I recently attended the Washington, D.C., premiere of Citizens United’s latest documentary, “Border War,” a powerful film that takes place on the frontline of the U.S.-Mexican border.
The Georgetown theater was packed with press, members of Congress, film crew and community activists—but that’s not enough. To thoroughly understand illegal immigration, every American should see this gripping and eye-opening documentary. They should also demand that their member of Congress and local legislators see it and respond to a situation they have overlooked for too long.
“Border War” was conceived by Kevin Knoblock, the film’s writer/director, who co-produced the documentary with David Bossie. Below is my interview with Bossie, president of Citizens United.
How did your organization become involved in filmmaking?
Quite unexpectedly. The impact of Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” on the political debate in 2004 took us and the rest of the conservative movement completely by surprise. I realized for the first time how powerful documentaries can be in politics and the culture of our nation. Citizens United responded with our first film, “Celsius 41.11: The Temperature at Which the Brain Begins to Die”—a rebuttal to Moore. Since then we have produced “Broken Promises: The United Nations at 60,” a scathing analysis on the failures of the UN, and now “Border War: The Battle Over Illegal Immigration.”
What makes “Border War” different from the other attempts by conservative filmmakers?
This is the first major effort by conservatives to explore the volatile issue of illegal immigration through film. While we certainly come at the issue from an “enforcement first” perspective, “Border War” presents all points of view and really challenges viewers to consider this enormously complicated public policy issue. Whereas Michael Moore and the propagandist left simply tell their followers what to think, we invite and encourage debate.
How does the audience reception on “Border War” compare with that of Citizens United’s other documentaries? What do you want the audience to take away from this film?
As with our other films, the reception to “Border War” has been fantastic. We received a standing ovation at our premiere in San Diego. U.S. Border Patrol agents in Nogales came in large numbers to our premiere; they really appreciated their story being told. We have had premieres in nine cities already, and the theaters were packed. We are making an impact. But it all goes back to those U.S. Border Patrol agents in Nogales—I want audiences to see for themselves how skilled and hard working our Border Patrol agents truly are despite difficult circumstances. I want “Border War” to do for the U.S. Border Patrol what the TV show “Cops” did for everyday police officers.
“Border War” illustrates the effects of illegal immigration through several people’s eyes. Was there one person in the movie that crystallized the issue for you?
It would have to be federal agent Jose Luis Maheda. I witnessed this brave border patrol agent get assaulted by an illegal immigrant attempting to evade arrest. Agent Maheda is extremely skilled, perfectly bilingual, and compassionate as can be. He is representative of all the agents down at the border who are not being adequately supported by our government. They are being asked to perform an incredibly difficult job with limited resources and without a clear mandate. It is time for Congress to step up to the plate and do its part in helping our border patrol secure the border.
Some critics on the left have referred to “Border War” as “anti-immigration.” How do you respond to that charge?
Anybody who says that obviously didn’t watch the film. For starters, we give prominent open-borders advocate Enrique Morones a great opportunity to explain his point of view. We have a fundamental disagreement, but he is given a fair and substantive opportunity to express his position. But more importantly, this film is about “illegal immigration” and what it is costing America in terms of jobs, crime, social services, and our national security. “Border War” is anti-illegal immigration. Legal immigration, on the other hand, is what makes America great.
One liberal columnist wrote that the film is “much less inflammatory than I was hoping.” How has showing several perspectives on illegal immigration given “Border War” more credibility?
Well, I think you have to consider your audience. When taking a snapshot of the issue, you can choose to flatter those who already agree with you and try to incite your critics, or you can reach out and try to persuade through reason, facts, and meaningful anecdotes. We chose the latter course because intellectual honesty has a greater long-term impact than propaganda. We recognize that this is a tough issue. We are talking about real lives, and real people here. Making this film has only made me more compassionate for those who risk their lives to come to this country and those who protect our border. But this is no excuse to condone breaking the laws already on the books.
Lupe Moreno, head of Latino-Americans for Immigration Reform, is a powerful voice throughout the movie on how illegal immigration has harmed their own people. In fact, many may be surprised to sympathize with border crossers by the end of the movie. Who are the real enemies in this war?
The real enemies in this war are the coyotes—the smugglers who abandon their human cargo to die in the deserts. They are the kingpins in this modern day slave trade. They are creating a lawless culture of complete criminality in the Southwestern United States by taking advantage of their own people’s desire for opportunity.
On the other side of the issue, Enrique Morones of Border Angels, a group that helps people cross illegally by giving them food, water and other supplies, says, “We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us.” What does that statement mean to you?
Enrique has the right to his opinion, but he has his history wrong. California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas are rightfully American states and our government has every right, duty and obligation to protect our sovereignty. Unfortunately, this “reconquista” mentality, this desire to recapture Mexico’s supposedly lost provinces, is prevalent. We’re not going to sugarcoat this reality.
Arizona Congressman J.D. Hayworth has been a strong proponent of an enforcement-first immigration policy. Who are some other lawmakers that have been good on this issue?
There are not enough! But Rep. Hostettler (R.-Ind.), Sen. Sessions (R.-Ala.), Rep. Tancredo (R.-Colo.), and Rep. King (R.-Iowa) certainly stand out in my mind. We will continue to work with everybody who is serious about protecting our border.
Is Citizens United making “Border War” available to members of Congress?
We have had several members of Congress join us for our “Border War” premieres in several cities nationwide. “Border War” will also be coming out on DVD on October 10, and we will deliver DVDs to every member of Congress.
Congressman Hayworth states matter-of-factly in the film, “The Right view immigrants as cheap labor and the left view them as cheap votes.” Is there hope for change when both sides benefit from illegal immigration?
There is always hope when good people are willing to speak up and challenge special interests. Citizens United is committed to grassroots advocacy and influencing the debate on behalf of concerned Americans. “Border War” will certainly help show that amnesty is no solution and that our borders must be secured. But every American, no matter where they live, has a responsibility to do what they can to write to their member of Congress or a letter to the editor to raise public awareness about the threat posed by illegal immigration.
Does Citizens United have any other film projects in the works?
Yes. “ACLU: At War With America” will be out soon. And we are currently teamed up with former Clinton strategist Dick Morris to produce a documentary on Hillary Rodham Clinton for next year.
What can HUMAN EVENTS readers do to raise awareness on illegal immigration?
Reform is always initiated from the ground up. So it is important for HUMAN EVENTS readers to tell their congressman that they oppose amnesty and want our borders secured now. It is also important to get involved with citizen and grassroots organizations. We welcome readers to visit our website at www.CitizensUnited.org and to watch the movie trailer and learn more about Border War at www.BorderWarMovie.com.