Life Without Mexicans? A Film Screening Aims at Starting An Immigration Dialogue In Long Beach

 

With the Trump administration ushering in a wave of immigration reforms in its first few days of power, the satirical question of what it would be like without a Mexican, or at least some of those currently living in the US undocumented, has become more of a reality than hypothetical.

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In his first full week in office, President Donald Trump has already delivered on some of his key promises made during his campaign for the White House, many of which could impact Hispanics, namely those granted temporary immunity from former President Barack Obama through executive orders.

On Tuesday, Council Members Lena Gonzalez and Roberto Uranga are hosting a screening of Sergio Arau’s 2004 satire piece A Day Without A Mexican inside city hall. The free screening will fill the void left by the council’s regularly scheduled day off with an internationally acclaimed film that visits the alternate reality of a California suddenly devoid of its Mexican populations.

AdaywithoutamexicanIn a joint statement posted to an invite page on social media, the council members said that the country is in dark times, attributing some of that to the rhetoric used by Trump. On the campaign trail the president referred to “bad hombres” living in this country illegally, most notably stating that Mexico was sending its criminals and rapists to the United States.

“We thought it was important to address the economic impact there would be if there was a mass deportation in the United States,” the invite says.

Uranga, who represents the city's west side which has a large concentration of Latino residents, said that aside from general concerns of Trump's xenophobic rhetoric he's heard very little in terms of people fearing actual deportation. However, he pointed out that a member of his staff was granted temporary immunity under former-President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order, something that Trump has pledged to cancel. 

"Right here in my office I have a DACA child who works for me," Uranga said. "Her concerns are very very real in terms of what would the president’s repeal of Obama’s executive order for DACA would mean to her."

He said the film will highlight the impacts on small businesses in Long Beach, especially those in the service and labor industries that rely so heavily on immigrant labor. Uranga has been deeply involved with the recent deportation of one Long Beach resident, making trips to the border to speak with him and helping pass a resolution by the council to push the federal government for humanitarian parole of the deported man. He estimated that upward of 40,000 people living in the city could be affected by Trump's proposed deportation force and he's hopes to shed light on what that could mean if those people are sent home. 

"It’s a real shame that people misunderstand the fact that while they might be undocumented immigrants they are contributing to the economy and they do pay taxes," Uranga said. "They pay a tax when they buy milk, they pay a tax when they buy their tortillas, their pan dulce, any product that they buy they’re paying taxes on."

Last February the Wall Street Journal dived into the issue of how strict immigration reform policies affected California’s neighbor, Arizona. Two separate studies detailed in the article revealed that immigration tactics employed by Arizona lawmakers led to worker shortages in industries reliant on immigrant labor, that only 10 percent of those jobs lost by immigrants were eventually gained by legal immigrants or Arizona natives and a drop in the state’s gross domestic product (GDP) of about two percent per year between 2008 and 2015.

The study was careful to point out that the decline in GDP happened to coincide with the great recession that struck the nation hard as a whole, but because of the departure of around 200,000 immigrants since 2007, the businesses they used to frequent were left to deal with a shrinking customer base and a state with fewer employed workers overall.


 

In September, a the New York Times analyzed a 509 page report titled The Economic Fiscal Consequences of Immigration, published by the National Academy of Sciences found, among other things, that the net costs of first generation immigrant adults costs the country about $1,600 each. However, the second and third generations resulted in a net positive of $1,700 and $1,300 respectively. The impact for those generations during the span of the study (2011-2013) was $30.5 billion for second generation and $223.8 billion third generation immigrants.

“Immigration is integral to the nation’s economic growth,” the report read. “The inflow of labor supply has helped the United States avoid the problems facing other economies that have stagnated as a result of unfavorable demographics, particularly the effects of an aging workforce and reduced consumption by older residents. In addition, the infusion of human capital by high-skilled immigrants has boosted the nation’s capacity for innovation, entrepreneurship, and technological change.”

The Long Beach City Council is one of the most diverse legislative bodies in the state if not the country. Gonzalez, Uranga and Mayor Robert Garcia are of Latino heritage and the council is nearly one-half women and has three African-American members.

They govern a city of over 470,000 people, the majority of which are not defined as being white only, according to the most recent figures disclosed by the United States Census Bureau. From 2010-2015, the years covered by the data, nearly 41 percent of the city identifies as Hispanic or Latino in origin with roughly 26 percent of the city’s residents listed as being born in another country.

In terms of what can accomplished through the screening of the film next Tuesday, Uranga said he only hopes to start a dialogue among community members about what exactly it means for Long Beach to be a diverse and inclusive city. He likened it to the international terminal discussions that concluded this week, stating that it brought people together who had differing opinions, but ultimately it created an avenue to find the solution that was right for this city. 

"Trump might be talking about America first, but we’re talking about Long Beach first," Uranga said. "That’s where we’re from. We want to make sure that our communities, our neighborhoods, our families are strong, that they’re safe, and they’re engaged in every aspect of what’s happening in Long Beach."

The free screening is scheduled for Tuesday January 31 from 5:00PM to 7:00PM inside the Long Beach City Council chamber located at 333 West Ocean Boulevard inside City Hall. Those interested in attending are asked to RSVP here

 



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