District 9

March 30, 2010

District 9 poster

When I started watching the movie District 9, I was anticipating just another Alien flick. A movie with a bunch of human partly fascinated and partly terrified with alien species and a lot of loud and large explosions.
But as the story progresses, I realized this is not a usual alien movie.The aliens were not only living with the humans on earth, they were restricted and treated like a second class citizen. They were feared and also harassed.They were forced to relocate due to uncontrolled chaos and scarcity of food and resources. Despite of their destructive power, I found myself oddly siding with the aliens as they were badly mistreated, and all they want is to be able to survive and go home.
I think there’s a close enough resemblance to be drawn with the real world. Although I never experience it personally, but I can easily replace the aliens with the immigrant workers from the south border. The whole immigration debate is complex. I won’t even try to pretend to know the answer. This country has to walk a tightrope trying to strike a balance between being a compassionate nation and upholding the law of the land.

The movie particularly grabbed my attention when the guy who led the effort to relocate the aliens was infected with a liquid that was slowly turning himself into an alien. That forced him to look at the world a bit differently. Desperately trying to reverse the transformation and feeling betrayed by his own father in law, he formed a coalition with the aliens to survive. I guess there is such a thing as right and wrong, which transcend even species. In this case, injustice can easily be one of them. It doesn’t matter what race (or species) you are, when the basic fundamental right is violated, we shall step back and reevaluate if the law is made for men or men are made for the law.

Maybe walking a mile in the shoes of an immigrant worker can get you an ounce of compassion. I’m not condoning crossing the border illegally. I’m all for the laws as we need them to keep things in order. Having said that,the reality is, in 2009 we have approximately 12 million undocumented and illegal immigrants in this country. Some estimates, like from Bear Stearns, believe the count is actually closer to a whopping 20 million. What should be our attitude towards these people.

There are many more immigrant workers who are here legally, it doesn’t necessarily mean they want to be here. They are only here because however small income they get here, is more than enough to support 6 people or however many people back home.

So, the question is, as one of the most blessed nation in the history of the world, when we are called to “love thy neighbor”, should we extend the definition of neighbor to include immigrant workers, even the undocumented ones?