Wartburg was the first out of 12 other schools in the Midwest where “The U Turn,” the third documentary in the trilogy about immigration by the Guatemalan filmmaker Luis Argueta, will be shown.
The documentary reflects on the journey and lives of Guatemalan illegal immigrants who suffered abuses while working for a meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa.
“I think we need to understand again what are the reasons why people leave their homes. They leave their homes because they don’t have a better opportunity. Nobody leaves their homes and leaves everything behind because they want to come to Iowa for a vacation,” Argueta said.
In 2008, more than 300 immigrant workers at Agriprocessors plant, were arrested for holding false identity papers. This is known as the Postville raid, the focus of Arguetas’s “Abused”, “Abrazos” and “The U Turn” documentary trilogy.
“It’s such a compelling story that affects Iowa and talks about immigration and diversity,” Zak Montgomery, associate professor of Spanish, said.
Montgomery contacted Argueta this year when he learned about “The U Turn” documentary and decided to bring him to campus to take part of the Michaelson, Briner & Kildahl Literary Symposium.
This is not the first time Argueta has visited Wartburg. He came to campus in 2011 and then in 2014 when he showed his documentary “Abrazos”.
“The U turn” also touched on topics such as U-Visa, which is a non-immigrant visa offered to victims of physical and mental abuse that are eager to help the government in the investigation of those crimes.
“I learned that the U-Visa was a successful tool for the women and men from the Postville raid that suffered injustice and received terrible treatment during their time at the plant,” Nick Arp, one of the students who attended the documentary, said.
After the projection of the documentary in the Lyceum, Argueta answered questions from the audience and addressed the main topics of the documentary.
As part of his answers Argueta said that the immigrant community face fear and that it is important to remember that they, as others, also have a dignity that matters.
“I am very concern that there is this attitude anti-immigrant. Sadly, it’s not just in the U.S., I think it’s in many parts of the world,” Argueta said.
In the class Latinos in the United States that Montgomery teaches, students had the chance to discuss what they learned from the documentary.
Montgomery said his students talked about the human aspect of immigration and how the film gave a personal story to the face of immigration.
The documentary, Arp said, gave him more insight on the process of deportation in the United States and a local view on immigration.
“The Postville raid happened right here in Iowa. These individuals whose stories were told in the documentary are our neighbors and our co-workers,” Arp said.
Arp said that the local angle the documentary provides is eye-opening and helps people to realize that the issue is not exclusive of the southern states.