A new documentary film looks into the turbulent debate over immigration in Arizona and the passage of SB 1070.
The new documentary State of Arizona opens with Gov. Jan Brewer descending the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building after hearing arguments of key provisions of SB 1070, the state's controversial immigration law.
Mixing interviews with footage of heated protest rallies and TV coverage, State of Arizona tells the stories of Arizonans on all sides of this divisive issue, said film co-producer and director Carlos Sandoval.
"The project came about for me...in April 2010, I listened in on the Legislature and saw the developments of SB 1070 and...that issue of ‘reasonable suspicion,'" he said. "That was the catalyst for many of us to start paying attention, and that’s where my draw into the story really began. "
Sandoval said the story of SB 1070 involves many characters. The film has no narration and is told entirely through the voices of activists, politicians, Latino immigrants, ranchers, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and members of Tea Party movement.
Catherine Tambini, who co-produced and directed the film with Sandoval, and also worked as the main videographer for the film, said supporters of SB 1070 call it a common sense law-enforcement tool, while opponents feel it will inevitably lead to racial profiling.
However, what the film documents is how neighborhoods empty, businesses shutter, as immigrants flee the state.
"We really had an easy entry into the pro-immigrant community… we had a little more difficulty cracking the pro SB 1070 side of the issue, and it took us a while before we could interview Russell Pearce, the architect of the bill," Tambini said. "And it took us even longer to find people who could talk to us from that sort of middle ground."
Many people left Arizona when the law was passed. The filmmakers said those who choose to stay organized boycotts, mass demonstrations, daring acts of civil disobedience, and prepared families for the possibility of separation by sudden deportation.
Sandoval said Arizona’s enforcement-led policy is reshaping the national conversation around immigration reform.
The film State of Arizona airs Monday on Independent Lens on our sister station PBS-6 at 10 p.m. And, see an in-depth look at the current state of the immigration debate on Arizona Week* on PBS-6 – Friday at 8:30 p.m. and Sunday at 10:30 a.m. *