Koch on Film


By Ed Koch

“Sin Nombre” (+)

This is a very powerful film on the subject of illegal immigrants crossing into the U.S. from the southern border of Texas.  Many of the individuals are Mexicans, but others enter that country from its southern border — seeking to avoid the border patrol and reach the Rio Grande.

  In addition to the efforts of individuals to cross the U.S.-Mexican border, the film also includes a story of gang warfare in Mexico, Central and South America.  The leading gang is called Mara Salvatrucha (or MS-13) which, bizarrely, started in Los Angeles, north of the border.  Its members are primarily Hispanic, and the gang currently exists throughout the U.S.

  Many illegals seek to cross Mexico by riding the freight trains. In the film Mara gang members Willy/Casper (Edgar Flores) and Lil’ Mago (Tenoch Huerta Mejia) board a train planning to steal money from the illegals while they pass through their gang’s territory.  Lil’ Mago tries to rape a young Honduran woman, Sayra (Paulina Gaitan), who is riding on the train with her father hoping to illegally enter the U.S. and join him and his new family in New Jersey.  Willy/Casper murders Lil’ Mago for the attempted rape, and he is soon on the run.  He has committed many terrible acts; but sparks of decency are evidenced in his defense of Sayra and in his seeking to protect an adolescent male, nicknamed Smiley (Kristyan Ferrer), who wanted to join the gang.

As I watched with horror the acts of the gang — which included killing a member of an opposing gang and feeding the body to dogs — I thought of the pressures our country will soon face as a result of the Obama Administration plan (supported by Senator John McCain) to legalize the present 12-20 million illegal aliens now in this country and give them what is referred to as “a path to citizenship.”   I oppose that plan, but do support increasing legal immigration.  In the lead denouncing the opponents of the proposal to provide illegal immigrants with a path to citizenship is The New York Times.   By referring to them as Nativists (an historically anti-immigrant party), it smears those who oppose amnesty as, in effect, fascists.  Some who join them in their support of the plan refer to opponents as racists.  Many of us opposed to legalization and amnesty believe in increasing the number of illegal immigrants by doubling or tripling the current number.  We now take in 750,000 legal immigrants a year plus 250,000 refugees, all of whom are eligible for U.S. citizenship.

  I believe the issue of immigration will be a priority next year in this country, as President Obama tries to deliver on his promise of amnesty.  If you are interested in the issue of immigration, this picture is particularly worth seeing.  All of the performers are brilliant in their roles, and I wouldn’t be surprised if many of them were not professional actors.  (In Spanish, with English subtitles.)