ILEGALES is the story of those who seek a better life in America, and was produced to spark a thoughtful discussion on border issues. While the arguments for and against immigration are numerous and complex, the film does not seek to advance a strong political, social, or economic agenda on the matter. Rather, it seeks to illustrate one striking fact:
33% of the adult population in Mexico, 23.8 million people, would like to migrate legally, or illegally, to the U.S. someday.
The Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan fact-tank based in Washington, D.C., provides some context. Immigrants come to the U.S.
Illegal immigrants constitute roughly 10% or more of the labor force in Arizona, California and Nevada, and nearly 8% in Texas. They are especially likely to hold low-skilled jobs. One in four farm workers is an unauthorized immigrant.
Nearly one-in-five Mexicans say they receive money from relatives living in another country.
With more than 10,000 deaths from drug-related violence in Mexico since December 2006, 95% of Mexicans call it a "big problem."
For a Better Life:
Close to 60% of Mexican nationals say that people who move from Mexico enjoy a better life in the U.S.
After spending over 30 years on the border, El Paso, Texas-based entrepreneur Gregg Jackson felt that the story of Mexican immigration deserved proper characterization. Gregg ran a successful manufacturing operation in Juarez, Mexico for 25 years, and has a rich personal understanding of the Mexican culture and its people. In his view, media and entertainment outlets in the U.S. marginalize the factors that drive immigration in the first place. Deep human themes of Exodus, of breaking multi-generational cycles of poverty and struggle, of seeking hope and prosperity, are often distorted by a U.S. - centric lens.
In the spring of 2009, Gregg was contacted by director Ric Dupont and producer Jake Pokluda about financing a feature-length film. From the first reading, ILEGALES, a screenplay by Roswell, New Mexico writer Carl Lucas, showed remarkable authenticity in portraying the realities of Mexican migration to the United States. Upon financing the project, Gregg brought in Iris MediaWorks producers Noah Workman and Patrick T. Rousseau. By mid-summer, the cast and crew for the film had been assembled.
Principal photography for ILEGALES was shot in July and August of 2009, and included a dozen locations across Southern New Mexico. Much of the filming took place on the 640,000 acre Corralitos Ranch, which featured expansive vistas dotted with sage brush, a location true to the conditions faced by many border crossers. A favorite of New Mexico filmmakers, it was most recently seen in the 2008 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Other well-known locations include the Old Dona Ana County Courthouse, which was built in 1937 and the Mesilla Dam along the Rio Grande, which was built in 1915.