America’s Forgotten profiles victims of America’s illegal immigration problem—including the illegal immigrants
by Sharon Dierberger
Film director Namrata Singh Gujral felt immediate compassion when she learned about a beautiful 6-year-old girl from India who died crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally last year. Her story and others inspired Gujral to produce a documentary, America’s Forgotten, to investigate. What she learned turned her preconceived ideas about illegal immigration upside down.
Gujral intended to show the plight and persecution of illegal aliens. Instead she found the narrative of her political party—the Democratic Party—to be false. She now believes the United States must do everything possible to stop illegal immigration—for the sake of all immigrants and all Americans.
The film explores why a mother from India would risk taking her young daughter on such a dangerous journey. The girl, Gurpreet, died of dehydration in the desert after smugglers left the two and promised an easy walk across the border.
Gujral visits India expecting to find Gurpreet’s family impoverished or persecuted. But she discovers a wealthy family facing no danger and grandparents weeping for a granddaughter.
Gujral next interviews Indians in poor districts and finds they have no desire to emigrate to America and don’t have the money ($50,000-$75,000) to pay smugglers anyway.
She records unscrupulous agents luring potential victims with promises about America. In one scene, smugglers play a clip from a Democratic Party presidential debate in which all candidates raise their hand in support of free healthcare for undocumented aliens.
Coyotes—human traffickers—never mention hazards of border crossing, such as a Department of Homeland Security statistic: One-third of women were sexually assaulted on their journey. Nor do they explain negative repercussions of living in the United States illegally, like the fear of reporting a crime to police because of a deportation risk.
The film’s other storylines seem somewhat disparate and rambling, but Gujral tries to coalesce them to illustrate how illegal immigration hurts everyone except coyotes, corporations that hire illegal immigrants for low wages, and politicians.
She speaks with parents of a man killed by an illegal alien who’d been previously deported and had DUI convictions. She talks to a woman who was raped repeatedly during her illegal border crossing, was sold to numerous people, and now lives in fear. She interviews homeless veterans who feel less important than illegal immigrants who get more media attention and benefits.
Gujral strengthens her conclusions with startling statistics and expert testimony. She also suggests an immigration solution worth exploring involving work visas.
Fearing this exposé (unrated and available to stream online) will get her blackballed by Hollywood liberals, she says, “You must have a willingness to consider evidence that contradicts your beliefs and admit … you may be wrong.”
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A hole inside
The Donut King traces how one big-hearted entrepreneur rose to wealth and squandered it all
by Bob Brown
You’d think a story about a doughnut shop entrepreneur would be sweet through and through. The new documentary The Donut King recounts Ted Ngoy’s journey from Cambodian refugee to owner of 70 California breakfast eateries. But Ngoy’s love of money would be his eventual undoing.
In 1975, Ngoy and family members came to America, parlaying long hours into substantial wealth. Ngoy’s generosity matched his work ethic. He supported and trained dozens of Cambodian immigrant families. At one point, 90 percent of California’s 5,000 independent doughnut stores were owned by Cambodians, many of whom first stirred the batter in Ngoy’s kitchens and later opened competing shops. Some tell their stories in the film. Meanwhile, Ngoy was losing all he had to gambling.
The Donut King (unrated, with several expletives) delivers more than a cautionary tale. Film footage and interviewees’ recollections revisit the horror of the Khmer Rouge’s forcible evacuation of Phnom Penh’s 2 million residents. The film also details the American people’s warmhearted response as many communities opened their doors to assimilate Cambodian refugees.
Still, it was America where Ngoy lost everything. Don’t glaze over the lesson: A man can come to ruin amid either strife or comfort.
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Raising his voice
Kingdom of Silence charts Jamal Khashoggi’s shift to Saudi Arabian critic
by Bob Brown
Throughout history, criticizing the governing authorities has been a sure-fire way to lose your home or your head. Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi enjoyed the Saudi Arabian ruling royal family’s confidence for years. Then he began to speak and write openly against his country’s perceived failure to embrace democratic and social reforms.
In Showtime’s new documentary Kingdom of Silence (rated TV-MA), friends and former colleagues describe Khashoggi as loyal to king and country in spite of his criticism. But king and country—or one of its princes, at least—no longer saw him that way. In October 2018, Khashoggi was murdered in gruesome fashion.
The documentary picks up in the mid-1980s, during the Soviet Union’s war with Afghanistan. Several Muslim-majority nations sent fighters to aid Afghanistan. Khashoggi was working as a war correspondent for various Arab newspapers and also possibly serving as a Saudi Arabian intelligence agent. He developed a close relationship with a Saudi military leader named Osama bin Laden.
“Jamal looked at bin Laden with stars in his eyes,” New York Times staff writer Lawrence Wright says in the film. “Then he began to hate what bin Laden had become.” But even after 15 Saudi nationals and four others carried out the 9/11 attacks, Khashoggi continued to defend Saudi Arabia publicly. He denied that his nation’s government was responsible for the almost 3,000 American deaths. Khashoggi’s reputation as an internationally recognized journalist lent his words credibility.
Khashoggi saw that freedom of expression was the key to reform in the Arab world.
“At each and every junction in modern Saudi history and U.S.-Saudi relations, Jamal was there at that crossroad, either reporting, explaining, or spinning,” says Al Jazeera political analyst Marwan Bishara. The documentary also plays clips of interviews with Khashoggi, and actor Nasser Faris narrates parts of the film by reading Khashoggi’s writings.
Then came the Arab Spring—two years of pro-democracy uprisings in several Arab countries starting late in 2010. It caught by surprise and profoundly influenced Khashoggi. Wright says Khashoggi “saw that freedom of expression was the key to reform in the Arab world and especially in Saudi Arabia.” Khashoggi remained a loyal Saudi, remembers friend and former Middle East Institute colleague Maggie Mitchell Salem, but “how he defined loyalty clearly evolved and changed.” To Khashoggi, loyalty meant pushing his beloved kingdom toward democratic ideals.