Film Explores Race and Immigration
“America; I Too” screening on campus looked at different issues surrounding undocumented people
On Sept. 21, Glendale Community College’s DREAM Resource Center hosted a screening of the a document-style film based on true events but utilizing actors. The 2017 film, “America; I Too,” was directed by Anike Tourse, an award-winning filmmaker. It is a tear-jerking, inspirational film about how people here in United States are immigrants from different countries like Mexico, South Korea, and Somalia. “Eleven million undocumented people live, work, go to school, raise families and contributed to the United States,” according to CHIRLA.org.
Jessica Huerta, a community education coordinator representing the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, talked about how Glendale Community College students discussed racial issues on campus and the diversity on campus, adding that it exemplifies “so many people in California.”
The film emphasized this point and showed how the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as ICE, has had issues with officers unfairly targeting and accusing immigrants of wrongful conduct. For instance, one point of the film shows how they accused a Hispanic young teenager, named Manuel Sanchez, for vandalizing on the walls and weed possession. Sanchez was arrested and put in jail as a result of false accusations. Rather than engaging in vandalism, he was just writing his name on his artwork that he did for a Los Angeles art mural. Further, the film showed the he did not have possession of weed, contrary to what the officer had had.
Sanchez was also suspected of being in a gang because his name came up in a gang database. Another individual with his name had issue in Harlington, Texas, in 2008. In 2008, Sanchez was just 9-years-old. Sanchez was threatened with deportation to Mexico by the officer, the film noted.
In yet another segment of the film, two Korean women, one of them named Jin-Kyong and another who remains unnamed, were caught by ICE enforcement. The two women worked for a fabric company and were taken into custody along with multiple Hispanic employees, most of them women. The officers separated the workers who were illegal and legal immigrants, utilizing their documentation papers as proof. The non-English speaking Korean woman had a hard a time communicating with ICE detectives. Jin-Kyong helped here, as she speaks English. The non-English speaking Korean woman explained, through Jin-Kyong, that she has a grandchild who has autism. She begged the officers to let her go back to her Los Angeles home so she could take care of her granddaughter. The ICE officer cared enough to help the non-English speaking Korean, but the officer did not let her leave without putting an ankle bracelet on her because she did not have legal status and could legally work.
In the film, she complains about the bracelet on her leg. “It is burning my skin, it is too hot!” she said.
Yet another one of the main characters, Ahmed, is a Somalian pizza delivery man who was arrested and would be deported back to his native country. Ahmed does not know anyone in Somalia. In the film, he also shared that he grew up with an abusive father. He described his childhood with vivid examples of the abuse he would endure, including being beaten by his father to a point where he would end up in the hospital. His journey to stay in America was a tough one and included being taken away from his mother.
Tourse is a Los Angeles-based writer, producer and director, who recently won an award for “America; I Too” at the Roxbury International Film Festival. In her film, she played the role of attorney Sarah Gacia. The attorney helped Sanchez get out of prison and has worked to help Ahmed. Tourse graduated from Bates College. Tourse’s website notes that she “has written for daytime serial One Life to Live, for the sitcom series Girlfriends and is the playwright of stage play “No Milk Today” which premiered at the 2015 Fermentation Fest in Reedsburg,Wisconsin.”