immigration reform

Before I start, I’m gonna check my privilege as a US citizen.

But this isn’t about me as a US citizen, this is about mixed status families. this is about the reality that for some of us, being together isn’t a right anymore, papeles or not. there won’t be a time where my mother, my father, my sisters and me will find ourselves together in a room - my papeles won’t give us that luxury. My papeles give me the privilege to see my mother three times a year, but never with my father, never with my sisters - this is what a mixed status family looks like, always in pieces, always in parts.

Mixed status families look like a cold winter with only one cobija and the inability to share, not because you don’t want to, but because the government doesn’t let you, because the government hasn’t felt cold before.

Mixed status families look like only one of you getting to meet your grandma before she passes, because papeles can’t stop time, can’t stop our loved ones from growing, can’t stop them from leaving to find peace on a side where borders don’t exist.

Mixed status families look like fear, for all of us, all the time.

Mixed status families look like papi hoping mami comes home, mami hoping papi will come home, sisters hoping they’ll know what home looks like, they were too young to know, dreaming of a land where survival was accesible.

Mixed status families is never truly feeling whole, never truly feeling complete, because a part of you, is always…missing.

—  Mixed Status Families

“Oscar” Academy Award Statue Modeled After Undocumented Immigrant Emilio “El Indio” Fernandez

At the Academy Awards, the Oscar statuette is as iconic as the gowns and the red carpet. With his square shoulders, tapered legs, and strong features, Oscar looks like an art deco god. But, as familiar as he may be, it turns out we don’t know Oscar very well. 

For one, Oscar’s name isn’t Oscar.

Those broad shoulders belonged to Emilio Fernandez — a.k.a. “El Indio.” He was an actor in dozens of Hollywood films, one of Mexico’s greatest directors. Fernandez worked on Night of the Iguana, acted in The Wild Bunch, and directed dozens of films. But his own life was the real adventure movie.

Fernandez was born in Coahuila, Mexico in 1904. His father was a soldier, his mother a Kickapoo Indian. He grew up during the bloody revolution of 1910-17, was a teenager when Pancho Villa was killed, and dropped out of high school in the fall of 1923 to become an officer for the Huertista rebels. The following spring, after the rebellion was quashed, Fernandez was captured and sentenced to 20 years in prison. He escaped soon after (thanks to some dynamite) and crossed the border to Los Angeles, where he lived in exile for the next decade.

It was there, while working as a bus boy, that Fernandez got his break in the movie business. Some crew from The Thief of Baghdad were eating lunch at his restaurant and, desperate to come up with an opening sequence, pulled Fernandez over. He offered a simple idea, they took it, and the next day, the studio sent Fernandez a new Ford. His career in Hollywood had begun.

But Fernandez owes his tribute in gold to the silent film star Dolores Del Rio. She was his muse, his unrequited love… and MGM Art Director Cedric Gibbons’ wife. In 1927, shortly after the Academy was founded, Gibbons was tasked with designing an award statuette. He’d sketched a figure of a knight holding a sword and standing on a reel of film. He was looking for a suitable life model and Del Rio suggested that Fernandez would be perfect. She asked, he agreed. He stood for hours in the nude while they shaped the statue. And the rest, as they say…

The very first Oscar was handed out on May 16, 1929. In the years that followed, Emilio Fernandez received amnesty for his role in the Huertista rebellion and returned to Mexico to direct films. In all, he directed over 40 movies. His most famous, Maria Candelaria, won the Grand Prix at the 1946 Cannes Film Festival. He died in 1986.

And no, he never did win an Oscar. Or, perhaps we should say, an Emilio.

vimeo

Uncovering Our Stories: Maya

Sam Vale stands by the Starr-Camargo International Bridge. Vale and his family own the bridge; it was built by his father in 1965 and is now leased to the US government. The wealthy Texas businessman says he’s met with Texas Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn and told them that there needs to be comprehensive immigration reform. A wall, he says, without giving people a way to work legally in the United States, won’t work. 


“US corporations, people’s homes, individual contractors, the entire country is hiring them (people coming in illegally). They are not here because they’re not giving jobs…clearly, if nobody’s getting a job, that word gets out pretty fast. So somebody is violating the law in the United States FIRST by giving them a job. That’s illegal. Why they would sit there and chastise an ambitious young Mexican who wants to get a job, when it’s the American guy who says ‘I need you.’ I have relatives in the Northern part of Texas who say, 'I don’t know what we would do if we didn’t have the Mexican work force coming up here… We can’t get anybody to go do the work that we need done on our farms and ranches today.’ “ 

-Lulu 

(Photo: NPR/ Samantha Balaban)