Tom Wedell has been stabbed, shot at with a pellet gun, and twice arrested while protesting illegal immigration at the corner of a 7-Eleven in Southampton, New York. Almost every day for the last eight years, the out-of-work roofer has stood at the busy intersection armed with nothing more than an American flag and a sign that reads, “Deport Illegals.”
His protest is directed at the hundreds of undocumented workers across the street looking for day labor. “He lost everything because these guys came around,” grassroots filmmaker Dennis Michael Lynch tells Townhall.
For years, Lynch passed by the resident protester without paying much attention. But one day while stopped at the light, Neil Diamond’s song, “America” started playing. The lyrics suddenly made him look at the situation differently, so he stopped, grabbed his camera, and 30 minutes later had just filmed the beginning of a new documentary, “They Come to America.”
Until that day Lynch could care less about illegal immigration. He knew nothing about the subject, wasn’t political at all, and hadn’t even voted in 20 years.
“Had you told me you were part of a tea party, I would have told you I was part of a keg party,” he says with a laugh.
Lynch’s career took an unexpected turn in 2001, which helped set him on a path to become a filmmaker, and ultimately one that’s trying to make a difference.
He was a very successful entrepreneur and businessman, and by the age of 31, had already sold his computer company and opened up a Park Avenue-based consulting firm with John Sculley, the former CEO of Apple. “Everything was perfect,” he recalls—until the morning of September 11, when Lynch was down at the World Trade Center.
“I’m one of the people you see running from the buildings,” he says. “When you see people jump from 80 stories high it sort of changes your life. And so I decided I was going to start doing what I love ... filmmaking was always my passion.”
But it was seeing Wedell standing on the corner near the 7-Eleven that day that really launched him into filmmaking with a purpose, pursuing issues like illegal immigration and liberal media bias.
“Instead of making big money and fictional movies, I’d rather try to make a difference,” he explains.
And that’s exactly what he’s doing—telling the truth about an issue politicians on both sides of the aisle often run from. And to Lynch, the truth is that illegal immigration is the biggest problem our nation faces in the years to come.
From job seekers and educators to business owners and ranchers, Lynch features everyday citizens across the U.S. in his documentaries, each of whom are dealing with the problem of illegal immigration in different aspects of their lives. He even spent more time on the border than probably all of our lawmakers combined—risking his life on several occasions to get a first-hand look at how secure our borders really are.
Signs the federal government has posted on U.S. soil warning passersby that they’re entering an active drug and human smuggling area is a good indication that our borders aren’t very secure at all.
Another sign Lynch came across, also courtesy of U.S. taxpayers, is a call-for- help box written in English, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese—the latter proving that illegal immigration is not a race issue, but one of national security.
While it’s true that day laborers weren’t involved in the September 11 attacks, terrorists are crossing through the same points of entry. In the Rio Grande Valley Sector alone, Customs and Border Protection data shows nearly 50,000 “Other Than Mexicans,” were caught in Fiscal Year 2012, which includes “Special Interest Aliens,” or those coming from countries that support or harbor Islamist terrorists. In fact, Qurans and Islamic prayers rugs are commonly found along the border, and in 2010, Texas border patrol agents discovered Iranian currency and an Arabic clothing patch with the words “martyr” and “way to immortality.”
Lynch believes the problem isn’t the illegal immigrants per se, but rather the policies officials and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle make, which he explains are influenced by the “all-mighty vote and the all-mighty cheap labor.”
“Unfortunately we’re a country that learns all of its lessons the hard way,” he says, adding that politicians will only stand up for the rule of law again when the American people have finally had enough.
But right now, Americans are laser-focused on Obamacare, which he admits is bad, but can also be repealed. Amnesty cannot be reversed, however. And unless the Republican, conservative party finds its voice again, Lynch is 100 percent convinced amnesty will happen under President Obama.
“First of all we don’t have 11 million people [here illegally], it’s 20 million or more. If you go back to the Reagan days, he thought there’d be a million, it was almost 4 million, so history repeats itself,” he says, pointing to three things that will happen if amnesty is granted.
“One, the American worker is going to get crushed,” he says emphatically, because the illegal immigrants already here will start bringing in other people through chain migration.
“Two, you’re going to have a one-party system and that doesn’t work for anybody, even if you’re a Democrat. And three, national security. ... How are we gonna do background checks on 20-30 million people? ... They’re gonna be rubber stamped and were gonna be giving legal documents to people who we have no idea who the hell they are.”
Yet voters consistently rank illegal immigration as among the least of their concerns in polling. “This is why Atlantic City and Las Vegas always win. They always win because the public is always wrong,” he says.
And the public is always wrong because the mainstream media never report on the issue the right way, Lynch explains. Thus, they don’t understand how illegal immigration is affecting our nation’s schools, national security, jobs, the economy, and crime. In North Carolina alone, for example, there were more than 101 confirmed and highly probable illegal aliens who have been charged with raping a child in a two and a half month period at the end of 2013, according to a North Carolinians for Immigration Reform and Enforcement report. And unemployment is even suspected to be lower among illegal immigrants in the U.S. than for our nation’s black citizens.
Lynch may have been politically naive when set out on this journey, but it didn’t take long for him to realize Hollywood and the media are unscrupulously liberal. “They Come to America” was rejected by 30 film festivals—including in states where illegal immigration runs rampant—Hollywood distributors ignored him, and a digital distributor pulled a contract from him so his film could not be available on Netflix, cable video on demand services, or iTunes before the 2012 election.
“I reached out to somebody who’s in my first film ... he’s a Hollywood guy, and he came back and said ‘Your film’s never gonna go anywhere because it’s from a [right-leaning] perspective,’” Lynch recalls. “And I said, ‘Really? I thought I took the middle road. I’m not a registered anything. I just turn my camera on.’ And ultimately he said, ‘It doesn’t matter, it’s something you’d see on Fox.’”
It’s this type of liberal media bias that his new film “We Ride to DC” features. As Lynch traveled the country promoting “They Come to America II,” people were turning out in droves and they asked him to attend and speak at different events. He agreed, and when he went to the events, there’d be thousands of people there but the mainstream media was nowhere to be found. By not reporting the facts and ignoring important stories, the mainstream media is doing a huge disservice to the public. Lynch, however, is doing all he can to ensure the American people are told the truth—about all issues.
“I’m out there right now doing what I’m doing, not because I’m becoming a Hollywood star, not because I’m making a million dollars—I was making a lot more money in business than I am giving away free DVDs. I’m doing it for my kids because I see what’s coming ahead and it’s bad,” he says.
Despite what protesters say, Lynch loves all people regardless of race, creed, or color. “But at the end of the day,” he says, “my feeling is Americans first and everybody else second.” •
Editor's note: This article first appeared in the May issue of Townhall Magazine.