New Film Series "We Are Witnesses: Becoming An American" Explores Immigration In The Trump Era

By Newsy | January 14, 2019

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Revelatory, first-person narratives launch January 14 at The Marshall Project and air nationally on Newsy

The Marshall Project, in partnership with Newsy, goes beyond the headlines in "We Are Witnesses: Becoming an American," a powerful short film series that explores what it means to be an immigrant in America today, premiering Jan. 14 at The Marshall Project.org.

In 12 beautifully composed, direct-to-camera testimonies, "We Are Witnesses: Becoming an American" takes a deeper look at asylum seekers, advocates, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, the documented and the undocumented. The series offers a 21st-century narrative of American immigration that depicts the struggle and humanity of its participants.

In the films, a family’s father is deported to Ecuador after living in New York City for 20 years. A Russian-born lesbian flees persecution in her home country to become an American citizen. A South Korean student makes the difficult decision to live in the shadows of society after triggering the revocation of his own visa. A former acting director of ICE describes how his opinions on deportation changed after taking on the role. A Honduran-born teen swims across a river under a dark sky to make it to America.

"'We Are Witnesses: Becoming an American' offers a realistic, humanizing view of immigration in America," Neil Barsky, founder of The Marshall Project and executive producer of "We Are Witnesses: Becoming an American." "Our hope is that by letting people tell their own stories, the series will help reclaim the narrative, and remind us of the courage and patriotism of millions around the world striving to become American citizens."

"Whatever your politics on the issue of immigration, the unavoidable truth is that policy impacts real people," said Christina Hartman, Newsy's vice president of news and programming. "From those who enforce it to those who live under it, there’s real value and understanding to be gained from hearing their stories."

The films are directed by award-winning documentarian Jenny Carchman, who also collaborated with Barsky on the first series of We Are Witnesses, focused on the criminal justice system, that was released in 2017. That series won the Edward R. Murrow Award, the Dart Award for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma, the NABJ Salute to Excellence Award, and was nominated for an Emmy and a National Magazine Award.

"We Are Witnesses: Becoming an American" will premiere on TheMarshallProject.org on Jan. 14. All 12 films will be available in an interactive digital feature. Journalist and activist Jose Antonio Vargas authored an original essay to accompany the films. "This video series accomplishes a task we have largely avoided: having an honest, uncomfortable, but truthful conversation about immigration," Vargas writes.

The films will also air exclusively on national news network Newsy the week of Jan. 14 during Newsy’s shows "The Day Ahead," "The Briefing" and "The Why," airing at 7 a.m.,1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Eastern. Viewers can check their local TV listings or visit newsy.com/platforms for all the ways to watch.

Carchman, Barsky and many of the subjects of the films are available for interviews and media appearances by reaching Ruth Baldwin at The Marshall Project: (212) 803-5270 or rbaldwin@themarshallproject.org

ABOUT THE MARSHALL PROJECT

The Marshall Project is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization that seeks to create and sustain a sense of national urgency about the U.S. criminal justice system. We achieve this through award-winning journalism, partnerships with other news outlets and public forums. In all of our work we strive to educate and enlarge the audience of people who care about the state of criminal justice.

ABOUT NEWSY

Newsy is the next-generation national news network that provides “news with the why,” built to inform and engage by delivering the top stories across every platform. Its content is available on cable; on over-the-top services including Hulu, Roku, Apple TV, Sling TV, Pluto TV, Amazon Fire TV and Google Chromecast; and on connected television including Xumo, Samsung, VIZIO and LG. Newsy is also available via its mobile apps and at newsy.com.