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In its work toward a fair society fully inclusive of immigrants, CHIRLA uses know-your-rights tools that show immigrants’ struggles against an unjust system from the perspective of short and full-length films that tell a cohesive, dramatized narrative drawn from real cases. This innovative approach allows audiences, especially those not familiar with immigrant lives, to engage with our strife, our joys and our fears.


The short film America; I Too tells the stories of three undocumented immigrants who must navigate the system and fight their deportation -- from behind the bars of an immigration jail.

Manny Santiago, a young mural artist, is arrested after someone accuses him of tagging his very own mural. After spending the night in a holding cell, he learns that an old deportation order, and a vague accusation of gang ties, have already marked him for banishment from the United States. Manny tells agents these charges must be false, because he was nine years old when he supposedly committed the acts that flagged him for deportation. He refuses to sign a voluntary departure and ends up in immigration jail. Meanwhile, Myeong Kim, an older woman from Korea, is just about to start her shift at a garment factory where Ahmed Omar, a restaurant worker from Ethiopia, is delivering a pizza. But both become enmeshed in an immigration dragnet when ICE agents raid the factory. They also are sent to join Manny at the detention center. However, Manny, Myeong and Ahmed have different paths to travel with their immigration cases. We follow along as each searches for legal relief, and for the courage to fight for it.

The film,based on true immigrant stories, stars Academy Award nominee Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips) and features the music of Grammy winners Quetzal. Directed by Anike Tourse, the movie shows what attacks on immigrants look like today and how immigrants are fighting back and organizing, inside and outside immigration jail walls, to protect their basic human rights.

"This provocative short film provides a glimpse into not only the power that the state and its agents have over people's lives but also the power of community. Both devastating and inspiring, it is an indispensable educational tool for anyone seeking to understand what is perhaps the most hotly debated issue of our time."

-- Andrea Queeley, associate professor of African and African diaspora studies, Florida International University   


Along with know-your-rights training materials that are a basic tool to help immigrants avoid deportation, America; I Too can form part of an integrated curriculum to empower immigrant neighbors, family members and commuto take charge of their process toward legal status and to form a community that protects its right to due process. 

America; I Too can be a useful tool in organizing immigrant community through:

  • Teaching community members about basic human rights and how people can protect themselves against overreach by immigration authorities
  • Hosting rights-training/Q&A sessions for your classes or organizations
  • Underscoring messages in the film with other Know-Your-Rights materials
  • Partnering with a community organization to host a workshop and local screening of the film
  • Create fundraising opportunities for student organizations through on-campus screenings  
  • Tailor screenings to the language needs of different nationalities with closed-captioning in seven languages
  • Exploring streaming options through New Day Films





America's Family is CHIRLA’s first feature-length film that brings to life immigrants’ struggles and forms part of a know-your-rights curriculum. The production is a partnership of artists, activists and community members that tells five distinct stories within one family caught in the broken gears of a U.S. immigration system that determines disparate fates for each of them.

CHIRLA's new feature film, America's Family, tells the story of the five members of the Diaz family as they try to thread their way through the maddening immigration detention system to reunite across the U.S.-Mexico border.

When ICE officers break the peace of Thanksgiving to invade the Diaz home, the family frays as they face separate fates in our broken immigration enforcement system. Mother Marisol is jailed; eldest son Koke is deported to Mexico; father Jorge seeks sanctuary in a synagogue; and the two U.S.-born children, Valentina and Emiliano, an attorney, are left to try to reunite the family. Even as it wears an immigrant identity, the family’s journey is a quintessentially American story. The film involves actors and non-actors and is already in preproduction and filming.

You can join us in making it possible! Advance the immigrant rights struggle by donating to help us complete production of America's Family