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Hamptons Life

Mar 26, 2012 2:06 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Illegal Immigration: In Pursuit Of The American Dream

Mar 27, 2012 10:26 AM

For locals, the corner of County Road 39 and North Sea Road in Southampton isn’t complete without Tom Wedell—a lone man waving, smiling and toting his “Deport Illegals” sign across the street from an army of immigrant workers, legal and undocumented alike.

Driving by this familiar scene on a daily basis, documentary filmmaker Dennis Michael Lynch never gave it a second thought. But that changed on an autumn day 16 months ago when he was stuck at the corner’s red light with the top off his turquoise Jeep Wrangler, listening to people honk their horns in encouragement at Mr. Wedell or scream out nasty comments from their rolled-down windows.

Then, Neil Diamond’s “America” happened to come on the radio.

“It all just started to connect,” Mr. Lynch, a self-declared “big Neil Diamond fan,” recalled during a telephone interview last week. “Tom Wedell. The 100 guys standing on the opposite corner from him. I thought, ‘I have to see what this guy’s deal is.’ I pull over, and I had my camera guy with me there at the time, and I started BS-ing with Tom. I told the camera guy, ‘Get that thing, turn it on.’”

And so began Mr. Lynch’s most recent documentary, “They Come To America,” which is debuting in an exclusive, one-night screening on Saturday, March 31, at Guild Hall in East Hampton—the same venue for his first movie’s debut, “King of the Hamptons.”

“They Come To America” whittles down more than 100 hours of footage into 100 minutes and focuses on the human and financial costs of illegal immigration, Mr. Lynch said. He added that he’s never seen another film tackle the issue from both sides of the political spectrum.

Over 14 months, Mr. Lynch shot footage with a four-man crew in Arizona, California, Illinois, Florida, Washington, D.C., Colorado and New York. A third of the film takes place in the Hamptons—around both Southampton and East Hampton towns. That action happens inside the home of an illegal family here and even in the filmmaker’s own backyard in East Hampton.

Across the country, the crew covered debates, rallies, events and traveled down to the Mexican border, where they were chased by the drug cartel, Mr. Lynch said. In contrast, politicians ran away from the cameras when pressed with the tough questions, he said.

“My hope was to create a film that Congress would not be able to ignore,” Mr. Lynch said, noting that he independently funded the project. “This is the film that so many people don’t want you to see. This is the sort of film that can spark change.”

From the movie’s beginnings on that street corner in Southampton, Mr. Lynch instantly realized the gravity of one of the hottest political topics in the country: illegal immigration. In just a half hour, the 42-year-old, non-political filmmaker heard some passers-by praise Mr. Wedell as the biggest patriot in America while others called him a racist behind an American flag, he reported.

“Never once, I swear to you on my life, with the things that people say to him and throw at him, did he ever, ever use a curse word,” Mr. Lynch said. “I had people stand in front of him, throw shit at him, say, ‘You f---ing [expletive]. You are an embarrassment to America.’ You know what he’d say? ‘Thank you for sharing your opinion.’ If someone did that to me and threw a cup of coffee on me, the situation wouldn’t have been like that. That guy’s been stabbed, shot and gets death threats all the time.”

Leaving the scene, Mr. Lynch knew illegal immigration had to be the topic of his next project, even though before that day he’d never given a single thought about it. And so, he rounded up and filmed those who had—ranchers, lobbyists, school and hospital administrators, immigration experts, and even the undocumented immigrants holed up in the Hamptons.

“If I was going to make this film, I needed to know what the hell I was talking about,” Mr. Lynch said. “So I found the people who did on both sides of the issue. That was the style I took: go down the middle of this topic and just let the camera tell the story.”

The camera does just that during the crew’s three-day campout on the United States-Mexico border in Arizona.

“We were in the dirt,” Mr. Lynch recalled. “We put ourselves in harm’s way up against the drug cartel. We were warned by police, ‘Do not go down there. We do not go down there.’ We went down there. You cannot describe what is going on with illegal immigration, especially at the border, unless you see it and live it.”

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I would feel more than complete without Mr. Wedel.
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Mar 27, 12 2:41 PM
Your attempt to lionize Mr. Wedell is a joke. He is well known for harassing people on a daily basis. Neil Diamond?
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Mar 27, 12 2:44 PM
Thank you Mr. Lynch for your contribution to our Freedom of Speech.

Mr. Wedell has highlighted an important issue for us, and for years I have admired his tenacity in all kinds of weather.

Hopefully, additional comments here will not focus on how "right" or "wrong" Mr. Wedell's efforts are.

To polarize issues like this into "right or wrong" -- it seems to me -- misses the point. Rather, it is our willingness to discuss things openly and fairly, without anger, which marks ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Mar 27, 12 3:10 PM
6 members liked this comment
Why do we give the "employer who hires an undocumented worker" a free pass? Let's face it, if they are not hired, they will not be here.
It is time that the employers who hire the undocumented step up and be held accountable on this issue.
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Mar 27, 12 8:00 PM

I have seen this man and find him disgusting. He should really get a life and stop trying to spread hate. You will meet your maker one day - you are not better than
anyone else.
By watermillluvr1 (11), watermill on Mar 27, 12 9:06 PM
1 member liked this comment
AmericanHole, Thank you for confirming that there is not limit to stupidity and hypocrisy - "assuming this is your country"? I am as sure that matermilluvr can no more lay claim to owning America than you can.
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Mar 28, 12 10:59 AM
Maybe you don't see the hypocrisy in your post. He has a right to his opinion, especially since he is a tax paying citizen who has constitutionally protected free speech. I don't hate the illegals. I know why they want to come here. But they are criminals and should be deported.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Mar 31, 12 11:53 AM
They break any law that stands in their way? I find them to be more trustworthy and harder workers than half the other labor anywhere out here. They also drive more safely and are generally more respectful. The only law they don't respect is entering our country to look for work. And that law is questionable - the jobs are there and we need people to do them for wages low enough to pay.

"What is not hate about them coming to this country" ?
That the love this country as much ...more
By milkdilk (49), Southampton on Apr 5, 12 9:21 AM
Spreading hate are you kidding me? You have people in this country illegally who decided not to wait on line and just jump the border. You don't know if they are criminals or not, and they pay no taxes and steal services. Wake up they are stealing from you!
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Mar 27, 12 9:20 PM
Charity begins at home. There are so many Americans who need help in so many ways. Meanwhile to enter this Country without the proper documents is a crime. Every illegal alien is a criminal. To hire an illegal alien without a Social Security card is illegal. Every company that hires illegals is committing a crime. They are also not paying taxes which means Americans must pay. Every illegal's school age child costs the taxpayer about 25.000 a year. Every illegal couple that have a child (paid for ...more
By TianaBob (256), S.Jamesport on Mar 29, 12 10:13 AM
1 member liked this comment
If we repealed the "jus soli" clause, or amended it to require at least ONE parent be a citizen of this country for a child born on American soil to be a citizen, things would change quite a bit.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Mar 30, 12 5:43 PM
1 member liked this comment
The basis of this issue is the all-powerful mighty dollar. Workers migrate here for work and are hired by companies to increase revenue with cheap labor. The pursuit of money is a vastly powerful and unstoppable force that will not be deterred by any means short of firing lines and certainly not by some dude with a mullet holding a sign while waving at passing cars as if he is the homecoming queen. The problem then is the law, lawmakers and society conforming and accepting this inescapable presence ...more
By Moneybogue (37), Westhampton Beach on Mar 29, 12 1:39 PM
"I know many illegal immigrants personally through jobs around the Hamptons and in my personal life and I have found these people to be OUTSTANDING members of our community who deserve the same rights and privileges that my great grandfather had migrating to this country."

Be that as it may, they are still here ILLEGALLY.
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Mar 30, 12 8:01 AM
3 members liked this comment
It is a slap in the face to those who "did it right" worked hard, learned English, and took the oath to become citizens. For these "OUTSTANDING" people to do what they do, and be here it is FOUL, and flies in the face of all those who went through with the process, as well as respected and obeyed our laws.

For reference, my father is one of those they slap across the face with their impunity.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Mar 30, 12 5:48 PM
Google Operation Wetback (USA term) Ike in 1954 kicked about one million illegal aliens out of the Country. He used about one thousand Border Patrol Agents and local Police. This administration enables illegals. What a shame. Our taxes going for criminal illegals
By TianaBob (256), S.Jamesport on Apr 6, 12 9:47 PM
I've said it before, and I'll say it over, and over until it is done:


That should put an end to this B.S. REAL quick.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Mar 29, 12 5:09 PM
Careful ! Better make sure little Barry was not born were his grandma claims before you go and do that.
Philip J. Berg, attorney general for Penn. stated that he has two affidavits and a taped phone call from obama’s grandma affirming she was in the delivery room in Kenya when he was born Aug. 4, 1961. Berg said he’s pursuing the issue because of “the most important document in the United States,” the U.S. Constitution.
By They call me (2826), southampton on Apr 2, 12 9:07 PM
Does the phrase "ex post facto" ring a bell for you?


Not surprising...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Apr 3, 12 5:20 PM
How about they migrate to this country LEGALLY and pay taxes like the rest of us. Its about time that American Citizens stand up and Take a stand for their country and STOP allowing illegal immigrant to take all of our benefits away. Get real people and open your mouths in objection to this crime!
By Hillsnbells (43), Southampton on Mar 30, 12 3:22 PM
1 member liked this comment
What's so difficult to understand about the term "illegal"? Anyone who has entered our country without proper ducumentation has comitted an illegal act and is a criminal! So simple even a Leftist should be able to grasp the concept. There should be a process in place to weed out the invaders, every time one surfaces in the system, be it the ER, police interaction, school registration, Western Union Office, they should be arrested and deported. Pay for this by deducting the expenses from any foreign ...more
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Apr 2, 12 7:15 AM
Everybody should make the effort not to employ illegals. Start by using your local landscape service which is documented and pays US taxes. Don't pick up illegals at your 7/11.
By local12 (34), Remsenburg on Apr 2, 12 8:33 AM
2 members liked this comment
We should have a national guest worker program because clearly there's a need for these people. Check who your local landscaper, roofer, builder, painter, etc. hires to work at your house. Chances are good that some are illegal. While you're at it, check who's being hired to do the prep-work in the back rooms and basements of area restaurants, many of them can only speak Spanish. Using illegal labor has become a way of life for many businesses.
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Apr 2, 12 2:52 PM
I have said it before but here goes. You can not punish someone for a crime now.... if you have been turning a blind eye to it since they got here, 20 years ago.The way I see it the lib-tards have a big problem. On one hand they desperately need the Hispanic vote.on the other hand the blacks and unions want them deported.( Seems they work too hard and are making them look bad)
By joe hampton (3461), south hampton on Apr 2, 12 8:48 PM
I have observed if these hard working folks are not working they are in the laundry or church. I say lets send Richard Trumpka, Andy Stern, Van Jones and the rest of the AFL-CIO & SEIU to Mexico and keep the Latinos. They are hard working Cristian people with better values and will work hard to become proud American citizens.
By joe hampton (3461), south hampton on Apr 2, 12 8:49 PM
You are not well!
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Apr 2, 12 8:54 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By joe hampton (3461), south hampton on Apr 3, 12 3:51 AM
Editorial dept please put my last comment back. It was well thought out and not meant the way you are taking it. By removing that comment you make me look like a raciest. It was a fair review of facts and past events nothing more.so I request out of fairness you repost it please.
By joe hampton (3461), south hampton on Apr 3, 12 12:51 PM
Sorry I missed it.

On occasion, I do "copy and paste" a potentially controversial post to a WordPad document. It doesn't take up much space on the ol' HDD, and it grants to opportunity to edit.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Apr 3, 12 3:19 PM
Joe hampton says he is not racist? what other jokes does he have up his sleeve?
And tell me Joe, just how many really truely local trades people have you hired lately? If you do not know any local folks try asking at the Historical Societies of the East End for names. They can give you really truely local surnames then you and all will be able to hire hard working locals.
By summertime (589), summerfield fl on Apr 3, 12 3:37 PM
Joe Hampton is the poster child of ignorant racism. He can say what he wants, but his words speak for themselves.
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Apr 3, 12 3:56 PM
The Federal Government and local Police turn their backs on illegal immigrants. So you have thousands of people who are undocumented. Crimes are committed,you have no fingerprints,photos,addresses,family etc. to go on. The criminal can just go to another area and commit more crime. Employers who hire illegals are committing a crime.We need all the tax money we deserve. No more working off the books.
By TianaBob (256), S.Jamesport on Apr 3, 12 5:56 PM
Good point T Bob To all those who may use the services of the big landscaping company with the yellow trucks: Any idea how many of those workers are here legally? Sure you want them roaming your property??!! Ask to see the documentation on every one of them before they step one foot onto your property.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Apr 5, 12 7:11 AM
your papers are NOT in order!!!
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Apr 6, 12 6:56 AM
Comparing the verification of resident status to Nazism is quite a stretch really displays that you have no argument.
Does the USA have immigration laws?
Does the USA have labor laws?
Should the Fed Govt enforce it's own laws?
If the Fed govt fails should the states enforce immigration laws as to protect the citizens?
Are you for open borders?
Are said open borders restricted to Latinos?
Should we let people from Yemen, Syria, Iran, Libya or anywhere else enter the country ...more
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on Apr 6, 12 9:46 AM
Google the story about the 13 year old kid from Kansas City that was lit on fire then we can talk about random acts of violence based on race. Your example did nothing to answer my questions above, nor is it applicable to this topic as it has nothing to do with illegal immigration.
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on Apr 6, 12 10:05 AM
Yet you ignore the questions about our laws. You are finding the narrowest paths to reach and end. If you answer my questions above in an honest way you will see that your argument collapses. I saw law and you say race. When the law doesn't fit into your belief set you say "Seig Heil."
Your weak argument is crumbling.
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on Apr 6, 12 10:25 AM
Sure, sure. By "us" do mean the voices in your head?
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on Apr 6, 12 11:05 AM
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on Apr 6, 12 11:15 AM
I can tell you this: the people hiring the illegals are most certainly republicans, and small business owners. I can also tell you this: we need them. They are the most skilled, hardest working, and most trustworthy work force on the east end. All the tradesmen who did work here for the last 50 years worked hard to build giant houses for the rich city folk who moved in. The contractors and landscapers and everyone else involved in the process spoiled their kids and drank too much and probably ...more
By milkdilk (49), Southampton on Apr 5, 12 9:37 AM
Trustworthy? Don't you see how Mexicans behave against each other in Mexico? They are chopping off heads! Police are on the take and Mayors are ruled by druglords. We have enough problems without allowing more criminals to stroll across our borders
By TianaBob (256), S.Jamesport on Apr 5, 12 11:28 AM
Hey milkdilk-
Were you born stupid or did you have to work at it?
Sounds like you hire illegals or are one
Trustworthy? Most skilled? Respectful? Best drivers?
First off,you don't know who they are or where there from...criminals from all over central america are standing at the corner
How many children have been raped or molested by illegals out here the past 15 years
How many dwi's and hit and runs by drunk illegals...ever play chicken with a landscaping truck?
Murders? ...more
By Kaiser Sozay (31), east end on Apr 6, 12 2:03 AM
2 members liked this comment
And this is my #1 problem with illegal immigrants... we have no way of knowing the hard working family man from the criminal. When a crime is committed it is awfully hard to find a ghost. What good is something like Megan's Law if we have God knows how many houses in our towns filled w/ illegals? Which ones are the good guys and which ones are the bad guys? Impossible to tell.
To add to this mess we have the Obama admin attacking the states that are trying to enforce immigration laws. Why? ...more
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on Apr 6, 12 9:04 AM
1 member liked this comment
Example please.
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on Apr 6, 12 10:07 AM
Correct. Yet documented bad guys are easier to monitor and/or alert neighbors of their crimes than that of undocumented. Undocumented can be Latino, Italian, Irish or otherwise.
To your first part, do we have 20 million undocumented Canadians in the USA? If that is the case then I have been missing something.
What other laws do we get to ignore? Or do only some people get to ignore some laws? So it's really not me that's profiling as much as it is you.
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on Apr 6, 12 10:17 AM
I'd love to know how my comment shows any evidence of racial profiling. If I said all these homes are filled with bad guys then you'd have an argument.
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on Apr 6, 12 10:21 AM
Nope. My statement shows zero evidence of prejudice. You claim it does to make an argument, yet that doesn't make it so. I really don't care how you see the right or whatever delusions you are having about how this evil right sees others. If life held only 2 baskets to fit all of those who are like you and those who are not then things might be so simple. In other words, you can't disagree without attaching a radical label on someone, even when that label is inaccurate and ridiculous. Thanks for ...more
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on Apr 6, 12 10:45 AM
Uh... if only I had said that. Phil, arguments are best made when there you have some facts to point out. You make stuff up, assume it to be fact, argue on behalf of that made up fact. You do it all the time. It's funny.
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on Apr 6, 12 11:03 AM
Phil, if that's how you connect things then that's just dandy. To argue something that you can't see is nothing but a waste of effort. If you need to do that in order to feel good then have at it. I'll let anyone else who decides to read these posts judge for themselves.
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on Apr 6, 12 11:14 AM
But it doesn't give someone the right to go hands on as it appears Martin did. You appear Phil to have latched on to the rush to judgement sensation along with the dishonest portrayal by the media and Al Sharpton.

Martin picked the wrong state and the wrong person to assault and it cost him dearly. I'm confident that the grand jury will review the evidence and take whatever action is appropriate.
By Mr. Snerdley (397), Southampton on Apr 6, 12 11:30 AM
I'll leave everything as posted above;I didn't make the comment equating immigrants to child molesters,kidnappers and murderers.
You did.
Like Reply Report as inappropriate
By philathome (2138), Southampton on Apr 6, 12 11:42 AM


Nor did I. However you did equate verifying proof of citizenship with Nazism. That is 100% verifiable by scrolling up a bit. Your conclusions about what I wrote are nothing more than you either trying to change the subject, defend you ...more
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on Apr 6, 12 12:04 PM
Double standard, you are a racist. Period. Your words speak for themselves
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Apr 6, 12 12:59 PM
Progress Now please provide an example.
Also, please answer the following

Does the USA have immigration laws?
Does the USA have labor laws?
Should the Fed Govt enforce it's own laws?
If the Fed govt fails should the states enforce immigration laws as to protect the citizens?
Are you for open borders?
Are said open borders restricted to Latinos?
Should we let people from Yemen, Syria, Iran, Libya or anywhere else enter the country unchecked because they are seeking ...more
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on Apr 6, 12 1:08 PM
While you are busy calling me a racist can you defend Philathome's Sieg Heil post? He was unable to answer the questions or defend his post. Perhaps you can assist.
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on Apr 6, 12 1:10 PM
Of course. We are ever so close to Nazism in this country. Last week you said that people will be jumping to their deaths to get away from work. This place we live in, scary, horrible, awful. The horror. The horror.
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on Apr 6, 12 4:48 PM
27East, a haven for segregation era racism, bigotry and stupidity.
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Apr 6, 12 2:01 PM
And the topic is... Illegal Immigration.
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on Apr 6, 12 4:46 PM

Phil: Whats wrong with an alien in our country carrying proof that he or she is here legally? Obviously you have never traveled abroad, almost every country I've visited REQUIRES any non citivzen to carry their passport to present to the authorities when asked, no problems with that.

Your sieg heil post is just another example of the lunatic fringes' hate.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Apr 6, 12 4:48 PM
Why did you ignore BF's question? Why do ignore every question that is based on reality and not a fairytale?
Phil, Progress, and PF... please, please, please show us these blatant examples of racism that you cry about. Please, please, please answer my series of questions above. I want to see what you have other than throwing the race card around. I'll help you... you don't have anything but an ideology with no legal basis at all. You want a group of people (in this case Latinos) to have their ...more
By double standard (1506), Remsenburg on Apr 6, 12 7:33 PM
Would somebody please look up race, and I don't mean at Riverhead Raceway.
Also start reading the police reports in the Southampton press before you put it in your canary cage.
By Tommy Turbo (60), Deep River, CT on Apr 6, 12 5:46 PM
Flanders is part of Southampton.Why not take a look at the crimes illegals commit there. Shootings,stabbings,assaults are commonplace. One illegal attacked another with a baseball bat by the Valero station at the Circle. Then their is the illegal drunken driving.No insurance or proper registration.Hope that they don't hit you. When they mention it in the papers they never say they are illegals
By TianaBob (256), S.Jamesport on Apr 6, 12 10:15 PM
The lack of enforcement of the immigration laws for the past few decades has had IMO the goal of making businesses (who need cheap labor) more PROFITABLE.

Greed poisons.

Fiddle Fiddle Fiddle.
By Nero (301), Sag Harbor on Apr 11, 12 6:47 PM