It was three years ago when journalist Jose Antonio Vargas publicly admitted he was an undocumented immigrant in a New York Times essay; such a bold act not only won him praise for his courage, but also made Vargas the most prominent face of the immigration movement and strengthened his efforts to raise discussion on the issue. Yet Vargas' struggle hasn't relented since then; he narrowly missed the age requirement to qualify for the DREAM act's worker relief. He was also arrested by immigration services while trying to board a plane out of Texas (although he was released in a matter of hours).
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Vargas has gone on to write more thoroughly on his immigration status, while also making a film that presents this story. Documented: A Film by an Undocumented American depicts Vargas' life, from when he came to America at age 12 to his conscious efforts to bring immigration reform as an adult, and his life since making his immigration status public. Documented will screen for one night only at the Frida cinema this Thursday to support Chican@s Unidos OC.
Documented is an unflinching study of all different sides of the immigration reform debate. Footage of Mitt Romney and Vargas' Colbert Report appearance may make the film seem a little dated, but it's still as relevant as ever, considering the current administration's backpedaling on the issue, the vast influx of minors crossing the border by themselves, and the DREAMers' rallies protesting deportations. That Vargas presents his own origin story helps to personalize his film, and provides a presence that helps the viewer understand the urgency in his efforts. Chican@s Unidos, the group presenting and benefiting from this screening, is Orange County's grassroots Chicano organization whose mission, according to their website, is to "achieve community self-determinism in Orange County, by promoting Chican@ Mexican@ Indigenous pride while maintaining a gender-balanced and working-people perspective in interpreting and documenting our history, while developing proactive solutions." For those who wish to contribute to CU will have the opportunity by buying their handmade masks outside of the theater; proceeds will go towards CU's student scholarships.