Alejandro González Iñárritu Says “No Human Should Be Declared or Named ‘Illegal'” for Desiring a Better Life


The day Donald Trump was given an SNL episode that could also be seen, essentially, as a depoliticized, diluted 90 minute campaign ad for the presidential candidate known for his racist immigration policy, Birdman/Babel/Amores Perros/21 Grams/The Revenant director Alejandro González Iñárritu spoke, from the opposite coast, both (without naming names) about Trump’s appearance on SNL and the ways we need to change the rhetoric surrounding immigration.

Iñárritu gave his speech at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where he was being honored as part of their Art + Film gala, which Variety describes as a combination of a “glitterati social schmooze” (guests included event co-chair Leonardo DiCaprio, who recently starred in Inarritu’s The Revenant, Usher, Chloe Sevigny, Dakota Johnson, Jason Statham, Julian Sands, and Gwyneth Paltrow) and a fundraiser for their film programs. Before Inarritu took the stage, legendary light artist and accidental “Hotline Bling” collaborator James Turrell was honored. Iñárritu began his own speech by calling Turrell the “poet of light” and praising LACMA for “making art accessible, fun, and exciting to a diverse society that, before LACMA existed the way it exists today, lacked a point of reunion where every race, age or social class could have and share a space and center.”

From lauding LACMA, he shifted more generally to the power of cinema, noting how it’s “a bridge between the others and us,” and how being a filmmaker has given him the opportunity share “human experiences with different kinds of people, regardless of where we are from.” He says that he’d “debated” whether or not to bring up immigration issues in America during his speech, but the timing made it seem crucial, likely because the night prior, xenophobic sentiment had been “minimized as an SNL sketch, a mere entertainment, a joke.” He said:

If we continue to allow…words to water seeds of hate, and spread inferior thoughts and unwholesome emotions around the world to every human being, not only will millions of Mexicans and Latin American immigrants be in danger, but immigrants around the world now suffering, will share the same dangerous fate. There is no human being who, as a result of desiring to build a better life, should be named or declared illegal, and be dispossessed or considered disposable.

He instead asserted that a better name for people who enter the country without papers would be “Undocumented Dreamers,” because “by naming them that, we can instead start a real and human conversation for a solution, with the most precious, forgotten, and distinguished emotion a human being can have: Compassion.”

Read the full speech, which Iñárritu posted this weekend both in English and in Spanish.