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Max Kennedy and the American Dream on JMAN.tv - The Best Documentaries... Instantly On Demand

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Max Kennedy and the American Dream Length: 54mins
Published: 24 Aug, 2011
Max Kennedy is a Minuteman, one of the many American vigilantes who patrol the border with Mexico. Hunting down illegal immigrants, the Minutemen live a gritty existence in the desert, believing they are on the frontline of a war to save their country. Yet within Max lies a conflict; he sympathizes with the Mexicans, who he feels are destroying his country. Casting a penetrating light on the US-Mexico border issue, Max’s story is a telling insight into human trafficking, first-world poverty and right-wing hate politics.

“Normally what they do if they’re going to lose these ID cards, they melt their picture”, Max says, kneeling in the dust amidst the dried out bushes, his rifle across his knee, cradling an ID card in his hand. “Because when I give this to the border patrol, they’re gonna know you’re in this country illegally and they’re gonna be looking for you.” Every day large numbers of Mexicans travel this route on the way to their new lives in the United States. While he has sympathy for the Mexicans crossing the border, Max feels that keeping them out is what is right for his country: “I know how much they have to deal with over there. It's nonsense. But, on the other hand, it's polluting my society”.

Many Americans who live on the border feel the same way; while there is sympathy, the underlying feeling is that they are suffering because the immigrants aren’t following the correct legal channels. “We’re all immigrants. But there’s a process. There’s only so much the United States can accept without severe economic consequences,” Max suggests.

Enrique Morones is on the other side of the debate. He is a founder of ‘Border Angels’, which protects the rights of those trying to cross the border. He sees the equation differently: “Remember that the undocumented community is contributing billions to this country. Billions.”

This may be part of the reason the border remains so porous, but Max feels that is it people like him who suffer and that his past bears that out. “I lived in a fairly nice community. Then they started showing up. My company got rid of us because they could get cheap labour.” As Enrique points out, the Minutemen are hardly an effective force: “in more than two years they’ve stopped less than a hundred people”. They are representative of some of the poorest Americans and they’re fighting a Mexican populace with no choice but to flee to the US. “If it doesn't go well and we don't make it over... well, we'll try again. There's no other solution”, says one deportee. He, like the others, will risk starvation and death on the crossing to reach freedom.

Leaving the border after a straight 15 months there, Max is worn out. But he also has a sense of satisfaction; from helping his country, but also those he was trying to stop. "I'm proud because I've helped more Mexicans than I've harmed". Yet the reality is that the future for both the Minutemen and the illegal immigrants is looking bleak. The civilisation Max returns to is still an unforgiving world, for both him and the immigrants.

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