Take Action around 'Sin País'
- Research the current status of the DREAM Act and invite your federal legislators to a public forum to explain their support of or opposition to the proposed law. Offer real-life examples such as that of Gilbert to discuss the potential effect of the DREAM Act.
- Create a support network in your community for children like Helen whose parents have been deported. Engage families in brainstorming conversations about what might be most helpful (e.g., supplying phone cards, paying for access to the Internet and Skype-enabled computers, providing travel vouchers or creating a network of volunteer host families).
- Host a town hall meeting to examine why current discussions of immigration policy are so polarized. Use the results of the town hall to build consensus around an approach that would avoid splitting apart families.
- Hold a fundraiser for legal aid service providers in your community who offer help to documented and undocumented immigrants.
- Think about the way the words "illegal" and "undocumented" are used to shape public dialogue about the presence of immigrants in the United States.
Get informed about the issues in the film and lead a discussion in your community.
In contrast to the partisan politics and mainstream media’s “talking point” approach to immigration issues, Sin País (Without Country) tells the emotional story of a deporta- tion’s impact on one family. The film begins two weeks be- fore two teens—Gilbert and Helen—are forcibly separated from their parents.
In 1992, Sam and Elida Mejia left Guatemala during a violent civil war and brought their 1-year-old son, Gilbert, to Califor- nia. The Mejias settled in the Bay Area, and for the past 17 years they have worked multiple jobs to support their fam- ily, paid their taxes and saved enough to buy a home. In Cal- ifornia, they had two more children, Helen and Dulce, who are both U.S. citizens. Two years ago, immigration agents stormed the Mejias’ house looking for someone who didn’t live there. Sam, Elida and Gilbert were all undocumented and became deeply entangled in the U.S. immigration system.
After a passionate fight to keep the family together, Sam and Elida were deported and took Dulce with them back to Guatemala, while Gilbert and Helen remained in the only country they have known as home.
With intimate access and striking imagery, Sin País explores the complexities of the Mejias’ new reality as a separated family—parents without their children, and children without their parents. The film’s short length (20 minutes) makes it an excellent springboard for discussions, not only about immigration policy and the future of families like the Mejias, but also about the nature of American democracy and the practical meaning of the American dream.
In this lesson, students will explore how United States immigration policy affects families with mixed citizenship status. They will first discuss the challenges faced by a mixed-status family when U.S. immigration authorities schedule the undocumented parents to be deported. Students will also explain how the circumstances of such families could impact the United States politically, socially and economically. Finally, they will analyze public policies that address the needs of mixed-status families.
This multi-media resource list, compiled by Gina Blume of Monroe Township Public Library, provides a range of perspectives on the issues raised by the POV documentary Sin País.