Controversial expat Arellano gives face to momentous “Immigration Nation” doc

On March 10, 2006, award-winning filmmaker Esa? Mel?ndez took a camera to the streets of Chicago to document 500,000 people protesting HR 4437, the proposed Border Protection Antiterrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act.

The bill, if enacted, would affect the lives of 12 million undocumented workers and countless more whose families back home depend on income earned on American soil.

(The bill was passed by the House but died in the Senate).

Capturing this significant moment in modern history was the start of Mel?ndez’ role as the documentary filmmaker of “Immigrant Nation!” about the immigration reform movement.

This month, a year-and-a-half and 100 hours of footage later, he completed principal photography.

“Immigrant Nation’s” central character was an icon of the movement, Elvira Arellano, and it features an exclusive, intensely personal perspective into Arellano’s struggle.

It brings a face to America’s undocumented population, “To see them as human beings, not as a political issue,” said Mel?ndez.

Following the 2006 march, Mel?ndez continued gathering footage for what he believed would become a 30-minute piece about the movement.

Digging further, he began to interview undocumented individuals, among them Arellano, who was arrested in 2002 as part of the post 9/11 crackdowns while working on the cleaning staff at O’Hare.

Film follows controversial Elvira Arellano to Mexico