so often seen when approaching this subject. It is heartfelt and human — everyone should see it. It is extremely informative and has helped sway the views of many conservatives opposed to immigration. Except for American Indians, almost everyone else in the United Sates is here because they have ancestors who were immigrants. But American vigilantes hunt down and kill Mexican immigrants crossing the border. I now feel a greater compassion for these people of Mexico. No longer will I look at the ‘illegals’ with distrust. Watching this film also sheds some light on the point of view of other misunderstood minorities, who are unable to provide a future for their families in their native countries. I praise the director for bringing light to such a hot topic. Very simple and straightforward, very moving, and informative for those of us North of the Border. It is a very insightful and thought-provoking movie. This film was excellent — absolutely, positively excellent.  I really liked this documentary — LOVED it! I wish more Americans would watch this film. I hope you watch it. Watch this fine movie, and feel your brain (and heart) expand. ***** 5 Stars ***** Documentary 2009 NR 55 minutes.

I also highly recommend the documentary The Harvest (La Cosecha) to see how children are working in U.S. fields helping their families survive instead of finishing school. And also watch “Romantico”… no statistics, no politics, just all heart, and unforgettable.

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The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) 1994

The goal of NAFTA was to eliminate barriers to trade and investment between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. All U.S.-Mexico tariffs have been eliminated. The allowance of free trade removed the hurdles that impeded business between the two countries. USA EFFECTS:  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce credits NAFTA with increasing US trade in goods and services with Canada and Mexico from $337 billion in 1993 to $1.2 trillion in 2011, while the AFL-CIO blames the agreement for sending 700,000 American manufacturing jobs to Mexico over that time. MEXICO EFFECTS:  Mexico has gone from a small player in the pre-1994 import market to the second largest importer of U.S. agricultural products in 2004, and NAFTA may be credited as a major catalyst for this change. As a result, Mexico has provided a growing market for meat for the U.S., leading to an increase in sales and profits for the U.S. meat industry. Imports of corn from the USA have increased, and so corn prices in Mexico have drastically decreased. NAFTA made it harder for Mexicans to grow to and sell produce in their own country because American produce took over.

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