OPPOSING VIEWPOINTS: Analyzing 9500 Liberty
The documentary 9500 Liberty by Annabel Park and Eric Byler told of the inequality that immigrants faced in Prince William County, a small community in Virginia. On October 16, 2007, eight members of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on emergency funding to implement immigration resolution. This new law made it possible for police officers in Prince William County to question anyone they suspected to be in the country illegally based on factors such as their skin color and language. This paper will discuss the different perspectives appearing in the film 9500 Liberty in an effort to evaluate and critic arguments made by both parties in order to analysis the immigration social conflict.
The documentary opens up with an older white man confronting a group of Latinos about their legal status in the country. He accuses the younger Latino children of being gang members and not deserving an education in the United States. His frustration and tension is filmed as he screams at them to learn English, this tension is further demonstrated by the whites towards the Latino community throughout the documentary. The social conflict which erupted on film was partly due to a blogger named Greg Letiecq, who is president of the blog “Help Save Manassas” on BVBL.net. Letiecq, a resident of Prince William County, initiated the movement to have white citizens raise up against undocumented immigrants because he believed that the growing Latino population was causing an “alien invasion” in his county. He adopted the help of the board chairman, Corey Stewart, as his ally to pass the bill that would require police officers to question anyone with probable cause to believe that they are undocumented immigrants with a goal to ultimately deport illegal immigrants from the community. The term ‘probable cause’ stirred up controversy as to what it looks like, is it the color or a person’s skin or the way they talk and when is the line crossed to become racial profiling which would be in violation to our constitution? Stewart argued that when you come to the United States ‘illegally’ you are a criminal, thus telling his community that they are living amongst criminals.
The community became divided racially and economically with members of “Help Save Manassas” on one side and members of “Mexicans without Borders” on the other. Both parties articulated their passionate argument before the final board hearing on October 16, 2007 which lasted over twelve hours. One white woman says, “Don't ever forget 9/11, who is responsible: illegals," which angers the crowd on the opposing side. Greg Letiecq plants fear and resentment in the minds of his followers by making absurd comments such as when he says that the Latino community is linked to the Zapatistas.
Amongst those supporting “Mexicans without Borders” were immigrants who were in the country legally, but who felt the need to protest against the bill. Daniel Fern1ndez, a 12 year old Prince William County resident, tells that although his family is not in danger of being deported he supports his cause because he acknowledges the importance of speaking up for others who are in danger of being deported because he feels that it is not right. Young children such as Daniel were exposed to hate at a time in their lives that they didn’t even know what hate was or meant; this was especially heartbreaking for me. Perhaps the biggest support for the Latinos came from the county’s Chief of Police, Charlie Deane, who argued that the law would cause a culture of fear and division in the county which he did not feel comfortable implementing. Deane also projected that over $14 million would be needed to hire additional officers and retrain officers to correctly implement the new law; this would cause a fifteen cent tax increase. The board passed the law without taking the economic impact into...