A movie about illegal immigration

Tim W. writes (July 5):

I re-watched a 1949 film noir today called Border Incident. It deals with illegal immigration, and it’s interesting seeing the attitude toward it sixty years ago. The film was directed by the underrated Anthony Mann, who helmed some great Noir films as well as some of James Stewart’s westerns.

Border Incident stars Ricardo Montalban and George Murphy as federal law enforcement agents for Mexico and the United States, respectively. The illegals are treated sympathetically in the film, so that attitude was around back then. The border jumpers in the film aren’t coming here to stay (as millions do now), but to do seasonal farm work and then go back home to Mexico. They’re depicted as poor peasants who are just trying to earn a few pesos, only to be exploited by rich plantation owners and victimized by Mexican “human cargo” smugglers and bandits.

However, even though the illegals are treated sympathetically, the film takes a firm stand in favor of border enforcement. Officials of both the U.S. and Mexican governments are depicted positively, as determined to stop the illegal border crossings. Montalban’s character goes undercover as an illegal migrant farm worker to bust the human smugglers, while Murphy zeroes in on a wealthy California farm owner who uses cheap illegal labor.

I wonder how accurate that depiction of the Mexican government of 1949 is. Did they really work to stop their citizens from crossing illegally onto American soil? Today, they encourage it. But then, so does our own government.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 06, 2009 02:57 PM | Send

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