David Hayes-Bautista said he believes there is a disconnect between skepticism about undocumented workers and the realities of daily life.
“Everybody jumps up and down about undocumented workers,” said Hayes-Bautista, a professor of Medicine and Health Services and director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture. “Yet we all eat two or three times a day and there are very, very few products that we eat everyday that was not sown by, irrigated by (and) tended by … the hands of an undocumented worker. And if it weren’t for those hands, we wouldn’t be able to eat.”
Today CESLAC will be screening “A Better Life” at UCLA’s James Bridges Theater.
The film follows Carlos, an undocumented Mexican immigrant who works as a gardener in Los Angeles while raising a 15-year-old son, Luis, by himself. Through an unfortunate event, Carlos’ truck is stolen and the movie follows his struggle to retrieve it in order to provide “a better life” for Luis.
When a promoter of the film approached Margarita Reyes, producer and associate director of development at CESLAC, of possibly screening the film, Reyes said she immediately tried to make the event happen.
According to Hayes-Bautista, it did not take long for him to get on board and green light the event.
“We had the opportunity and the producer wanted to screen it here, so I said, “˜Hey, let’s do it here … (for) my selfish reasons ““ I wanted to see it,” Hayes-Bautista said.
Following the screening, director Chris Weitz will be joined by students and an undocumented day laborer as part of a discussion panel.
“It’s really a film that can create that space to have that dialogue with people who may or may not have knowledge of the issues,” Reyes said. “So that they can ask questions … (and think) “˜Maybe my classmates are undocumented or maybe my classmates’ parents are undocumented.’ You just never know who you’re sitting next to at UCLA.”
Laura Ochoa, strategy consultant and administrative assistant to Reyes, said that though people may be aware of undocumented immigration, she hopes the event will hit home and tie the situation back to UCLA students.
“You speak of 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country,” Ochoa said. “But you wouldn’t think it would be your classmates.”
Reyes said she hopes to change the immigration debate in a world where a Connecticut mayor answers a question about what he would do to help the Latino community in light of discrimination allegations with, “I might have tacos when I go home.”
“I just feel like the only way you’re going to change something like (the opposition to undocumented immigrants) on a personal level is to really change the way that people think of who really is undocumented,” Reyes said. “But the only way you’ll know is to have a conversation with someone who’s affected by it or maybe you go to a panel like this and talk to other people.”
Reyes and Ochoa said they hope the panel creates a dialogue with the audience to bring awareness to the issue of “illegal immigrants.”
As for Reyes, she said she prefers to use the term “undocumented.”
“No human being is illegal,” Reyes said.