US Immigration - General Works: Resources in the Media Resources Center, UC Berkeley

US Immigration - General Works











The following are general and overview works dealing with immigration to the United States within the last half century. For current and historical works about specific immigrant/ethnic groups see listings for particular ethnic/national groups in MRC ethnic studies videographies.

Abandoned: The Betrayal of America's Immigrants
Looks at the most recent wave of anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States and at the personal impact of new immigration laws, focusing on the severity of current detention and deportation policies. Legal residents find themselves torn away from their American families and sent to countries they barely know while political asylum seekers are kept for years in county jails that profit from their incarceration. Directed by David Belle and Nicholas Wrathall. 2000. 55 min. DVD 6747; vhs Video/C 7695
© notice

View this video online
UC Berkeley users only - Requires Windows Media Player or Flip4Mac

Description from Bullfrog Films catalog

America Becoming.
Discusses the history of emigration and immigration in the United States during the 20th century. 1990?. 93 min. Video/C 2329

ABC-CLIO Video Rating Guide for Libraries

America: Life, Liberty and...( 90's home video collection 5.)
The television series looks at "people, places and ideas from around the world...fast-paced, entertaining, irreverent, funny and thought-provoking reports from the creative edge of the video age". This segment "presents dozens of views of America: the immigrant experience and the American dream - what we think of ourselves, and what others think of us". Contents: Waiting for the American dream ; Todd Alcott ; Legal services strike / by Skip Blumberg -- Sylvie ; Alexander Kosolapov / by Esti Galili Marpet -- Foreign press center ; Willis Conover / by Eddie Becker -- Peter Schwartz / by Starr Sutherland -- Tarzan Anderson / by Jim Mulryan -- Laura Flanders / by Rosalyn Baronio -- Haiti / by Ludger Balant -- Joe Begley / by Mimi Pickering and Appalshop -- Vietnamese in America / by Fred Bridges -- Preparing for citizenship / home video by Federal International Services, Inc. 60 min. DVD X1373; Video/C 2203

America's Immigration Debate.
Examines the pro and con views of the American immigration debate. Studies the isolation of ethnic communities, the shifting of racial definitions, and America's lack of an infrastructure to support immigrant integration. 2005. 26 min. DVD 4306

And the Pursuit of Happiness
In 1986, Louis Malle, himself a transplant to the United States, set out to investigate the ever widening range of immigrant experience in America. Interviewing a variety of newcomers (from teachers to astronauts to doctors) in middle- and working-class communities from coast to coast, Malle paints a generous, humane portrait of their individual struggles in an increasingly polyglot nation. A film by Louis Malle. 1986. 81 min. DVD 7515

Becoming Bilingual.
A 2-part documentary providing an in-depth view of working programs of bilingual education at both the elementary and high school levels. c1989.

Becoming Bilingual: Part 1, Ambos a Dos. Follows a third-grade student from Puerto Rico through her first year at a bilingual school in East Harlem. The film focuses on her progress presenting a variety of classroom scenes from ESL to computer lab, interwoven with sequences showing the student in her home and community. c1989. 35 min. Video/C 7908

Becoming Bilingual: Part 2, Newtown High. Profiles students at Newtown High School with students speaking some 50 languages. The film focuses on accounts by students from China, Cuba, Korea, Afghanistan, and other countries. Many of these students arrive with strong educational backgrounds from their native country, but without the high school's extensive bilingual classes aimed to guide students into mainstream English classes as soon as possible, their participation at appropriate levels of subject studies would be impossible. c1989. 45 min. Video/C 7909

The Closing Door: An Investigation of Immigration Policy.
Presents an investigation of current United States policy on immigration in light of past history. Includes consideration of both legal and illegal immigration. 1983. 58 min. Video/C 983

Dying to Leave
Explores the current worldwide boom in illicit migration. Every year, an estimated two to four million people are shipped in containers, shepherded through sewage pipes, secreted in car chassis, and ferried across frigid waters. Others travel on legitimate carriers but with forged documents. An alarming number of these migrants end up in bondage, forced to work as prostitutes, thieves, or as laborers in sweatshops. By listening to the voices of those who pulled up their roots, who risked all, this documentary puts a human face on what might otherwise be seen as statistical, overwhelming and remote. Focusing on five major stories whose journeys traverse 16 countries from Colombia to China, from Mexico to Moldova this film looks into the circumstances that drove these migrants from their homes, describes the difficulties involved in their epic journeys and reveals what awaits them in their new world. Written and directed by Aaron Woolf and Chris Hilton. Originally produced in 2003 as part of Wide angle television program. Dist.: Films Media Group. 120 min. DVD 8537

Ellis Island
Immigrants of every ethnic background recall their extraordinary adventures, historians explore the sometimes insensitive national policies, and the Ellis Island Oral History Project reveals what the immigration experience was actually like. Features rare photographs and film. Narrated by Mandy Patinkin. 1997. 3 videocassettes, 50 min. ea. Video/C 4757

Ellis Island
A film by Meredith Monk. The visual images of this film, basically without dialogue, become a poetic evocation of the immigrants and the ordeals they faced while waiting at Ellis Island to enter the United States at the beginning of the century. 1982. 28 min. Video/C 3397

Fear and Learning at Hoover Elementary.
A documentary by Los Angeles teacher Laura Angelica Simon, exploring the impact of California's Proposition 187 on the immigrant community. The subject is Hoover Street Elementary School, where Simon candidly explores the attitudes and emotions of teachers, students and parents, focusing on a ten year old Salvadorian girl. 1997. 53 min. Video/C 5246

Forgotten Ellis Island: The Extraordinary Story of America's Immigrant Hospital
In the era before antibiotics, tens of thousands of immigrant patients were separated from family, detained in the hospital on Ellis Island, and healed from illness before becoming citizens. Those deemed too feeble of mind or body were deported. 350 babies were born in the hospital but ten times that many immigrants died on Ellis Island and were buried in pauper's graves around New York City. Written & directed by Lorie Conway. 2008. 57 min. DVD X1380

Home is Struggle (Historias Paralelas).
Film explores the lives of women who have immigrated to the United States from different Latin American countries for very different reasons, economic and political. In sharing their stories they present an absorbing picture of the construction of Latina identity and the immigrant experience. 1991. 37 min. Video/C 3354

The Huddled Masses(America; 9)
Alistair Cooke visits ships' holds, Ellis Island, and the Lower East Side garment factory sweat shops in order to depict turn-of-the-century immigration. Uses old photographs of the poor immigrants in contrast with oil portraits of tycoons who became rich at their expense. 1988. 52 min. Video/C 1423

Illegal Aliens Entering the U.S.: September 8, 1986 (Nightline)
Surveys efforts by the U.S. Border Patrol to locate and apprehend illegal Mexican aliens and the economic impact, particularly on California and Texas, of illegal aliens whose children born in the United States are eligible for public assistance. c1986. 23 min. Video/C 5776

Immigrant Stories of Franklin High.
Teenage immigrant students from around the world who are enrolled in ESL classes at Franklin High School in Seattle Washington, speak candidly about their experiences assimilating into American high school culture. 2000. 28 min. Video/C 7907

Immigration Backlash
Since most Americans are descended from immigrants who came to this country in search of a better life, how can Americans argue against immigration? But people are angry, claiming that immigrants, legal and illegal, are putting Americans out of work. The number of immigrants in the 1980s -- about nine million -- is roughly the same as the number of Americans that are unemployed today. 1994. 28 min. Video/C 5499

Immigrant Nation!
A documentary combining the story of activist Elvira Arellano with the larger story of the pro-immigrant movement that primarily began in Chicago. Relates how Arellano fought against her deportation with help from organizations, activists, community leaders and individuals who came together to oppose bill HR4437 and the anti-immigration forces. Directed and produced by Esaú Meléndez. c2010. 96 min. DVD X6441

Immigration: Who Has Access to the American Dream?
Examines the hard-core questions surrounding current U.S. immigration. How many should we allow in? Who, if anyone, should receive preferential treatment? How should illegal immigration be handled? All of the issues are examined through the eyes of those seeking entry, and the organizations assisting them. Those interviewed include an immigration judge, an immigrant from Kenya, and the owner of a New York City deli from Korea. c1997. 29 min. Video/C 5604

Island of Hope, Island of Tears.
From 1892 to 1943 Ellis Island was used as an immigration reception and processing center. During this period approximately 12 million immigrants passed through its halls either to begin a new life in the United States or to be deported back to their mother country because they lacked some entrance requirement. This is their story. 1990. 28 min. Video/C 2313

Last Best Chance: Story Twelve
Spring, 2007: This year, immigration advocates and grassroots expect great things. But Senator Ted Kennedy has lost his partner McCain to presidential primaries, and the Republicans now put a very different offer on the table. This documentary follows Kennedy's work in one of his major legislative battles over immigration reform. One of the handful of people who through his personal efforts have truly changed the face of America, will be forced to decide--how much does he want this deal, and what is he willing to trade for his greatest legacy? A series by Shari Robertson and Michael Camerini. 2007. 101 min. DVD X5743

The Least of These
Takes a penetrating look at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, a former medium-security prison that re-opened in 2006 as a prototype family detention center. The facility was to house immigrant children and their parents from around the world who were awaiting asylum hearings or deportation proceedings. As information about troubling conditions at the facility began to leak out, activist attorneys sought to investigate and address the issues. In telling the story of their quest, the film explores the role (and limits) of community and legal activism in bringing about change. Directors, Clark Lyda and Jesse Lyda. Special features (68 min.): trailer (2 min.); "Restore fairness : bring back due process to the immigration system" short film (9 min.); Center for American Progress "Reel progress" interview (5 min.); SXSW 2009 Q&A excerpts (13 min.); SXSW 2009 panel discussion (5 min.); NY International Latino Film Festival Q&A excerpts (7 min.); 4 deleted/extended scenes (18 min. total); epilogue (9 min.). 61 min. 2009. DVD X2667

Lost in Detention: President Obama's Tough Immigration Enforcement
More than one million immigrants have been deported since President Obama took office. Deportations and detentions have reached record levels. The get-tough policy has brought complaints of abuse and harsh treatment. This documentary investigates Obama's enforcement strategies and journeys into the secretive world of immigrant detention, with a penetrating look at who is being detained and what is happening to them. Written and directed by Rick Young. Originally broadcast as an episode of Frontline October 18, 2011. 60 min. DVD X6873

Nation of Immigrants.(Destination America; 9)
The great immigration from Europe ended in the 1920s. Today these descendants of the immigrants are trying to rediscover their heritage. In this film children of older, European-based immigrant families discuss with children of newer black, Puerto Rican, and Oriental groups the similarities and differences in the immigration experience then and now. Focuses on how the older immigrants began to consider the newer ones a threat; shows extremist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. 1992. 52 min. Video/C 2644

The New Americans
A 3 part television documentary telling the powerful stories of the journeys of five families from their homes in the Dominican Republic, Nigeria, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Mexico and India to new lives in the United States. Directors (Dominican story), Susana Aikin, Carlos Aparicio ; directors (Palestinian story), Jerry Blumental, Gordon Quinn; director (Nigerian story), Steve James. c2002.

Episode 1: In Episode 1, refugees Israel and Ngozi Nwidor flee violence in Nigeria, hoping for a fresh start in Chicago. Dominican baseball prospects Ricardo Rodriguez and Jose Garcia travel from Santo Domingo to spring training in Florida. Young Palestinian Naima is engaged to an American and gets an opportunity to leave the West Bank to pursue a new life and career in America. 115 min. DVD X1125; Video/C MM313

Episode 2: In Episode 2, Naima marries her Palestinian-American fiance and struggles with homesickness. Nigerian refugees Israel and Ngozi Nwidor deal with low-paying jobs and the imminent arrival of their first American baby. Barine Wiwa-Lawani tries to gain a foothold in Chicago, even though political upheaval in Nigeria draws her back home. And the Mexican Flores family attempt to reunite in Kansas after thirteen years of being forced to live apart. DVD X1125; Video/C MM314

Episode 3: In Episode 3, East Indians Anjan and Harshini Bacchu weather the highs and lows of Silicon Valley's dot.com boom and bust. The second Palestinian Intifada and Sept. 11th profoundly impact Naima in America. The Flores famiy discovers that their long journey from Mexico to Kansas will not be their last. Israel and Ngozi face the most serious tests yet to their dreams in America, while Barine comes within reach of her own American dream. And Dominican baseball players Ricardo and Jose are at career crossroads: Will they make it to the major leagues or not? DVD X1125; Video/C MM315

Kemmitt, Alicia. "Documentary Stories for Change: Viewing and Producing Immigrant Narratives as Social Documents." Velvet Light Trap: A Critical Journal of Film & Television; Fall2007, Issue 60, p25-36, 12p UC users only

The New Majority: Beyond the Melting Pot; a report on California's cultural and racial demographics and how they affect our society.
Part of the UC Berkeley Open Window Series. California's cultural and racial demographics - by K. Russell -- Diversity: Changing the face of politics; election reapportionment - by T. Mock -- Hate crimes - by K. Debro -- Labor unions and the new immigrants - by H. Frieze -- University of California, Berkeley: Multicultural education - by W. Lasola -- The arts - by H. Norman -- English only initiative - by J. McKelvey -- The lives of immigrants - by B. Pimentel -- A look at immigration policy - by F. Langner. © UC Regents. Video/C 2010

View this video online
UC Berkeley users only - Requires Windows Media Player or Flip4Mac

New Pilgrims.
News report which examines the nationality and origins of the latest wave of U.S. immigrants. Interviews with new U.S. families from Central America, Mexico, Vietnam, Korea, and the Philippines reveal how the "new pilgrims" are adjusting to life in the U.S. Also examined is the tremendous effect immigrants are having on the labor force because of their cheap labor and desire to succeed. 1985. 25 min. 3/4" UMATIC Video/C 877

New York, A Documentary Film. Episode Four, The Power and the People.
Covers the years from 1898 through 1918 showing how New York's industry drew in people from all over the world, and how these immigrants transformed the city physically, culturally and finally politically. Looks also at the construction of the subway system, Penn Station, Grand Central Terminal and the skyscrapers on Wall Street. The episode ends with the tragedy of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and the reform legislation passed in its aftermath. Directed by Ric Burns. 1999. 120 min. DVD 3767; also VHS Video/C 6653

New York: The World's City.
To describe New York City's cultural makeup, the best metaphor is a salad bowl rather than a melting pot. This program follows the Queens #7 subway line through a dazzling array of ethnic communities, each with its own distinct texture and flavor, illustrating demographic changes the city has undergone since the early 1990s. Less inclined to learn English and join mainstream society than previous immigrant generations, recently arrived New Yorkers are nevertheless part of a long-established pattern--which former Senator Bill Bradley (D-NJ) praises, while New York State Senator Frank Padavan discusses fears that some conservative citizens harbor. 2005. 26 min. DVD 4301

The Nine Nations of North America.
This episode concentrates on MexAmerica, defined as the area between Los Angeles, CA--Houston, TX and Pueblo, CO--San Luis Potosi, Mexico. This region is not limited by political boundaries, but is rather a state of mind which is defined by power, water, money, and immigration. Through conversations with European Americans, Mexican Americans, and Asian Americans one tries to sketch the characteristics of this particular nation in North America. c1987. Video/C 1328

No Time to Stop: Stories of Immigrant and Visible Minority Women.
Features three immigrant women in Canada from Hong Kong, Ghana and Jamaica respectively. They talk about the circumstances that shape their lives and how their dreams are marred by hardship, sexism and racism. They personalize the complex issues facing immigrant women who are forced to take low-paying, low-status jobs in Canada. 1990. 30 min. Video/C 3344

Papers: Stories of Undocumented Youth
12 million undocumented immigrants live in the United States. 2 million of them are children. This film is about people who did not decide to become illegal immigrants. Their parents made that choice for them. Although born outside the U.S., these young people were raised in this country, educated in American schools, hold American values, know only the U.S. as home and who, upon high school graduation find the door to their future slammed shut. 65,000 undocumented students graduate every year from high school without "papers." It is against the law for them to work or drive. It is difficult, if not impossible in some states, to attend college. They live at risk of arrest, detention, and deportation to countries they may not even remember. Currently, there is no path to citizenship for these young people. Directed by Anne Galisky. 2010. 88 min. DVD X5116

Prejudice: More Than Black & White
Muslims, blacks, gays, people with disabilities, and immigrants of every ethnicity and color: they and many other groups have stood in the spotlight glare of intolerance, easy targets for every sort of discrimination and violence. What makes people prone to irrational hate, and what steps can individuals and society take to eradicate it? In this program, psychology professors Susan Fiske and Mahzarin Banaji share their insights and experiences. A pro-gay Baptist minister who formerly took a biblical stance against homosexuality and an ex-imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan who now speaks out for tolerance also offer their views. Contents: Defining prejudice -- Religious & ethnic prejudice -- Prejudice : a brief history -- The Roots of prejudice -- Implicit prejudice : taking the test -- Embracing tolerance : a case study -- Creating change : a reason of hope. Dist.: Films Media Group. 2008. DVD X5136

[Savio, Mario] ACLU Sonoma County Chapter Meeting, 2/24/95
Mario Savio presents the keynote address at a meeting of members of the Sonoma County Chapter of the ACLU about political trends in California (circa. 1995) concerning resistance to anti-immigrant legislation and the gutting of affirmative action programs. Recorded on February 24, 1995 at an ACLU of Sonoma County dinner in Sebastapol, California. DVD X1355; vhs Video/C MM1232

The 7 Train: An Immigrant Journey
Each day 500,000 people from 117 different countries ride the bright red #7 subway train that runs from Flushing to Times Square, going through Queens, the most ethnically diverse region in the United States. Here are a few of the passengers. 1999. 29 min. Video/C 6644

Stories of Change.
Film profiles four ethnically diverse women - Hispanic, Caucasian, Vietnamese and African-American - who surmount the trauma of deep personal loss and emerge with confidence, strength, and a renewed sense of purpose. These portraits explore the issues of alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence, death and grieving, as well as problems faced by refugees and immigrants. 1991. 58 min. Video/C 2860

Taking Root (Echando raices)
Two identical one hour films (one in English, one in Spanish) discussing the factors that bring immigrants to the U.S., beliefs and assumptions about immigrants, the systematic exploitation of immigrants, and what people can do to collectively work for social justice. Created as a resource for education and organizing, the film shares stories from some of the immigrant community organizations that work in partnership with the American Friends Service Committee. c2002. 60 min. each Video/C MM1106

Uprooted: Refugees of the Global Economy
Presents three stories of immigrants who left their homes in Bolivia, Haiti and the Philippines after global economic powers devastated their countries, only to face new challenges in the United States. These powerful stories raise critical questions about U.S. immigration policy in an era when corporations cross borders at will. 2001. 28 min. Video/C 8921

Voices in Exile: Immigrants and the First Amendment
Examines the question of to what extent aliens are protected by First Amendments rights. Follows the case of eight Palestinian immigrants in Los Angeles who were arrested for distributing PLO literature. The case involved the FBI, the INS, and the ACLU. 1998. 30 min. Video/C 6554

Wanting It All
Examines the rapid growth in both legal and illegal immigration to the U.S. Through interviews with a variety of immigrants -- Mexicans, Russians, Japanese, Armenians, and Vietnamese -- reveals their hopes and dreams and their expectations from life in America. Argues that today's wave of immigrants is shaping a new country, full of promise for some and peril for others. 1987. 22 min. Video/C MM724

Well-founded Fear
A behind the scenes documentary of the experiences of applicants and personnel at the Asylum Office at the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, where American ideals about human rights collide with the nearly impossible task of trying to learn the truth from asylum-seekers. This film marks the first time a film crew has been privy to asylum proceedings resulting in a stirring, evocative and utterly unforgettable documentary about the American political asylum system. Broadcast on PBS on June 5, 2000 as a segment of Point of View. 119 min. DVD 7564; vhs Video/C 7297

To the top



Copyright (C) 1996 by the Library, University of California, Berkeley. All rights reserved.
Document maintained on server: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/ by
Gary Handman, Head, Media Resources Center.
Last update 02/09/12 [gh]

MRC web graphics by Mary Scott, Graphics Office, The Teaching Library