Immigration reform. We keep meaning to do something about that is this country. We really have, but you know we’ve got this whole big thing with Iraq, four dollar gas, and this important election which hinges on who can wear the most flag lapel pins and supply dehydrated babies with bottled hot water. We just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

Both McCain and Obama have a record firmly in favor of a path to citizenship for America’s twelve million illegal immigrants, so maybe we’ll eventually cross it off the to-do-list but, until then, a lot of people’s futures hang in the balance.


VBS.tv‘s latest offering, Illegal LA, puts the politicians, the pundits, and all the hot air aside and follows citizens who are at the forefront of the immigration debate in Los Angeles.

On one side you’ve got two men who helped found two very sketchy, very different organizations.

Jim Gilchrist co-founded the Minuteman Project, a group that has taken border patrolling into it’s own hands. Gilchrist describes 500,000 Mexicans amassing in Los Angles streets, he doesn’t specify what the event was, but it sounds and awful lot like a parade, and says “Not only is that an insult to me and the American people and to our country and our rule of law. It’s tantamount to a declaration of war.”

Wally Wheeler was an original member of the LA gang The Crips, but blames immigrants for increasing violence, even though the immigrant population has doubled since 1994 and crime rates in cities with large immigrant populations have fallen by 34 percent.

On the other side, there’s Dov Charney, the founder and CEO of American Apparel, whose inclusion might catch flack. For one, he’s been known to cross some sexual borders, the legalities of which are being worked out in a series of law suits, and his company is also a major advertiser on VBS, as well as in it’s print forebear Vice.

Ad homonym arguments against his positions aside, American Apparel operates America’s biggest garment factory in downtown LA, pays it’s factory workers well over minimum wage, and offers perks like English classes. You’re not likely to find many CEOs in this country who are as aware of the plights of immigrants, and who have worked them into their business models, even if this one is also drenched with 70s porno style.

The least annoying participants are a group of teenage skaters, born in Mexico, most living in LA without documentation. They’ve been there since they were children and are as Americanized as McDonald’s apple pie. They speak English as well as any kid in a skate park, and a few of them even make a point not to lose their Spanish. Undocumented, they’re at risk, and they’re opportunities in the country are jeopardized; their faces are blurred out.

Gilchrist and Wheeler dreams of sending these kids back to a country they haven’t seen in over a dozen years (Charney on the other hand only dreams of them in candy colored briefs. (Red, white and blue briefs, at that).

VBS plans to cover immigration heavily for the rest of the year, and Illegal LA is their first offering.

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