Movie Review – 9500 Liberty

This movie is literally ripped out of today’s headlines — there isn’t a more topical issue currently than illegal immigration.  9500 Liberty actually started out as a Youtube series, and has now been released in theaters as a full feature documentary.  9500 Liberty chronicles a Northern Virginia county after a local resolution is passed requiring law enforcement to investigate, upon “probable cause”, the immigration status of anyone they see on the street.  Just as in Arizona, this resolution sparks a heated and passionate debate between both sides of this contentious issue.

This film looks at Prince William County, Virginia — a hub of the building epidemic which reached bubble status between 2005 and 2007.  The abundance of construction jobs in Prince William County drew in a large Hispanic population, and the formerly homogenous bedroom community suddenly found itself to be a multicultural area — much to the dismay of many long-time residents.  Hearing Spanish spoken at the local supermarket and parties with thumping Salsa beats in the neighborhood was just too much for some existing residents to take.  As we all know, the boom turned to bust and although the jobs disappeared, the Latino community remained.

This is the backdrop of the current clash between those who desire to kick all illegal immigrants out of the country versus supporters of immigrant rights.  Interestingly, the crime rate in Prince William County has dropped since the influx of immigrants, and the area is becoming more reliant upon the financial contributions made by the Hispanic community.

This results in conflicting emotions within those supporting the new resolution — their own xenophobia might cause them significant financial loss.  The local Latino community has leveraged their power by threatening to boycott area businesses which support the new law.  9500 Liberty is a vibrant documentary following a wide array of interesting characters, and it serves as an excellent proxy to one of the largest issues confronting the American public.

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