Premier of new film at Fairfield University traces the plight of unaccompanied immigrant children

Premier of new film at Fairfield University traces the plight of unaccompanied immigrant children

Image: Posada Posada, a documentary about the plight of detained unaccompanied migrant children and families, will have its premiere at Fairfield University on Monday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. in the Oak Room of the John A. Barone Campus Center at Fairfield University.

"Posada" is directed by Mark McGregor, S.J., assistant professor of film in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts in the College of Arts and Sciences, who followed the stories of three teenage boys, Densi, Johny and Wilber, who left their homes in Central America and crossed the border from Mexico into the United States. The film tells of their detention by immigration officials and their struggle that helped pave the way for others needing assistance. Fr. McGregor says the purpose of the documentary is "to put a human face on immigrants, particularly children, so people will have compassion towards them, regardless of their status."

Yearly since 2000, between 80,000-110,000 children have been arrested and turned away by the U.S. Border patrol. Most children seek to be reunited with their families or to escape threatening hardships in their home countries. The number of children annually detained by the United States has risen from a few thousand in the 1990s to over 7,700 in 2005.

Overall, Fr. McGregor wants the film to be a story of hope. "A border cannot contain and prison walls can't detain hope," he says.

The film uses the holiday tradition of Las Posadas as a backdrop to the immigrants' search for a home and acceptance. Las Posadas, originated in colonial Mexico and celebrated in the United States for many generations, are processions that reenact Joseph and Mary's search for shelter. Beginning on Dec. 16, community processions weave through local streets, stopping at houses seeking help to capture this religious celebration, last December Fr. McGregor brought 10 students from Fairfield's film program to the Dolores Mission Parish in East Los Angeles, a Jesuit parish, and to the U.S. border with Tijuana to help with the production. In addition to Fairfield Media Center, Loyola Productions in Los Angeles contributed to the film's production.

Father McGregor hopes his film will promote the solidarity called for by the Catholic Bishops of Mexico and the United States in "A Journey of Hope," the Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform. The Bishops have written: "Our common faith in Jesus Christ moves us to search for ways that favor a spirit of solidarity. It is a faith that transcends borders and bids us to overcome all forms of discrimination and violence so that we may build relationships that are just and loving."

He also hopes that it helps advocacy efforts on behalf of children, specifically the Unaccompanied Alien Child Protection Act, which is a bill before Congress.

The Humanities Institute of the College of Arts and Sciences at Fairfield is the leading sponsor of the documentary and a co-sponsor of the premier event on Nov. 20. Other sponsors of the film include the Fairfield Jesuit Community and several university programs and offices, friends and benefactors.

Fr. McGregor is one of three Jesuits who are building Fairfield University's exciting new major in New Media: Film, Television and Radio. Introduced last year, the major now has 90 students.

Posted On: 11-09-2006 10:11 AM

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