The Classic Movies That Might Never Have Been

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentarios When we think of the decade of the 1980’s, one of the films that quickly comes to mind is Back to the Future –the film trilogy about a teenager named Marty McFly (played by Michael J. Fox) who accidentally goes back in time from 1985 to 1955 in a car made into a time machine by the eccentric scientist Emmett “Doc” Brown (played by Christopher Lloyd). When he gets back to 1955, Marty meets his parents before they got married. The first film and the three succeeding films not only became famous but have become classics in American movie history. Another movie that established a rising star was the film Frida . The film was about the turbulent life of Mexican artist and political activist Frida Kahlo. Salma Hayek, herself from Mexico, played the title role in the film. The film is a biography about the great artist whose short life helped change the arts in her native country. Both Michael J. Fox and Salma Hayek not only played leading roles in these two films, but their performances defined a whole genre of film making that would not have been the case had these two actors never been cast in these classic films.

And they nearly were not. Michael J. Fox was born and raised in Edmonton, Canada, and Salma Hayek was born in Coatzacoalcos, Mexico. Both became actors in their own countries. But even they knew that the place to be for becoming big name stars at the time was Hollywood. Fox entered the United States and started work before he got the U.S. visa to do so, and Hayek’s visa expired while she was in the United States. Eventually both had their immigration paperwork straightened out, but for a time both were not in the United States legally, and had our immigration laws of today been enforced when they were here these two actors would have been thrown out without question and their lives would be very different; not to mention their acting careers. Yes, the immigration process was not exactly great then, but before 2001 it was nowhere nearly as messed up as it is now. Hence, these two were able to get back into the United States legally and pursue successful careers. When we think about it, can we imagine the film trilogy Back to the Future being played by anyone else other than Michael J. Fox? And in the film Frida , Salma Hayek was Frida Kahlo.

These movie classics are part of our culture, part of our entertainment, and part of the great acting legacy left by two truly great actors who would never have gotten their chances if today’s immigration laws were enforced then. Because our present immigration laws are so mired in security paranoia, and because our present immigration laws are byzantine and largely unworkable, those who are undocumented have their status virtually set in stone. Simple law enforcement will not fix the problem, and obviously there are millions of undocumented who have been in this country for ten, 20, even 30 years who will not self-deport themselves. Like these two actors, they have their lives in America. Our immigration laws have to be fixed to accommodate reality. When I think about our current immigration system, I think about the two classic movies that might never have been.

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