“14” documents struggles of those seeking U.S. citizen status

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

By Joshua Patton

Special to The Communitarian

Graham Street Productions showcased their documentary, “14,” on Marple campus March 2, questioning what it means to be an American citizen.

The documentary displays the fight of individuals and sometimes their children to retain their rights under the 14th Amendment, which states that anyone born in the United States is entitled to citizenship.

Jeffrey LaMonica, a DCCC associate professor of history, hosted the event for an audience of around 25 faculty and students.

“[The documentary] was suggested to us through a meeting of the Black and Women’s History Committee,” LaMonica said. “I thought it would be a natural fit.”

The 68-minute film featured the story of 10-year-old Vanessa Lopez, the American born daughter and granddaughter of undocumented residents, who offered her views on citizenship. Looking around her classroom, Vanessa said that citizenship meant she could “go to school, vote, and achieve more.”

The film also provided a short history of changes to the 14th Amendment, including the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court cases of Dred and Harriet Scott, African-American slaves desiring freedom

for themselves and their children, and Wong Kim Ark, a Chinese-American who was unable to reenter the United States for several months following a trip to his homeland because of the Chinese Exclusion Act.

Despite the protection of the 14th Amendment, which guarantees citizenship to any person born or naturalized in the United States, Julie D. Soo, a descendant of Wong Kim Ark, said that she is still discriminated against, despite having been a U.S. citizen all of her life.

“I’ve never seen [“14”] before,” said Keeley Michelle, DCCC’s director of paralegal studies, who put the project

together. “But I think it did a great job showing the impact of the issue.”

Although a question and answer session was planned for the end of the event, no questions or comments about the film were exchanged. In addition, several students left during the movie, leaving a group of about 12 people by the end of the film.

“Although the documentary ends in 2013, a lot of those things are still relevant today,” LaMonica said. “I think it was great.”

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