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Michael Evangelista-Ysasaga, a Mexican-American, heads up the PennaGroup, a Latino-owned U.S. military and government contracting firm creating a design proposal for President Trump's controversial border wall. A long time immigration reform advocate, Evangelista-Ysasaga views the proposed wall as an inevitable reality.

His firm's submission is in response to a request by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for proposals. One in 10 firms bidding for the 1,000 mile, $21 billion CBP project are Latino-owned.

According to Evangelista-Ysasaga, the decision was made after much soul-searching and in response to disturbing design option rumors, including lethal ones.  The PennaGroup's design , while catering to CBP's basic demands, is structured to be more humane and to take into account wildlife, ecology and hydrology.


65 Foot high toddler peers across Mexico/U.S. wall

On the day Donald Trump announced the end of the DACA program, a giant cut-out of a Mexican toddler peeked out over the steel wall separating the U.S. and Mexico. The giant cut-out was erected in a remote section of the wall near the Tecate border crossing, 40 miles southeast of San Diego.

Designed by JR, a French artist, the large-scale portrait is part of his "Ellis Islands of Today" project, and was meant to prompt discussion of immigration. The piece will remain in Tecate for a month.


Crossing the Border? Snap A Selfie

Migrants brave a punishing and fiercely guarded landscape, and now they are sharing their struggles with the world. Facebook posts and twitter feeds allow travelers to update their loved ones left behind. The incredible dangers and discomforts along the way are often belied by the universal posturing of youthful selfies. Well coiffed hair, sly grins, and peace signs show normal kids, normal people, in unbelievable  circumstances. Watch the video below of a woman trying, and failing to cross the desert expanse along the border.  Find out more at Fusion.

This woman shot a selfie video earlier this year while crossing the desert in Mexico en route to the U.S.

All the Grit, None of the Glam: 10 Tips for a Micro-Budget Film

"The Big Ask"

How do you produce a killer feature film on a micro-budget?  Jennifer Westin gives 10 tips on Indiewire.  

1.  Have a crazy good script that is meant for micro - This means skipping out on big budget special effects and zooming in on human quirks and story telling.  

2.  Live where you shoot - Assigning a "home base" for most of the shoot eliminates all that pesky travel and set up time.  

3.  But you've gotta get out - Make sure to shoot in a few different locations, or as many as possible within reason.  Otherwise the budget will drive the film and could kill the story.

4.  Shoot in stores during business hours - You won't have to pay for lost business revenue and you never know what the ambiance might add to the scene.  It's a good idea to get permission first.

5.  Get a great cast - A well-known, well-loved does it's marketing for you.  

6.  Make it look real - Today's low cost, high quality camera make it possible for a polished feel on a dime.  Make it look like a movie.

7.  Hire micro-savvy cast and crew - Having creative workers on set used to considering budget constraints will help the process run smoothly.  If you must splurge, splurge on sound.  

8.  Figure out how you and your crew will pay personal bills -  Filmmaking takes time and personal finances are important.

9.  Know what to outsource - Budget filmmakers are DIY but it's important to hire experts when necessary, like a lawyer.

10.  Keep enough cash for the release - Setting a little money aside for marketing, festival application, or promotion traveling costs for your casts can go a long way.

One last tip:  Hire folks you enjoy working with.  Life is short and a profit is never guaranteed. 

Purgatorio: A Gritty Tour of the Borderlands

Purgatorio, a documentary film by Rodrigo Reyes, explores the harsh but beautiful landscapes of the borderlands, and the even harsher emigration dramas unfolding in their dusty expanses. Opening this Friday, October 3rdin New York's Cinema Village. Not planning a trip to the big city?  Check out the official trailer below and read more here:

AK-47s, Accordions And Angels Of Death: Narcocorridos Hit The Big Screen

"The documentary Narco Cultura paints a sobering picture from both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border in a drug war that has claimed more than 60,000 victims in the past seven years. The film cuts back and forth between gruesome murders in Mexico and the culture of narcocorridos — ballads that revel in the exploits of drug cartels." More about this documentary here:

Know Your Hollywood Gangsters

See if you can match the "top ten" actors to the real life gangsters portrayed in the movies.

1) Ray Liotta 2) Sean Penn 3) Denzel Washington 4) Robert De Niro 5) Daniel Day Lewis 6) Tim Roth 7) Warren Beatty 8) Al Pacino 9) Jack Nicholson and 10) Robert De Niro - a repeat!

a) Al Capone in "The Untouchables" b) Henry Hill in "Goodfellas" c) d) Mickey Cohen in "Gangster Squad" d) Dutch Shultz in "Hoodlum" e) Jimmy Hoffa in "Hoffa" d) Benjamin "Lefty" Ruggiero in "Donnie Brasco" e) Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel in "Bugsy" f) Bill "The Butcher" Cutting in "Gangs of New York" g) Sam "Ace" Rothstein in "Casino" and h) Frank Lucas in "American Gangster".

Find your answers here:


Crisis on the Border: Unaccompanied Child Migrants

A child in Mexico at the U.S.-Mexico border fence looks into Nogales, Arizona.

A child in Mexico at the U.S.-Mexico border fence looks into Nogales, Arizona.

Unaccompanied child immigrants have stirred up dramatic emotions in the US public. The BBC reports that according to the US Department of Homeland Security, 52,000 unaccompanied children have been apprehended since October. And WBUR revealed that border patrol agents are finding children as young as 4, with notes pinned on their clothing with instructions on how to contact relatives in the U.S. What to do with these kids?

    Two young girls watch a World Cup football match on TV from their holding area while others sleep.


Two young girls watch a World Cup football match on TV from their holding area while others sleep.

Protesters from opposing sides demonstrate outside a US Border Patrol station in California on 4 July 2014.

Protesters from opposing sides demonstrate outside a US Border Patrol station in California on 4 July 2014.