The 2010 Census revealed in dramatic fashion just how quickly Latino communities are changing the face of the nation. Not only did the number of Latinos in the U.S. reach the 50 million mark years ahead of expectations, but Latinos accounted for an astounding 56 percent of the total population growth in the United States since 2000.
According to new demographic estimates, some 500,000 Latino U.S. citizens will reach the age of 18 every year — for the next 20 years.
The emerging Latino presence in the U.S. has not been universally welcomed. A growing anti-immigrant movement has succeeded in polarizing communities across the country, tapping into fears about economic uncertainty and demographic diversity. For years, conservative talk radio, Fox News, and even such mainstream networks as CNN, have allowed guests and program anchors to utilize derogatory language to describe Latinos as “illegals,” “illegal aliens,” and “anchor babies.” The issue of immigration is routinely framed as an “invasion” and a “drain on public resources.”
Being Latino immigrants ourselves, we felt compelled to take action. In 2005, we decided that the time had come for Latinos to tell our own immigration story, and to take on the difficult challenge of showing how the northward journey of millions of immigrant families was, in fact, driven by powerful forces closely connected to the actions our own country had taken throughout Latin America for more than 100 years.
Harvest of Empire focuses on seven countries located in the Latin American regions closest to the U.S. We see the true origins of massive migrations from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Nicaragua. We also meet a group of unforgettable Americans — WWII and Korean War veteran Gonzalo Garza, migrant farm worker turned neurosurgeon Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, torture survivor María Guardado, singer Luis Enrique, as well as mother/daughter Mariana Cabrera and Mariana Zamboni, whose immigrant story symbolizes the daily contributions Latinos make to the U.S.
The living history depicted in Harvest of Empire is a moving, inspiring and often heartbreaking tale that must become part of our national conversation about immigration. As filmmakers, our hope is to spark civil dialogue and help to:
- Challenge the negative stereotypes of Latino immigrants
- Raise awareness about the true origins of the Latino presence in the U.S.
- Focus attention on the contributions of Latino immigrants to our society
- Expose the harsh language being used to describe Latinos in the media
- Develop a deeper understanding for the real-life impact of U.S. foreign policy