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“American Migrant Stories,” produced by California State University, Bakersfield’s Center for Social Justice and the Immigration Justice Collaborative (IJC) and directed by Miguel Orozco, was recently recognized by the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Awards with the September 2018 Award of Recognition.

“I’m blown away by this recognition,” said Political Sciences Department Chair and CSUB Center for Social Justice Director Dr. Mark Martinez. “As an educator my job is to inform, and through this documentary, we wanted to tell the broader story of immigration in American story. It’s a story about the human condition in America, and a story that needs to be told.”

Less than a year after premiering at CSUB, “American Migrant Stories” was recognized for documenting the long history of migration in America – the Homestead movement, the Dust Bowl era, and current migration patterns – while sharing powerful stories of deportation. The project began as a short archival project, then grew into a documentary of roaming legal clinics organized by local attorneys following the 2016 presidential election. The legal clinics were designed specifically to provide legal advice to the undocumented populations of Kern County.

“Winning this award means a lot to me and our production team since we spent a year documenting the lives of several Kern County residents,” said Director Miguel Orozco. “We're very grateful for the people that shared their stories in the documentary - especially the Immigration Justice Collaborative led by defense attorney H.A. "Beto" Sala.  Winning the award also means a lot to the communities that are featured in the documentary since it's very important to share their stories and let audiences know that we all come from somewhere.  We need to treat each other with respect and celebrate our diversity.”

Known as the Immigration Justice Collaborative (IJC), the group of attorneys who participated (about 35 in all) specialize in varying disciplines of law including criminal law, immigration, civil rights, and employment rates. The IJC played a valuable role in addressing the fears and concerns surrounding the undocumented community by empowering them with information, outreach, and knowledge about their constitutional rights.

Made possible by a grant from The California Endowment, “American Migrant Stories” is a 32-minute documentary that echoes the new reality thousands of immigrants face today. It also contrasts the experiences of migrants today with migrants from America’s past.

“Recently, the documentary was presented at the University of Texas at Austin and is being submitted to various conferences and film festivals throughout the U.S. and abroad.  Our goal is to share the documentary with a wide audience - especially young people,” said Orozco.

The Hollywood International Independent Documentary Award committee reviews documentaries submitted from around the world and gives out 12 awards per year. An annual film festival is held every March in Hollywood. Director Miguel Orozco and Professor Mark Martinez will attend this year’s festival, where “American Migrant Stories” will be recognized and awarded, along with other award winners.

To view the full documentary, please visit https://youtu.be/UQkngBP2Sko.

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