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Review by Laura G. Brown




[]  After seeing The Visitor, a story of an economics professor befriending illegal immigrants in New York, I bumped into a libertarian from our region. "Didn't you love the film's libertarian message?" I asked him.

When he addressed a minor plot point, I remembered his view, often stated in meetings, that illegal immigrants are a drain on taxpayers. It was a revelatory moment -- I can't count on fellow libertarians to agree with my belief in open borders.

Those who believe in the freedom to migrate, and who don't see Tarek and his girlfriend Zainab as criminals, will be inspired by their heart-wrenching ordeal at the hands of INS agents in The Visitor.

 In the film, Professor Vale comes to New York to give a lecture and finds that the couple has mistakenly sublet his apartment. Vale sympathizes with their plight, and befriends Tarek, a talented drummer who awakens a spark of life in the reserved professor.

After the new friends play drums together in the park, a dispute over a subway token elevates into Tarek's arrest and imprisonment in an enormous, faceless detention center. There he is held indefinitely, pending deportation to Syria.

It's painful to see the engaging, likable Tarek growing more nervous and desperate in jail, and the professor, used to success in the academic world, unable to navigate the Orwellian maze of the immigration system, even with the aid of a competent attorney. His over-the-top rant at film's end seems pointless (like paying your income taxes in pennies to irk the IRS, before the practice was outlawed), but his frustration with the bureaucrats is clear.

Much has changed since 9/11 -- who'd have thought we'd become accustomed to the phrase "pro-war Libertarians"? -- and the film depicts the INS as secretive, unresponsive, and capricious.





The Visitor led me to question the presidential candidacy of Bob Barr -- a reaction filmmaker Tom McCarthy probably never anticipated. Barr's roots come from conservative Republicanism. He still says he supports the Minutemen, a volunteer group that "helps" patrol the border.

I don't think Barr's conversion on the immigration issue will be as forthcoming or genuine as Vale's. I'm resigned to seeing the LP's presidential standard-bearer, and many LP members, dead set against immigration rights.



Laura G. Brown is a teacher and writer living in San Gabriel, CA.

She is a veteran candidate for State Assembly on the Libertarian Party of California.

Her email: lauragbrown at sbcglobal dot net






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