Ebert Reviews 9500 Liberty: Big Thumbs Up

I had the opportunity to see a preview of 9500 Liberty about a year ago. Met Eric Byler and Annabel Parker. Liked them both.

Roger Ebert just published a review of the film, not yet released in Chicago, although it should be, soon.

Here’s the question to ask yourself: What if all the illegal aliens just left? What if they all left Arizona right now?

Prince William County has been there, and went back. The results were disastrous for the local economy, quality of life. Turns out illegal-aliens were not responsible for more crime in Prince William County. In fact, as the number of illegals grew, crime went down. And when they left, there went the tax base, and legal residents of Prince William County found themselves facing 25% increases in taxes.

So it goes.

From Roger Ebert:

When Prince William experienced a major building boom in the 1990s, a shortage of labor created a demand for workers, which led to an increase in the Latino population. Some of the newcomers were legal immigrants. Some were not. A blogger named Greg Letiecq began to write about his unhappiness with hearing Spanish spoken in public places. Finding an audience, he fomented about rising crime rates, rising taxes to pay for services for the newcomers, overcrowded dwellings, music played too loud, fast driving, and so on. He included Latino crime reports from the local police blotter. He even claimed armed members of the Mexican revolutionary group Zapatistas were moving to Prince William County.

His organization, “Help Save Manassas,” issued saucer-sized red lapel stickers, and soon they were seen around the town. He and Board of Supervisors president Corey A. Stewart created a law that would require local police to stop people for "probable cause" and ask them to show their proof of citizenship. At the time, this measure seemed to have popular support, and there was resentment against a Mexican-American citizen who erected a large sign on his property (at 9500 Liberty St.) to object to it.

About this time, filmmakers Eric Byler and Annabel Park (a Chinese-American and a Korean-American) began to post videos on YouTube that weren’t so much political as the raw material for a documentary. They showed discussions and arguments among local residents, testimony before the county board, Stewart, Letiecq and other pro-law figures and ordinary citizens. As the videos went viral, they inspired another local blog to counter Letiecq and a growing community discussion about the law.

Among the law’s opponents was Charlie T. Deane, the long-serving, widely respected local police chief, who testified the law would cost about $14 million over five years to enforce, who said his officers had more important things to do and who said (along with the county attorney) that without video cameras in every police car, the officers and the county would be open to lawsuits. Cameras would cost another $3.1 million.

Ironically,the law was partly to blame for a tax rate increase of 25% a year. There was another problem. Latinos began to move out of Prince William County or take their business to nearby friendlier areas. There was a retail slump, badly timed to coincide with the collapse of the housing market. As tax-paying “legals” left, the county tax base dropped. Restaurants and shops closed. Prince William County and Virginia have sales taxes, income taxes and other taxes that even non-citizens pay.

Read Ebert’s full review here.

And if you are among those clammoring for laws to protect us from illegals, be carefu what you wish for, my friend.