HOW DEMOCRACY WORKS NOW
The Game is On
Summer, 2001: Secret negotiations between the governments of the US and Mexico break into front page news, igniting a national debate on the overhaul of the US immigration system that reflects the country's split over the issue. Advocates see the pro-reform perspective shared by President Bush and Senators Ted Kennedy and Sam Brownback as an incredible alignment of the stars. Then 9/11 attacks shatter any hope of comprehensive reform. But around the country, the issue resurfaces in November's local elections. In a heated city council race in Iowa, we discover the seeds of the battle to come. Filmed in Washington D.C., Iowa. 90 MIN
Mountains and Clouds
Spring 2002: Kennedy and Brownback have rejoined forces, though security is now the focus. Their Border Security Bill must come before immigration reform but there's a mysterious hold-up in the Senate. Finally it's revealed a single Senator is at the bottom of the delay—Appropriations Chairman Robert Byrd, Kennedy's longest-serving and most feared colleague. Meanwhile, the White House proposes a small, immigrant-friendly provision be added to the stalled Border Security Bill. This unexpected detour creates more trouble every day it lasts. But to unlock the deadlock, what does Senator Byrd want? Filmed in Washington, D.C. & Kansas.
SAM IN THE SNOW
Summer 2002: The Border Security Bill is now law. Kennedy, Brownback, andstaffers Esther and David are eager to move on immigration, but the fight over creation of a Department of Homeland Security eats up the summer. Once Republicans take the Senate in November midterms, Senator Brownback goes into "cycle" with his own re-election campaign. Committee choices for the next Congress loom, and immigration is not playing well in Kansas. Will one of the Senate's most compassionate advocates decide to give up the Judiciary Committee and his upcoming chairmanship of the Immigration Sub-committee? Filmed in Washington D.C., Kansas and Minnesota.
THE KIDS ACROSS THE HILL
Winter, 2003: As the new Congress begins, a lot of people have ideas about an immigration bill. For pro-immigration advocates, the best bet remains Kennedy's plan. Across the Hill in the House, young staffers for two Republican congressmen from Arizona, Jim Kolbe and Jeff Flake, are quietly crafting something that sounds very different—a revolutionary guestworker bill with a path to citizenship. Esther's not too worried as long as their bill is Republican-only, but once her rivals begin courting a Democrat, the race is on. Suddenly Esther's got a crisis on her hands.