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Focus on Illegal Immigration

18 Apr, 2006 By: Thomas K. Arnold

In the midst of mass demonstrations over immigration reform, Genius Products is rushing to DVD a controversial documentary about the cultural clashes in the border community known as the birthplace of the Minuteman Project.

Cochise County, USA: Cries from the Border ($19.98) will be released on DVD May 2, timed to coincide with the national immigration boycott the day before. The 69-minute documentary explores the real-life impact of illegal immigration through interviews with residents, elected officials, activists on both sides of the issue and even migrants themselves. It was one of only 25 films selected for the Liberty Film Festival in October 2005 from submissions from throughout the world.

“When we moved to Cochise County, Ariz., I became personally and keenly aware of the tremendous problems posed by the influx of people crossing our country from over the border,” said filmmaker Mercedes Maharis, who wrote, directed and produced the documentary.

“I could see the drug drops and the people smugglers from our front window. I felt compelled to tell the rest of the country what it is like to suffer from the social, economic and environmental impact of illegal immigration on Cochise County.”

Cochise County is the birthplace of the Minuteman Project, an anti-illegal-immigration group that has won favor with far-right lawmakers and citizens who prefer stricter immigration laws and enforcement. On the other side of the spectrum are the Border Action Network and Citizens for Border Solutions.

“So, we live in a divided community,” Maharis said. “Our country and our world are now aware of the immigration crisis, but solutions remain elusive. Hopefully my film will be a force that will keep the spotlight on the border.”

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