The town of Manassas in northern Virginia has become a flashpoint in the US immigration debate. In July of 2007, Prince William County, where Manassas is located, passed a law aimed at cracking down on illegal immigrants. Police officers in the county are now required to check immigration papers when they stop suspected illegal immigrants for other crimes. Immigrant rights advocates cried foul, saying the laws required racial profiling. Anti-immigration activists continued their fight for the right not to have to press “one” for English and “two” for Spanish.
Four young documentary filmmakers are chronicling the debate in what they’re calling an “Interactive Documentary” posted on YouTube. Bypassing the usual lag time between filming and releasing, filmmakers are releasing the documentary in segments, encouraging interaction between the Manassas community and the internet community at large.
Although the films are not without bias, they give near-equal time to both immigration and anti-immigration advocates. The filmmakers aim to explore “alternatives to the intense polarization that is hindering progress on the immigration issue.”
You can watch one of the films below, or you can watch them all in order by visiting the website youtube.com/user/9500Liberty
For more information on the US immigration debate, read Putting a Stop to Slave Labor from the March/April issue of Utne Reader.