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Last night, a diverse crowd of immigrant entrepreneurs, the tech community, day laborers, DREAMers, and their families came together for a screening of Jose Antonio Vargas' powerful new documentary chronicling his life as an undocumented American.
"Documented" was shown at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in downtown San Francisco to a crowd of over 700 attendees. FWD.us' Joe Green, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jose Antonio Vargas gave opening remarks before the screening, in order to highlight the tech community's deep commitment to comprehensive immigration reform.
"Immigration is who we are," said Green, FWD.us Founder and President, while explaining FWD.us' mission.
"This is something that we believe is really important for the future of our country--and for us to do what's right," said Zuckerberg.
In the feature-length film, Vargas recounts his journey from the Philippines to the United States as a child, and his subsequent coming out as an undocumented immigrant in 2011. The film also shows his journey inward to reconnect with his mother, whom he hasn't seen in 20 years.
The powerful film ultimately highlights the dysfunctional nature of our broken immigration system, and how they impede the lives of hardworking individuals - already contributing to their communities - and looking to continue making their mark as American citizens. It also illustrated that working on behalf of immigration reform is worth the fight--reforming these laws will strengthen our country and our economy. The importance of the work volunteers and organizers are doing on behalf of FWD.us and Define American was clear on Monday night, as many in attendance at the screening have lived similar stories to Jose Antonio Vargas.
After the film, Green moderated a panel discussion on the country's broken immigration system and what action we can take to help fix it. Vargas participated on the panel, joining immigration activist and DREAMer Gaby Pacheco, and FWD.us founders Andrew Mason and Ruchi Sanghvi.
"To build the best products and to build the best companies, we need the best people," said Sanghvi, in response to a question about the benefits of immigration reform. “Finding a job, choosing where you work, and choosing where you live should all be fundamental choices, but as an immigrant these are just hard stressful decisions and you’re basically surrounded by uncertainty all the time."
Participants at last night's event also had the opportunity to have their photos taken as part of the Inside Out 11M project, a nationwide participatory art initiative aimed at creating a portrait of America that includes immigrants and the descendants of immigrants alike.
In wrapping up the event, Vargas and Green both emphasized the need for immigration reform supporters to act now. "We cannot afford for you to be silent anymore," implored Vargas.
Join FWD.us in the coming days and weeks as we ramp up our efforts to see meaningful immigration reform passed in Congress.