Film: 9500 Liberty

A Virginia county’s battle over random immigration status checks.

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


In July 2007, the board of supervisors of Prince William County, Virginia, passed a resolution that allowed police to check the immigration status of anyone they suspected of being undocumented. 9500 Liberty chronicles the ensuing battle between the county’s sizable Hispanic population and folks like the founder of the group Help Save Manassas, who casually compares immigrants to invading Huns. Drawn from footage that filmmakers Annabel Park and Eric Byler shot and posted in real time on YouTube, this moving film (named after the location of anti-racist murals) follows how this local controversy turned into a national Rorschach test for attitudes about immigration reform and race.

The film’s climax comes during a showdown at a 13-hour county meeting. White supporters of the resolution rail against crowded neighborhoods and soaring crime rates, and urge everyone, “Don’t ever forget 9/11.” Opponents, including the white police chief, argue that immigrants are vital, taxpaying members of the community. “Don’t confuse 9/11 with the 7-Eleven,” says one speaker. “The guys at the 7-Eleven just want to work.” After several months, the resolution was repealed, but Prince William’s immigrants had already gotten the message: Toward the end of the film we see empty storefronts and abandoned homes in what were once vibrant neighborhoods.

THE END...

of our annual funding cycle is fast approaching, on June 30, and we have a considerable $230,000-plus gap in our online fundraising budget.

If you value the nonprofit journalism you get from Mother Jones, and you can, right now is an important time to help us keep charging hard with a much-needed and much-appreciated donation.

payment methods

THE END...

of our annual funding cycle is fast approaching, on June 30, and we have a considerable $230,000-plus gap in our online fundraising budget.

If you value the nonprofit journalism you get from Mother Jones, and you can, right now is an important time to help us keep charging hard with a much-needed and much-appreciated donation.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate