A Good Movie – Crossing Over

Last night we watched Crossing Over, a movie from 2009 with Harrison Ford, Ashley Judd and others. IMDb link for more info.  It’s a wonderfully done movie about immigration with stories about various families and individuals in Los Angeles trying to live as illegals, or trying to become legal, and some of the immigration officials who work in LA.

As someone living in a different country it was especially thought provoking. How easy it was for us to pull out our passports and enter Panama. How different it is for so many others entering a foreign country with hopes and dreams, or sometimes out of desperation with risk to their very lives. What is it like to live without legal status? What is it like to live with the daily threat of discovery and deportation? What would it be like to know that I could be stopped by any policeman and asked for my papers, and I would be unable to produce them?

I know immigration is a tough subject with many valid points on both sides. I don’t have any answers. I met undocumented people through my nursing work in Florida (which was when I first started learning some Spanish). When you know an individual with a face and a story it feels different. These were people who couldn’t find any work in Mexico to support their families. They risked everything to get to the US and didn’t see their families for years. Children grew up without seeing their father, and wives were single parents back home. They had taxes taken out but couldn’t file for their refunds. They worked hard and usually lived in very crowded conditions to save money so they could send more money home.

Anyway, I could rattle on but not come up with any answers or opinions on how to solve anything. This excellent movie just made me think about how very fortunate I am to be able to pull out a passport and go pretty much anywhere I wish in the world. And, I can go back to my country of origin without fear for my life and safety. There are countless people in the world who can’t say that.

I don’t mind looking at Harrison Ford for a couple hours either 😀

P.S. We have a computer hooked up to our TV and watched the movie on Netflix (streaming). We run Tunnelbear, an easy to use program which allows us to watch things that may be normally blocked in Panama, usually because of some non-agreement between the US networks and Panama.

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About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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13 Responses to A Good Movie – Crossing Over

  1. Jerry says:

    Hi Kris,
    We too get Netflix streaming and we are going to watch it tonight with our girls. I too work with many undocumented people from Central and South America as we struggle to find them health care. Thanks for recommending it.

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  2. indacampo says:

    Excellent post Kris. After just having read DR’s blog readers comments about the whole grocery tipping thing it was so nice to find a gentle place to land. 🙂

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  3. Elvira says:

    Hello Kris, thanks for your thoughts on this situation.
    I can tell you that I made the experience myself living in the US illegally.
    I am German and I was not hungry or without job. But since I came the first time to the US on vacation in 1954 I decided I have to live in this country and nowhere else because it feels like home.
    So I finally got a care taker job in MA und got a 6 month to stay visa and made an extension of 6 month. so after one year I decided to go back to Germany for 4 weeks and than I returned to the US. But the border agent gave me 4 weeks only to stay. And in those 4 weeks I had to make the decision, leaving or staying. So I decided to stay and that was 1995. I was 55 at this time already and I got jobs as a nanny, I like little kids anyway. The last job I had for 8 years and those 2 little girls are like my own daughters. I had a great life there for 18 years and tried not to think about my status. Yes I could have get married, but without falling in love I cannot do this.
    You see there are other people living illegal in the US. Not only Latinos. I did it because I l o v e
    the US and this is my homeland. When I hear the amer. anthem I stand up and put my right hand to my heart. I cannot help myself. When 9/11 happened I wanted to get a flag for my car but they are all sold out. But I saw at a intersection a little string lying on the ground. I picked it up and saw it was all over with the American flag. So I put it in my car and felt much better. I still have it.
    I left the US in Feb. 2012 and live now in the Dom.Rep. I founded a Real Estate Company and will apply for residency here. And than next year I will try to get a visitor visa to visit Florida.
    I know I have a 10 year ban but there is a waiver and if they see I have enough reasons to leave the US on time I hope they will grant one.
    You will ask me why I left on my own. The reason was my mom was old and sick and I did not see her for 14 years. And my kids wanted me to be closer to them despite they visited me once a year. Also the last family did not need a nanny anymore and I was afraid not to get a new job at the age of 72.
    Meanwhile I got my german pension to the US but it was not be enough.
    I paid a high price for living so long in the US like not attending my daughters wedding, nor birth of my grandson, nor being at my fathers funeral which was the hardest part for me.
    I was regretting my move back to Germany and I was suffering so much. The first time in my life I felt homesick. But now I see that positive because working as a Real Estate Agent I could have never done in the US without license. So here in the DR I don’t need a license and it looks like I will have a nice business. And in the Dom.Rep. live so many Americans, I cannot live without them. And American TV too-lol-
    I hope I did not bore people so much with my long story. Just to explain that there are people who want to live in the US because they love it so much.
    American friends say I am an American in a German body.
    Thanks for reading and have a nice day
    Elvira

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    • Thank you so much for sharing your story and thoughts 🙂 You may not have had as desperate reasons as some for coming to the US, but your reasons were very compelling to you. And, you understand what it is like to live without legal status, and to be separated from your people because of it. I’m glad it worked out for you for the most part, and now you have a good life in DR.

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  4. D. Quijote says:

    Life, always an experience. Interesting, you must have worked in FL before ’96. In ’96 illegals in the US could get ITIN’s and the fraud that came with it was shameful. The average illegal didn’t even pay the 10% (without deductions) that the lowest end of the socioeconomic scale pays in the states. ITIN’s are no longer what they were for 15 years (an extremely easy way to cheat) and this year they are being reined in.
    Health care in the US is a shame too. We spend17.6 percent of our GDP and get very little for that when compared to all other rich countries and many poor ones too. Maybe Patient Protection and Affordable Care will end up giving us what others enjoy but fighting against entrenched interest is more than an uphill battle. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2012/10/health-costs-how-the-us-compares-with-other-countries.html

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    • The illegals I knew to too scared to file anything with the IRS, feeling that this would lead immigration right to their doors. They usually operated with fake SS numbers, and if they were checked and found out, they moved on to the next job.
      I’m not even going to get going on health care because I have a HUGE soap box. It’s a shameful mess. As both a provider and uninsured consumer because I couldn’t pay the huge premiums, I have opinions! I think, until we get the insurance companies and other businesses who make huge profits in the system, nothing is going to get much better.

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  5. Elvira says:

    I don’t know why you say the fraud came with the ITIN. I have an ITIN nr. and every year I did my tax return. So I felt good about it because it was one thing I could do legally for the country I love.
    I never needed any medical care because I am very healthy.

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