Destination America - On rafts...across the Rio Grande, jammed in boats, cars, and vans...‘they come to America’

By Fred Elbel
Volume 23, Number 1 (Fall 2012)
Issue theme: "Victims of Immigration"

Film review:

They Come to America —
The Cost of Illegal Immigration
video documentary (90 minutes)
directed by Dennis Michael Lynch
DVD: three for $19.99

"Isn’t the goal to make this the best country in the world?”

The film They Come to America implicitly asks this pertinent question. The answer, obfuscated by politics and special interests, is no longer clear.

In Southampton, New York, a solitary protester stands against a crowd of illegal aliens across the street soliciting day work. His position is emphatic: illegal aliens should go home and let Americans get back to work. Another contractor counters, “It’s the American guy who doesn’t want to work for that little amount of money.”

And therein lies the conundrum. As Dennis Michael Lynch, producer of They Come to America, remarks, “The system must be really broken because both of these guys make sense.”

Lynch, while listening to Neil Diamond’s “Coming to America,” had an epiphany upon encountering this lone representative of America. He stopped his car, got out his camera, and commenced shooting what was to become a superb documentary.

He reflects, “I think it’s very, very important to understand what immigration was in this country years ago to truly appreciate whether or not we have lost what it was that we once integrated as a country.” The film appropriately presents both sides of the issue in order to further this understanding.

In Florida, retired journalist John Roland states, “I feel like I moved to Latin America. There are hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants living here, and it’s a huge drain on the economy. Unless you speak Spanish in this area, you are screwed. The way Miami is today is the way our country is going to be tomorrow.”

A Florida real estate agent then reports that “Investors from Equador, Columbia, and Brazil are purchasing every commercial real estate [they can] and are renting to low income people. The biggest companies like Coldwell Banker and Century 21 have to make all the forms in Spanish so they can understand.”

Most people generally believe that we have the strength and resources to handle the numbers of immigrants and illegal aliens who are here today. Yet Roy Beck, President of, observes, “What they don’t think about is that’s what you would have if you stopped all illegal immigration right now. We’re heading for something else — we’re adding another 60 million people over the next 20 years. That’s where we lack political leaders with political vision.”

The film includes an excerpt of Beck’s video presentation, where he explains that with Census Bureau projections of fertility and mortality, a fifth 100 million will be added to the U.S. in 2070 and a sixth 100 million will be added just before the turn of the century. “Look around you,” he says. “The people of the United States are not able to achieve the quality of life they want with 300 million people. This is something that will be if we don’t change the immigration numbers.”

Politics as usual prevents us from changing. Both political parties focus on short-term agendas driven by special interests while suffering from voluntary myopia regarding the long-term consequences of mass immigration.

The incestuous relationship between illegal immigration and politics is clearly explained by Beck, who states that, “Historically, in this country, the Democratic party has been the party that’s been more interested in redistribution, which means more government, more programs. Since immigrants arrive predominantly poor, immigrants, no matter where they come from, have voted predominantly for the Democratic parry. So [with] high immigration and giving amnesty to illegal aliens — Democrats see this almost as a voter registration program.”

He continues, “And Republicans, they look at the campaign contributions that come from the really wealthy business groups and business people — who themselves make a lot of money off driving down the wages of Americans as well as providing cheap labor. It is not just that they get foreign workers cheaper, but the foreign workers enable the businesses to pay their American workers less.”

The film exposes politicians at rallies artfully dodging Lynch’s immigration questions. He remarks, “I was so disappointed and so saddened at how these politicians run from the topic. Democrats and Republicans are both 110 percent guilty.”

Revealing the more personal aspect of illegal immigration, Lynch interviews an Ecuadorian worker who sends money home. He wants to save $60,000 to buy a home and start a taxi business — in Ecuador. He says he’ll be “good forever.” He doesn’t want to ever come back, although when asked if he feels bad about taking jobs from Americans, he responds, “Yes, I do.”

This is a real eye-opener — many interlopers are here only to make a quick buck and return to their home countries. They have no intention of living here on a permanent basis. They come to America, but they do not want to become Americans.

Driving through Queens, New York, retired INS agent Mike Cutler observes streets where literally every other storefront is a travel agency or wire transfer agency. “This is the drain through which American money vanishes out of the economy,” he quips.

The film touches on the impact of immigration on health care, where hospitals have been driven to close, and on education. Jack Martin of Federation for American Immigration Reform reports that the aggregate fiscal impact of immigration is $113 billion per year. A whopping 75 percent of this cost is for educational expense.

What can be done to solve the problem? Martin replies, “The single greatest step that the United States could take to counter illegal immigration would be to get control over jobs and deny jobs to people who are in the country illegally. Because when that word goes out that they’re not going to be able to find a job in the U.S. if you come to the country illegally, people won’t come.” Thus the highly effective E-Verify program is opposed by mainstream immigration advocacy groups. Lynch approached numerous groups who flatly refused to appear on camera to discuss the program.

In order to explore the personal side of the issue, Lynch sought out individual illegal aliens to interview. Mauricio lives in a one-room house with his wife and baby and seven other men, for $800 per month. As Lynch interviews Mauricio, they become friends and Lynch considers offering him a place to stay. Ironically, Cutler cautions against this, pointing out that harboring illegal aliens is a crime and that MS13 gang members can be found taking innocuous day jobs while brazenly participating in gang activity at night.

Lynch was personally at Ground Zero, running from the collapsing towers on 9/11, thereby acquiring a very unique perspective of the tragedy. So he decided to go to the U.S. border in southern Arizona to witness the situation first-hand. “We stayed right outside the drug cartels where guys were up in trees with machine guns,” he reports. “There is a sense that anything at any moment can and will go wrong when you are down at the border.”

The film aptly notes that human smuggling and drug smuggling have merged — drug cartels now rake in immense profits from both activities. Local resident Glenn Spencer points to drug cartel headquarters directly across the border, saying, “You go near there, you’re dead.”

Local ranchers are left to fight on the front lines of our censored border war. While the Border Patrol visibly enforces areas near border towns with strong fencing, local rancher John Ladd states that there are no agents in locations with inadequate fencing. He says, “It’s past being a joke — it’s deliberate.” Lynch reflects, “We can’t have ranchers defending America’s border. Yet they live life like that every day — every single day.”

The film reveals that recently the Government Accountability Office completed a full assessment of border checkpoints. It found that the Border Patrol overstates performance levels at checkpoints and that 70 percent of illegal crossings remain undetected. Yet near Yuma, where the Department of Homeland Security put up a double fence with hardpan road between the two fences, illegal crossings were reduced by nearly 75 percent.

Lynch asks Mauricio — the illegal alien he befriended in the film — how many people he thought would have got across if there was a 2,000 mile long “big fence.” The answer was a stunning “like, five.”

Cochise County, Arizona Sheriff Larry Dever emphasizes that “Clearly our federal government has a Constitutional responsibility to defend our homeland and protect it against incursion of any kind. It has failed to do that. When the Minutemen were here in 2005 on this stretch of the border, there was not a single illegal crossing. It can be done.”

The film They Come to America was shot on location in Arizona, Illinois, Florida, D.C., New York, and Colorado. The videography and editing are both excellent; this superb and immensely relevant documentary immerses the viewer in multiple aspects of the illegal immigration dilemma.

Perhaps because of the political significance of the subject matter, this important film has been virtually banned from public viewing. It has been rejected by 26 film festivals, including the renowned Sundance film festival. In May, 2012, the digital distributor suddenly pulled out with no explanation, deliberately leaving inadequate time to secure another service to distribute the film via iTunes and Cable view-on-demand prior to the November elections.

Lynch states that “As a film maker, I believe we made a well-produced film that exposes the truth, and the truth is illegal immigration is the biggest problem this country faces in the years to come. It is a crime, and it comes at a tremendous human and financial cost to both Americans and illegals immigrants.”

This Oscar-level film is a real eye-opener that puts the face of America on the immigration issue. It presents material in a manner interesting to neophytes as well as to those deeply enmeshed in the issue. Politicians should not be permitted to run for office until they have viewed the film. Highly recommended viewing for American voters.

About the author

Fred Elbel is an Internet marketing consultant and web designer and is spokesperson and former director of Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform.