The Border States of America – Review

By Dave Leach – “Call your congressman right now and tell him to secure the border”, was how this hour-long movie ended.

It airs online, free. It premiered Thursday evening, October 16, 2014. “The most important movie of the year”, promised the personalities on camera before the showing.

The movie made a compelling case that there are terrible problems at the southern border. It showed dead bodies, gave body counts, and told of barbaric treatment of immigrants by coyotes. Most of the heartstring-pulling of the movie was over this abuse of immigrants by coyotes.

Movie narrator Nick Searcy summarized “What we see on the border is neither moral nor compassionate”, shortly before we were advised to call our congressmen to demand they secure the border.

But wait a minute: the movie forgot to tell us what motivated those immigrants to risk such horrible treatment and risks. It must be things worse, right? So to the extent our hearts are recruited to care about such desperate immigrants, whose only remaining hope is mercy from us, how is it more compassionate to shut off their last hope?

The movie cared about citizens too. Five cases were given where undocumented immigrants committed lethal crimes, and were not deported.

Karen Gonzales, Cochise County, Arizona, park service employee. She was attacked by a man with a rock, who later fled and walked across the border back to Mexico. They later caught him and put him in jail.

Javier Vega, border patrol agent. Shot and killed while fishing with his family. His murderers were undocumented immigrants who had been deported 6 times between them. They had weapons and robbery charges before.

Near Portland Oregon, a female undocumented immigrant, 19 years old, ran over and killed two children, hit and run. She is protected by DACA. (Meaning, she was brought here as a child several years ago.) Under DACA guidelines she should have been jailed and then deported, but she was neither.

Louise Sollowin a 93 year old woman was raped and then beaten so badly, by an undocumented immigrant, that not one square foot of the bedroom walls did not have blood splatters on it. Sergio Martinez-Perez, 19, was charged with first degree murder. The woman died 3 days later.

Police officer Brandon Mendoza was killed when Raul Silva-Corona’s car hit his, coming the wrong way for 35 miles. He had been charged with burglary and leaving the scene of an accident before, but treated leniently.

Another lesson of the sketches was that our courts are too lenient with undocumented immigrants. Although from the descriptions given, only the 19-year-old woman, in the third sketch, was treated leniently. In the first and fourth, the perps, who had no prior record, went to jail. In the fifth, the perp died. In the second, the perps had been jailed and deported before, as our laws provide.

I don’t think the movie made a very compelling case that the reason we need to “seal the border” is to keep out a population that includes nearly as many criminals by percentage as there are among citizens. But of course if you have never seen the crime rate, you might think five criminals out of a population of 11 million is pretty alarming.

It was ironic to see these sketches, the day after my wife and I watched “The Immigrant”, an 89 minute movie from 2005, which was about a Texan rancher who shot and killed a fleeing immigrant who had come to his house begging for water. He was convicted by a local jury but only sentenced to 6 months of community service.

Another area of reasons for “sealing the border” was offered by Iowa Congressman Steve King, Roy Beck of Numbers USA, Senator Jeff Sessions, and Tea Party leader George Rodriguez. They served up their usual drivel about the terrible nation-crushing economic impact of immigration. I think the movie made a pretty lousy case for negative economic impact of immigration, by not interviewing once single economist. Steve King majored in math in college but did not graduate. Jeff Sessions is a lawyer. Roy Beck was a reporter. Rodriguez majored in political science. How much of a case can a “documentary” make for sealing the border to save our economy, with a cast of commentators that includes not one single economist? Economists simply don’t paint the dark picture of the economic devastation from immigrants that this crowd does.

One of Roy Beck’s gems was that “not one new job” (sic) has been created for a citizen since 2000. Never mind that Beck comes from a career that places little value on accuracy. Isn’t that claim just a tad too absolute to swallow whole? Perhaps Beck was thinking of Steven Camarota’s report that most new jobs during the Obama administration went to immigrants, although when you analyze his tables you discover he counted naturalized citizens as immigrants. That’s the closest I can think of to any claim like Beck’s. But perhaps Beck was thinking of Camarota and just thought it lacked enough pizazz. Camarota isn’t an economist either, by the way.

Fortunately the movie abandoned some of its original goals. On July 17 a fundraiser for the movie promised the following – this is taken from my article about it that day:

Our documentary will detail how many of these “kids” are actually young men with ties to drug gangs.

(“Ties?” Like fleeing to us from drug gangs who had murdered their friends and parents for not working for them?)

The movie barely mentioned the border children. All it said was that there are problems on the border more than the border children.

Another promise:

It will explain how Obama’s illegal immigration camps are terrible places that could explode in violence at any time.

I wish they had described that, even though that probably isn’t a strong reason to seal the border, since it is the sealing of the border to the extent we have, that has filled those camps. But not one word of the movie went that direction. Another promise:

It will document how our border patrol agents are overwhelmed and not allowed to do their jobs.

I can’t remember if any border patrol agents were interviewed. But much was made of the reliance upon county sheriffs to respond to alien sightings, and how undermanned they are for that job. The movie made it sound like there were no border agents along the border; just sheriffs. An interesting and surprising perspective.

Some figures: Coyotes charge $2-3,000 just to get across the border. It would be a lot safer for immigrants to just turn themselves in to border agents on the Rio Grande bridges, but coyotes won’t allow them; they must cross the dangerous river.

There are 350 million legal crossings a year. 414,000 immigrants are apprehended. Officials say that is about 89% of those who cross, but a sheriff said the real rate is only 30%. 17 million pounds of marijuana come across every year. 6,000 bodies are found. 587,000 have been helped by DACA, which is Obama’s temporary relief from prosecution for young people who were brought to us several years ago as children.

Bodies are not found only at the border. 100 miles from the border, there are checkpoints along highways, where drug dogs are handy and aliens are looked for. Immigrants get out before these checkpoints and walk many miles across private land to get to the other side of them where they are picked up again. 440 bodies were found along this detour in 6 months in Brook County, Texas, alone.

Narrator Nick Searcy didn’t do any personal research before he read his script. Or he would surely not have said “There is a legal path. Those who [unnecessarily] get off the path should not get amnesty.”

Yeah, right. There is a “line”. John Stossel quoted a Forbes study saying the average wait time for a Mexican high school graduate is 130 years. I don’t know how he gets that. My calculations put it closer to 2,000 years. Average.

Before the documentary premiered, there were interviews with several people at the premiere party. One was one of the producers of the documentary about the bloody abortionist Kermit Gosnell who was actually prosecuted for his grisly practices, Phelim McAleer, an Irish immigrant. Phelim made the amazing statement that as an immigrant, he knows how hard it is to come here, but it should be the same for everybody.

But if it were the same for everybody, he wouldn’t have been allowed in – if it were the same for him as it is for the 99% who try to come here but never have the opportunity,

Miraculously, he didn’t seem to mean there is any problem with our laws. He appeared rather to mean that it should be as hard for undocumented immigrants to come here as it was for him. I hesitate to accuse an intelligent respected entrepreneur of such insanity, but to all appearances he actually thought his journey here, endured in wealth and comfort, facilitated by lawyers while he waited, was harsher than the journey of the people shown in the movie who are offered zero “line”, who are not rich enough to stand in the days-long lines outside U.S. embassies, and who must put up their homes as collateral for the lower cost coyotes. And if they survive the deadly journey here, they must dodge U.S. bureaucrats for the rest of their lives.

Conclusion: my appeal starts off the same as the movie’s: call your Congressman right away. After that it differs: demand that the next time he wants to find out the economic impact of immigration, talk to an actual economist. Not that economists are the only people who understand economics and no one else can, but to learn about economics only from people who have never formally studied it, and to never listen to people who have degrees in it, seems a little out of balance.

And then, after your congressman has talked to an actual economist and learned that the more legal immigration we allow, the better for our economy, our national debt, and jobs quality for citizens, demand that he stop this American shooting ourselves in the foot in order to shoot our southern neighbors in the back.

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Discuss: “The Border States of America – Review”

  1. October 17, 2014 at 8:58 am #

    Glad you reviewed this film. there is a strange tendency among the restrictionists groups to set facts and logic aside and rely on emotion

  2. January 16, 2016 at 5:42 pm #

    The Cafe con leche conclusion focused on legal immigration and its positive effects on the economy. I didn’t watch the entire film but it seemed to be more about a huge influx of illegals crossing the southern border, then being shipped around the country and gaining SSNs and other benefits.

    Posted by Annasopranna
    • January 16, 2016 at 7:51 pm #

      Thanks for responding! I wonder how much of the movie you watched? The costs to citizens of immigrant “benefits”, compared to the benefit to citizens of immigrant tax payments, are calculations which economists make very differently than do Undocumented Economists like King, Beck, Sessions, Camarota, and Rodriguez. The calculations of actual economists who received no voice in this film, is to the studies of Undocumented Economists, as a scientific poll of voters is to a show of hands in a bar. The movie is about several things. What it claims about the economic impact of immigration is particularly important because the pessimistic claims of Undocumented Economists – that more immigrants means fewer jobs and lower wages for citizens – is the rationale for keeping out nonviolent hard workers fleeing to us for their lives.

      Posted by dleach

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