Javi is undocumented, gay, and on the verge of being deported, when he bumps into his estranged best friend Hunter, a boisterous bachelor yearning for connection. Together, they fight to keep Javi in the only country he’s ever known.
The Compatriots is inspired by my best friend Alberto (Beto). In high school I found out that Beto didn't have legal status in this country. Despite the fact that I had known Beto since middle school, I had no idea he was dealing with the continual fear that he and his family could be deported at any moment. In 2012, when Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was established, Beto finally experienced a temporary shield from the possibility of deportation, along with the ability to work legally in the US.
In 2016, when the Trump administration threatened to abolish DACA, Beto and I nervously “joked” about getting married to one another. But the truth is that this was no joke at all; Beto, who was just as much an American as me, was yet again facing the possibility of being deported to a country that he hardly even remembered. That is when I started writing The Compatriots, as a way to release my anxiety during this stressful time, and with the hopes that the film would contribute to some discourse around the subject of immigration. As I learned more about Dreamers (undocumented Americans that are brought to this country at a young age) and how they are stuck in a system with no answers and no path to permanent citizenship, this film and the story of so many undocumented Americans like Beto became more personal.
This movie doesn't have all the answers but I set out to show how inhumane it is that there are approximately 3.6 million people residing in this country who know no other home than the US, but live with the fear of being deported at any moment. Despite the fact that 74% of Americans believe that Dreamers should be given permanent status, there is no solution in sight for this sector of “Americans.”
Is it because most Americans would list this issue far down on their political agendas? Is it because many Americans have no personal connection to any Dreamers?
While watching The Compatriots, I hope that viewers who may not have a best friend like Beto, will experience a slice of life they have never experienced before. Although different from my best friend in many ways, the character of Javi is loosely based on Beto, and gives the audience a peek into the constant stress undocumented people face in this country. I want the audience to connect with Javi as their friend; I want the audience to fall in love with Javi. And I hope that after watching The Compatriots, when they hear stories about Dreamers, they will fight for policies to protect and provide permanent status for the 3.6 million Javis in this country.
I think it is also helpful to add that like many Americans, I am the descendant of immigrants. My ancestors came here in the 1920s escaping the rise of antisemitism in eastern Europe. If it was not for their bravery, I may not be here today. America is a country of immigrants and we need to support all humans who come here in pursuit of a better life.
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