Another side of the immigration debate

I met yesterday with Larry Rich, executive producer of Maryknoll Productions, which has put out a new documentary on human trafficking. It’s called “Lives for Sale.”:http://www.livesforsale.com/index.html

The film is premiering over the next few weeks on PBS stations across the country. It’s on WLIW, channel 21, in Westchester this Saturday at 3 p.m. WNET (13) will show it in the fall.

The subject, of course, is deeply disturbing. To think that there are immigrants who are kidnapped and taken across the border — or tricked into thinking that a real job is awaiting them, only to be forced into slavery. Most are women or girls forced into prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation.

There’s no way no really know how widespread this practice is. Most victims of trafficking are kept locked away. Some who may have the opportunity to escape don’t know where to go or who they can trust.

The film makes clear that many victims are tricked by traffickers who are trying to take advantage of immigrants who want to get into the U.S. any way they can. Maryknoll, the Catholic foreign missions community based in Ossining, is certainly pro-immigrant, as is the larger Catholic Church.

“People put themselves at tremendous risk because they’re desperate,” Rich told me. “One of the risks is that they’ll be trafficked. You hope viewers will see this as more complex than they may have thought.”

I’m curious to see if those who want tighter immigration controls will see the film for what it is — a powerful overview of a terrrible social problem — or as liberal propaganda for immigration reform.

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.