Fund This Project: ‘Expanding Sanctuary’ Explores Philadelphia’s Grassroots Immigration Advocacy

Photo credit: Milady Nazir

I don’t have to tell you how dire things are in America regarding Trump’s horrific immigration policies and tactics. It’s becoming a common occurrence to see families ripped apart because of hatred, racism and xenophobia. Trump is essentially using the government organization ICE as his own gestapo, rounding up immigrants who are trying to create better lives for themselves and their children to fulfill is white supremacy “America First” agenda.

However, where there is darkness, there is light, and that light has come in the form of people all across the nation doing what they can to fight back against Trump. This also includes various grassroots organizations throughout the U.S. including Juntos, a nonprofit fighting for immigrant rights in Philadelphia. The documentary Expanding Sanctuary follows their mission to limit the surveillance of Philadelphia’s Latino community by ICE.

Expanding Sanctuary is directed by Kristal Sotomayor and produced by an all WOC team including Sotomayor, Marangeli Mejia-Rabell, Samantha Tan, Annie Diaz and Selena Yip. The film highlights Juntos’ work to end Philadelphia’s practice of sharing its police database to ICE, putting immigrant families at risk for deportation without legal due process. “The database holds personal information of not only those arrested, but anyone who has had any contact with the police,” states the film’s Seed & Spark page. “This means ICE had access to victims, witnesses, and those fingerprinted at the border.” Using this information, ICE has been able to follow through with deportation throughout Philadelphia.

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The film also highlights how the city’s relationship with ICE flies against its supposed stance as a sanctuary city and how Juntos is working to make Philadelphia live up to its sanctuary claim. “As the only film crew following Juntos, we aim to document a historic moment in immigrant and human rights legislation in the U.S. through the eyes of the Latinx immigrant community,” according to the Seed & Spark page.

Sotomayor wrote about why she created this film in her director’s statement, addressing her personal connection to the material.

“Because I am the daughter of Latino immigrants, I am a nonfiction storyteller. My passion for nonfiction stems from the lack of diversity and visibility of Latinx stories,” she wrote in part. “As a documentary filmmaker, I metaphorically aim my camera at the injustices my people face and project the beauty and strength of Latinx communities. Most of my films are bilingual, in both Spanish and English, with a narrative that revolves around themes of multicultural identity, language, immigration, and belonging.”

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The film is currently 67% funded on Seed & Spark, with their campaign to raise $10,000 ending August 15. That’s where you come in. You can help get this timely documentary completely funded by visiting their page, reading more about the film, and giving what you can. If you can’t give anything right now, then pass on the page, the documentary’s website, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to your friends and family; the more eyes on this documentary the better.

At the end of the day, Expanding Sanctuary will give its viewers a better look at how Trump’s policies aren’t theoretical; they hit close to home, much closer than you think. If you’re passionate about keeping families together and ending the madness that has taken root in the country, consider giving Expanding Sanctuary your support.