Films and Books on Immigration

The following are films and books that feature immigration issues and can be used to foster conversations with friends, family, co-workers, parishioners and others about just and humane immigration reform.  Related discussion guides are available for most as noted. 

Brave New Films offers free documentaries ranging from short- to feature-length films that explore the perpetuation of racism, classism, and other social issues in U.S. society.  Films about immigrant prisons, border realities, stories of immigration, and more are available as well as discussion guides for screenings.  

Refuge(e) (2019)  

A 15-minute documentary that follows the stories of Alpha and Zeferino, two refugees who faced challenging journeys reaching the US, only to be incarcerated upon arrival.  This film explores the criminalization of asylum seeking and the private prison industry.    A screening toolkit is available on the website as well as more information about Prison Divest, Santa Fe Dreamers Project. 

Food Chains (2014) 

Uncovers the routine abuses workers face in the supply chain of fresh foods and the complicity of fast food and supermarket corporations.  The film centers in on a coalition of tomato pickers in Florida, and their efforts to revolutionize the industry to prioritize the dignity of life for farmworkers. 

Welcome to Shelbyville (2011) 
takes an intimate look at a southern town as its residents – whites, African Americans, Latinos and Somalis – grapple with their beliefs, their histories and their evolving ways of life.  You may find information on screenings around the country here. 

*A guide to discussion and theological reflection available for these films through Sojourners. 

The lives of the more than 400,000 children who struggle to dream while working 12 –14 hours a day, 7 days a week, in U.S. agricultural fields are explored in this award-winning documentary. It profiles three children on their journey from the onion fields of Texas to the apple orchards in Michigan and the tomato fields of Florida.   

Working in the Shadows (2010) 
Author Gabriel Thompson combines personal narrative with investigative reporting to shine a bright light on the underside of the American economy, writing about his year working alongside Latino immigrants. He exposes harsh working conditions, union busting, and lax government enforcement while telling the stories of workers, undocumented immigrants, and desperate US citizens alike, forced to live with chronic pain in the pursuit of $8 an hour.

This Flowing Toward Me: A Story of God Arriving in Strangers (2009) 
Mercy Sister Marilyn Lacey shares her experiences working with refugees to the United States and writes about the challenges they face and the spiritual lessons they teach. 

The 800 Mile Wall (2009: 90 minutes) 
This movie highlights the construction of the new walls along the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as the effect on migrants trying to cross into the U.S. It explores the ineffective and deadly results of a failed border policy and offers some thoughts and on how the current human rights crisis may be resolved. 

Made in L.A.* (2007: 70 minutes, available through Netflix or for purchase at the film’s website) 
follows the remarkable true story of three Latina immigrants working in Los Angeles garment sweatshops as they embark on a three-year odyssey to win basic labor protections from a trendy clothing retailer.  The story sheds light on the contradiction of consumers who take an anti-immigration stance while at the same time benefiting from products made with cheap labor.