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Congressional Hispanic Caucus nominates 25 Latino movies for National Film Registry

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Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus are nominating 25 films highlighting the experiences of Latinos in the U.S. for inclusion in the National Film Registry.

The nominations are part of growing efforts to fight Latino underrepresentation in Hollywood, Reps. Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., and Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, said in a letter to Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden on Tuesday.

Some of the nominated films are Julie Taymor’s 2002 biographic film “Frida,” starring Salma Hayek as the legendary Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, and Edward James Olmos’ 2006 film “Walkout,” based on the true story of the 1968 East Los Angeles high school walkouts, starring Michael Peña and Alexa Vega.

Some delve into Latin American politics or history, such as the 1989 film “Romero,” with the late actor Raúl Juliá, about the assassination of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero by right-wing death squads, which preceded a long civil war.

Other movies focus on family and culture, such as María Ripoll’s 2001 film “Tortilla Soup,” starring Hector Elizondo as a retired chef who insists that his three adult daughters gather every Sunday for family dinner. Also on the list is Alfredo De Villa’s 2008 film “Nothing Like the Holidays,” starring Alfred Molina, Elizabeth Peña and John Leguizamo, which depicts an extended Puerto Rican family’s Christmas holiday gathering in Chicago.

“The National Film Registry’s very existence speaks to the importance of film in American culture and society. Hollywood is the main image-defining and narrative-producing industry in the United States. As you know, Latinos remain dramatically underrepresented in this influential industry, contributing to the misperceptions and stereotypes about Latinos in our society,” the lawmakers said in their letter to Hayden.

“When we cannot tell our stories, others will tell stories about us — we believe this is a significant factor motivating ongoing anti-Latino sentiment in American society, one which negatively impacts Latinos in all aspects of society, from immigration law to the education system to the current public health crisis,” the letter reads.

In January, Castro nominated Mexican American filmmaker Gregory Nava’s 1997 movie “Selena” for preservation at the Library of Congress.

Netflix commissioned the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative to conduct its first comprehensive study of diversity and inclusion in its film and series programming. Researchers found that a mere 4.5 percent of main cast and crew members in Netflix U.S. series and films in 2018 and 2019 were Latino, even though Latinos make up about 19 percent of the country’s population, according to the report, which was released Friday.

“Though Latinos comprise almost 20 percent of our country’s population, they remain severely underrepresented in Hollywood,” Ruiz, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said in a statement. “Including more Latino films in the National Film Registry will help elevate Latino stories, promote an inclusive media landscape, and empower Latino filmmakers and storytellers.”

Castro said in a statement that Latinos remain drastically underrepresented in this year’s awards season.

“The Library of Congress’ National Film Registry can help rectify that exclusion,” Castro said. “And while we celebrate these great Latino films, Hollywood must ensure that new generations of Latino filmmakers will have the opportunity to tell their stories on screen.”

Here is the full list of the nominated films:

  • “The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez” by Robert Young (1982). The Western film tells the true story of a Mexican farmer-turned-outlaw hero in turn-of-the-century South Texas.
  • “Latino” by Haskell Wexler (1985). A Mexican American Green Beret starts to question his beliefs as he is sent to lead the Contra rebels on a series of raids in Nicaragua.
  • “The Milagro Beanfield War” by Robert Redford (1988). It tells the story of a small New Mexico town’s confrontation with powerful business interests.
  • “Romero” by John Duigan (1989). A biopic about Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero’s assassination in 1980 and El Salvador’s civil war.
  • “Lo que le pasó a Santiago” (“What Happened to Santiago”) by Jacobo Morales (1989). A widower in Puerto Rico begins a new relationship with a mysterious woman.
  • “American Me” by Edward James Olmos (1992). The story of a Mexican American man’s experience with prison and discrimination.
  • “Blood In, Blood Out” by Taylor Hackford (1993). The tragedy of three Chicano cousins who are divided by their divergent life choices amid gang conflict in East Los Angeles.
  • “My Family” by Gregory Nava (1995). A generational epic of an Mexican American family through the 20th century.
  • “Tortilla Soup” by María Ripoll (2001). The story of three adult sisters and their father, a retired chef, who insists that they all gather every Sunday for dinner.
  • “Spy Kids” by Robert Rodriguez (2001). Two children become spies after they discover that their parents are superhero spies.
  • 12 Horas” (“12 Hours”) by Raúl Marchand Sánchez (2001). The film shows 12 hours in the life of a taxi driver and other characters in Santurce, Puerto Rico, amid the reality of the night life.
  • “Frida” by Julie Taymor (2002). A biopic following the life of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.
  • “Raising Victor Vargas” by Peter Sollett (2002). A Dominican American teenager in New York comes to terms with his family and romantic relationships.
  • “The Motorcycle Diaries” (2004) by Walter Salles. A road movie following Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s formative motorcycle journey across South America in the early 1950s.
  • “Maria Full of Grace” by Joshua Marston (2004). A pregnant woman from Colombia lands in New York and becomes an undocumented immigrant.
  • “Hermanas” (“Sisters”) by Julia Solomonoff (2005). Two Argentine sisters reunite in Texas and relive traumatic family memories of the military dictatorship they fled.
  • “Viva Cuba” (“Long Live Cuba”) by Juan Carlos Cremata (2005). Two Cuban friends run away from home when they discover that they will be separated when one of their families migrates to the U.S.
  • “The Lost City” by Andy Garcia (2005). A family is divided by the Cuban revolution, leading one brother to join the revolution and the other to flee to the U.S.
  • “Walkout” by Edward James Olmos (2006). The true story of the 1968 East Los Angeles high school walkouts.
  • “Under the Same Moon” by Patricia Riggen (2007). A Mexican boy’s journey across the border to reunite with his mother in Los Angeles.
  • “Nothing Like the Holidays” by Alfredo De Villa (2008). A Puerto Rican extended family gets together for the holidays.
  • “Down for Life” by Alan Jacobs (2009). The movie follows a day in the life of a Latina high school student as she struggles to make it to college.
  • “Don’t Let Me Drown” by Cruz Angeles (2009). The love story of two Latino teenagers in New York in the aftermath of 9/11.
  • “Gun Hill Road” by Rashaad Ernesto Green (2011). A father recently released from jail comes to terms with his trans daughter’s coming out.
  • “A Better Life” by Christopher Weitz (2011). An undocumented Mexican worker in Los Angeles searches for his stolen truck alongside his son.

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On immigration, the confusion is coming from inside the White House

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President Joe Biden appears to be confounded by the substance and politics of immigration.

The latest evidence of that is Friday’s laughable-if-it-wasn’t-so-serious White House backtrack of Biden’s walk-back on refugee policy. After promising to raise President Donald Trump’s annual cap on refugee admissions from 15,000 to 62,500, Biden balked on Friday morning. Then, under heavy pressure from fellow Democrats — many of whom had described Trump’s policy as racist, xenophobic and un-American — Biden decided on Friday afternoon to increase the number of refugees admitted into the country.

How many? “His initial goal of 62,500 seems unlikely,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement issued late Friday. The policy, she said, “has been the subject of some confusion.”

That confusion is coming from inside the White House.

It is the result of a much larger conundrum for Biden: finding the safe harbor spot on immigration that satisfies his base and doesn’t alienate centrist voters. He’ll never win over hard-line conservatives whose views are represented by a new Anglo-Saxon caucus in the House or more temperate conservatives who prioritize restrictive immigration policies.

But even if he doesn’t seek re-election in 2024, he needs both wings of his own coalition to move his agenda and keep Congress in Democratic hands in next year’s midterm elections.

So far, Biden is not just failing to please everyone; he’s having a hard time pleasing anyone. Less than a quarter of adults approve of his handling of immigration, according to an AP-NORC poll released last week, and the share of Democrats who view illegal immigration as “a major problem” has spiked from 15 percent to 29 percent in the last year, according to the Pew Research Center.

“It’s easy to promise a quick fix in a campaign, but the reality of the situation is it’s a mess and they don’t know how to address it,” a senior Senate Republican aide said of the broader issue. The back-and-forth over the refugee cap “is less an indictment of policy and more a highlight of how complex and difficult this issue is,” the aide added.

While the refugee policy limits legal rather than illegal immigration, Democratic lawmakers and immigrant-rights advocates are eager to see changes across the board after Trump cracked down on both forms of migration.

Biden’s stumbles on the issue come at a time when a surge of migrants to the U.S.-Mexico border has forced officials to house children in overcrowded facilities and forced Biden to reconsider his vow to allow asylum-seekers to await adjudication of their cases in the U.S.

Given that Biden’s overall approval ratings remain squarely on positive turf — roughly between 54 percent and 59 percent, depending on the poll — sentiments on his handling of immigration could be insignificant to his standing or a harbinger of trouble ahead. His skittish approach to the issue suggests more concern about the latter than confidence about the former.

Before taking office, Biden said he wanted to reverse Trump’s immigration policies but would set up “guardrails” to ensure that he didn’t act rashly in a way that “complicates what we’re trying to do.” He issued an executive order creating a review of Trump’s policies shortly after being sworn in, but has thus far left many of them in place.

Until Friday, Biden’s Democratic allies had been reserved in their criticism of his moves, hopeful that he will ultimately implement an immigration agenda that more closely approximates campaign-trail rhetoric envisioning “an immigration system that powers our economy and reflects our values.” Then the dam broke with news of his initial decision to leave the Trump refugee cap in place.

“Say it ain’t so, President Joe,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said in a statement. “This Biden Administration refugee admissions target is unacceptable.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., a leader of House progressives, accused Biden of having “broken his promise to restore our humanity” and called the 15,000 cap “harmful, xenophobic and racist.”

One Latino-rights advocate who has been in discussions with White House officials on immigration policy told NBC News last month that the administration did not appear to have a plan on the issue. The advocate spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid angering allies in the White House. But activists have had to lean on their faith in Biden’s intent to reverse Trump’s policies as they wait for action.

Democratic officials’ response to the initial refugee cap decision is a sign that their patience is fleeting.

“We can’t allow refugees and asylum-seekers to sit and suffer because of Washington politics,” Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro said. “I’m glad the administration has reversed course on lifting the refugee cap. It should be done immediately and up to the target promised.”

Biden’s timidity reflects confusion over how to line up his stated policy goals with his political interests.



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Tories braced for loss of 550 council seats at 'Super Thursday' local elections

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SENIOR Tories are braced for a loss of 550 council seats at the “Super Thursday” local elections next month.

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End reliance on EU! UK must become self-reliant to avoid being at bloc's mercy on vaccines

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THE recent vaccine wrangle underlines why the UK must also end its reliance on goods imported from the EU, Brexiteer Jayne Adye has said.

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