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By Marshall V. King
GOSHEN -- Even before immigration became a hot political issue, four Goshen College students were working on a documentary about its impact.
A year ago, sophomore Ben Noll, juniors James Weber and David Martinez and recent graduate Katrina Dyck won a $5,000 grant to produce a movie about immigration as it relates to Goshen and Apan, a city in Mexico from which many people come to the northern Indiana community.
After nearly 70 interviews, a trip to Mexico and a year of planning and editing, the group comprising Soluz Films is nearly ready to debut its film. The first showing of "Fuerza" will be at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9 at Goshen Theater, 216 S. Main St.
The quartet wanted to work together on a project to try to get a grant from the Plowshares Peace Studies Project.
Martinez, whose family immigrated to Goshen from Mexico nine years ago, was interested in immigration. His colleagues agreed to explore the impact of immigration on communities and people.
They interviewed Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman and state Rep. John Ulmer. During a stop along the border in Brownsville, Texas, two of them went to a press conference to hear U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and to talk to a border agent.
But they also talked to immigrants. Weber said they were "focusing on the human element, not just focusing on the political rhetoric we hear every day."
"We hear a lot of policy, but we don't hear a lot of stories today," Noll added.
Sometimes the stories found them.
When Noll and Weber were in Apan, they were surprised by the number of people who sought them out who had lived and worked in Elkhart County.
"It was astonishing," Noll said.
Noll struggled with the question of illegal immigration, but said he now sees the push and pull of governments. The U.S. government acts in ways that pull immigrants here, and the Mexican government pushes them here, he said.
Amid that push and pull, people struggle with whether to immigrate to try to break out of poverty and help their families.
"It's very personal -- it's an intense decision," he said. "It's not something people do for fun. It's not something they do because they feel like it. It's a necessity."
Weber was surprised to learn that immigrants, legal or otherwise, don't always want to be in the United States.
"They're here for growth and not necessarily to take advantage of us and stay here forever," he said.
The filmmakers hope to show their work numerous times throughout the community and plan to submit it to film festivals.
Contact Marshall V. King at email@example.com.