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Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Suffolk Life Newspapers SQL - Film Draws Protest

Suffolk Life Newspapers

The film's writer and co-director, Carlos Sandoval, said the beatings and attempted murders of two Mexican day laborers in 2000 were the inspiration for the film. He added that those responsible were not residents of Farmingville.
"I want the film to be a vehicle where people can see both sides," said Sandoval, who is of Latino descent. "Hopefully the film will be the beginning of a dialogue and will help prevent future violence in the community."
During a panel discussion with the directors and some of the people featured in the film, Matilde Parada said she was extremely proud of the film and that it showed the dignity of the workers. "This film is going to educate everybody," said Parada, who came to this country as an illegal immigrant but is now a citizen. "This community needs to learn to be tolerant with the day laborers."
Not everyone agreed with Sandoval's reasoning behind the film. "There have been several failed attempts to accurately depict and understand what is truly happening in Farmingville and in so many other communities in America," said Ray Wysolmierski, spokesperson for the group Sachem Quality of Life. "This video Farmingville, unfortunately, like the inaccurate documentaries preceding it ... are all inspired by one unfortunate event - the horrific beatings of two illegal alien invaders by two low-life white supremacist racists who also invaded the community to wreak havoc ... this community cannot endorse this work as accurately reflecting the plight of Farmingville."
Sue Grant, one of the protesters outside the library, said she was not against immigrants, only illegal immigrants. "It affects our quality of life," she said.
Eduardo Ruelas, who is also featured in the film, through translation by Sandoval, said he immigrated to this country to work hard for his family and educate his son. "My parents taught me to be tolerant ... I want to have that legacy, want to continue it on to those who come here [illegally]." Ruelas explained that while many people believe that the day laborers come here to rob or conquer, that is a lie.
"Everybody should see the film and people that commented about finding solutions should do it," said Christine Harvey, who voluntarily teaches English to day laborers in Farmingville.
On Long Island the film is scheduled to air on June 24 at 8 p.m. on WLIW21.
A day later at the Legislature meeting in Hauppauge numerous pro-immigration groups came to denounce a sense bill sponsored by Legislator Michael Caracciolo (R-Riverhead) requesting that the federal government enforce immigration laws.
"This is a racist, unplanned piece of legislation and I am glad there are a lot of people here to speak against it," said Claudia Ortiz, whose mother and grandparents are immigrants.
Caracciolo unsuccessfully attempted to table the resolution, stating that he wanted the opportunity to bring in those in support of the bill. The bill ultimately failed by a narrow margin, with seven voting for and nine voting against.
"I am an immigrant. I came here at the age of 18," Legislator Elie Mystal (D-Amityville) said. "This bill is hatred."
Jared Feuer, director for the Suffolk Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said by voting down this resolution the Legislature stood for fairness and equality in immigration laws and against fear and xenophobia. "Immigrants from Ireland, from Italy, from Eastern Europe, from China, from Japan - so many of us have a family legacy of overcoming xenophobia ... we must not forget what was overcome and force it on those who, simply at this time of history, are in the position of recent immigrants."
Caracciolo said the controversial legislation "had nothing to do with trying to polarize any type of residents or non-residents of the United States." He added that the local economy has a myriad of contractors who employ day laborers and exploit them. "These individuals are not paying taxes and breaking the law," he said. "What Americans would not want to keep every dollar that they earn?"
According to the American Immigration Lawyers Association, all individuals who work in the United States are required to pay federal taxes. They also state that immigrant households paid an estimated $133 billion in direct taxes to federal, state and local governments in 1997. Feuer added that the average illegal immigrant pays $1,800 per year more in taxes than they receive in benefits.
"This legislation basically makes an inaccurate point that immigrants place a greater burden on the economy," Feuer said. He added that there is a need for more comprehensive reform to the nation's current immigration laws.
"It is a resolution that is just going to stir controversy. Everyone in the country knows that these laws need to be changed," said Legislator Paul Tonna (R-Deer Park), who was also on the panel at the screening of the movie Farmingville the previous day. "This is a symbolic message of nonacceptance.
"Just because there is a law on the books, does not make it right," Tonna continued.
Legislator Vivian Viloria-Fisher (D-East Setauket) added that the county does not need this type of negative legislation.
Caracciolo said he has reintroduced the legislation.

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