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  • Immigration and Tolerance: Have Movies Done Justice to the Stories

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    In today’s world, immigrants are getting the scary, unmistakable message that they aren’t welcome. While this message has been present in our lives for centuries, it becomes more obvious at certain times. Politics and government lead to the welcoming attitudes or to the hateful language. Some Americans don’t want their government to translate documents to Spanish, for instance.


    “A Day Without a Mexican”

    Immigrants contribute greatly to the economy of the United States. Whether these immigrants came with their papers or not, they want to contribute to society.

    In 2004, “A Day Without a Mexican” began showing in movie theaters. The movie’s message was unmistakable: Without Mexicans or undocumented workers of other nationalities, several different types of jobs would go undone. Maids, dishwashers, housekeepers, landscapers, migrant field workers and health aides all do mainly low-level jobs that Americans often refuse to do.


    Shortly after President Trump was inaugurated, immigrants and U.S. citizens of color stayed away from their jobs. They wanted to do this to make a point: The United States would suffer economically if undocumented workers were deported in large numbers. After all, will an American really take a job as a landscaper if an easier job is available? Landscaping is difficult, hot and dirty work. Even if that American has a degree, learning to translate documents to Spanish, for example, he may choose to work as a waiter or in a coffee shop, rather than at backbreaking labor.


    Can People Learn Tolerance from the Movies?

    Many times, movies take their material from real life. A good example is “Gangs of New York,” which showed a young Irish immigrant after his release from prison. He wants revenge against his father’s murderer, who is an anti-immigrant leader. In “Gangs of New York,” Amsterdam Vallon, the Irish immigrant struggles to survive. He also works hard to carve out a place for Irish immigrants who had recently moved to the U.S. and to New York City, says Wikipedia.


    While “Gangs of New York” tried to show the struggles of Irish immigrants, its message was overshadowed by the violence throughout the film. It also overlooked the influence of different elements of the Ku Klux Klan, which consisted of educated leaders, as well as its low-income, uneducated members. The film also overlooked efforts by state legislators to exclude members of faiths whose leaders lived outside the U.S. This meant Catholics, whose Pope lived and worked in Rome, according to the City Journal.


    Teaching Kids Tolerance

    Children absorb so much from the environment around them. If their parents demonstrate acceptance and love, their children will do the same.


    To help combat hate crimes and hatred of immigrants, schools can translate documents to Spanish. Parents can show movies that expose their children to new people, beliefs and traditions. “Lights for Gita” tries to show how hard it can be for someone to adapt to a new country. “From Far Away” shows how Saoussan has to adjust to Canada.