The Gatekeeper (3/10)
2004 by Tony Medley
(writer-producer-director John Carlos Frey) is a bigoted U.S. Border
Agent who goes privately undercover to expose illegal immigration from
Mexico. As he is Hispanic, he goes to Mexico and poses as an emigrant,
wanting to get across the border illegally. Alas, things go from bad to
worse and heís trapped in an organized crystal meth drug ring, unable
to reveal his identity. But a transformation occurs as he begins to
sympathize with the plight of the illegal immigrants with whom he is
grouped as, basically, slaves for the ring.
Adam is trapped. But
this isnít a story about what happens to him, itís a story designed
to inspire sympathy for the illegal immigrant and they way theyíre
treated, and it accomplishes that. The immigrants are all wonderful
people, horribly oppressed by the hateful anglo drug bosses who control
All well and good.
But what the film ignores is that these people are breaking
the law! Nobody asked them to illegally enter the United States. The
film tries to make the viewer feel sympathy for them and to blame anglos
and the American government, and this is where itís dead wrong.
The problem of
illegal immigration from Mexico begins at home, with Vicente Fox and the
Mexican government who have been so corrupt that they have not created
an economy that allows its people to live in prosperity in their own
country. Lopez-Portillo, who was President of Mexico in the 1970s, was a
prime example of why Mexicans try to flee. While it was not unusual for
Mexican Presidents to earn hundreds of millions of dollars during their
single, six-year term, through corruption, Lopez Portillo took it to the
extreme and earned billions. I donít doubt that Fox is much different,
although he has taken an amazing anti-American attitude and blamed
everything on the United States.
The fact is that
nobody pulls a gun on these people and orders them to try to enter the
United States illegally. They do it because of the failure of their
government, run by Mr. Fox. A picture like this, which brings the
support of celebrities like Bruce Springsteen, who donated a song to the
film, ignores the serious problems that cause this in Mexico, and the
problems illegal immigration causes to the economy of the United States
in terms of welfare costs.
On a professional
level, this film is, well, not, uh, totally professional. But it was
shot on a $200,000 budget, so you have to admire the chutzpah involved
in getting it produced. The locations, in south San Diego County, are
have a hard time giving this a good review because it is so slanted to
one point of view and wrong-headed. The individuals who flee Mexico are
deserving of our sympathy. But they are so many in numbers and they
cause so much trouble to our economy that I donít want to write much
encouraging about this.
problem. I sympathize with these people who want a better life. But
thatís not something that is the problem of the United States. The
problem that the United States causes, and should be addressed, is that
the United States encourages this because of itís pie-in-the-sky
welfare system, which discourages people from performing menial jobs,
jobs that are necessary, like picking crops and performing household
cleaning services. If Americans who are on welfare werenít on welfare,
they would have to perform these jobs and theyíd be happy for them.
But, since Lyndoní Johnsonís ill-named Great Society encourages
people to go on welfare rather than work for a living, these jobs go
wanting, and theyíre filled by illegal immigrants.
So, this film, which
is pretty slow but does hold your interest finally, is tendentious. All
people who suffer deserve sympathy, but this is so slanted, and so
ignores the causes of the problem of illegal immigration, that it leaves
a totally incorrect impression, and that impression is that illegal
immigrants are not responsible for their victimization. In fact, they
make the decision to break the law and enter the United States
illegally. In fact, they are criminals.
The real dilemma
caused by illegal immigration is people who cross the border illegally
to work for good, honest people, like farmers and homeowners who hire
them to pick their crops and clean their homes. The immigrants are not
mistreated. They are paid a living wage and generally send money home to
their families in Mexico. The problem is how to deal with this flood of
people who do provide valuable services to people who are willing to pay
But, no, instead of
dealing with this difficult problem, Frey takes the demagogic way out
and pictures the immigrants as working for brutal criminals producing
illegal drugs. While this might happen, this type of occurrence is
in the end, this is a dishonest film, asking people to make a judgment
on illegal immigration by presenting a rare occurrence as a
generalization. As such, it is deplorable.
March 14, 2004