Film: 9500 Liberty

A Virginia county’s battle over random immigration status checks.

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In July 2007, the board of supervisors of Prince William County, Virginia, passed a resolution that allowed police to check the immigration status of anyone they suspected of being undocumented. 9500 Liberty chronicles the ensuing battle between the county’s sizable Hispanic population and folks like the founder of the group Help Save Manassas, who casually compares immigrants to invading Huns. Drawn from footage that filmmakers Annabel Park and Eric Byler shot and posted in real time on YouTube, this moving film (named after the location of anti-racist murals) follows how this local controversy turned into a national Rorschach test for attitudes about immigration reform and race.

The film’s climax comes during a showdown at a 13-hour county meeting. White supporters of the resolution rail against crowded neighborhoods and soaring crime rates, and urge everyone, “Don’t ever forget 9/11.” Opponents, including the white police chief, argue that immigrants are vital, taxpaying members of the community. “Don’t confuse 9/11 with the 7-Eleven,” says one speaker. “The guys at the 7-Eleven just want to work.” After several months, the resolution was repealed, but Prince William’s immigrants had already gotten the message: Toward the end of the film we see empty storefronts and abandoned homes in what were once vibrant neighborhoods.

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Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

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