When we began making Farmingville four years ago, our hope was that by telling a story about the challenges and changes in one small American town, communities in other hyper-growth areas would see themselves and perhaps avoid the turmoil that happened in Farmingville, NY, over the presence of Mexican day laborers. We hoped that by viewing the film and engaging in productive dialogue, communities could learn valuable lessons from Farmingville and begin to find their own solutions.
Since completing the film in 2003, the nation has continued to be embroiled in a debate about immigrants and immigration policy with proposals for reform at a standstill. At the same time, the number of immigrants entering the country continues to surge. Many are from Mexico and other Central American countries; many make dangerous trips across the border, seeking low-wage work that benefits their families back home. Instead of the traditional gateway cities like Los Angeles and New York City, many are flocking to towns unaccustomed to receiving large numbers of immigrants such as Raleigh, North Carolina, and Kansas City, where there is a need for cheap labor. With federal policy on hold, communities are being forced to come up with their own solutions to dealing with hate crimes, the extra burden placed on social services, and cultural and linguistic differences.
Our vision for Farmingville has far exceeded our expectations. We are humbled by the many honors it has received and the attention it has gotten in media outlets large and small. Working with American Documentary, we have been able to create the Farmingville Campaign, a national effort that uses the film to stimulate dialogue around issues surrounding day laborers and undocumented workers and highlight best practices around newcomer integration and conflict resolution.
Around the country, schools, community groups, churches, and policy makers are using Farmingville in a variety of ways: for bridge-building, community organizing, initiating productive policy discussions, and addressing racism and anti-Mexican and Latino bias. It’s been so rewarding to see the film at work, playing a meaningful role in bringing together citizens and non-citizens alike around significant public policy and social issues.
By putting a human face on many complex challenges before us, Farmingville has the potential to be one part of the solution. We deeply thank you for your interest in Farmingville and your work to improve communities.
Catherine and Carlos