An uplifting film about four scrappy, Mexican teens who turned the tables on fate by winning a prestigious robotics design competition underscores the exact opportunities Sen. Richard J. Durbin has fought to provide for undocumented immigrants over the past decade, according to the Illinois Democrat.
The movie, "Spare Parts,” chronicles the mind-blowing journey Oscar Vazquez and his high school pals — a rag-tag group of grossly underfunded, would-be engineers — experienced after taking it upon themselves to enter a NASA-sponsored contest to build an underwater rover. “This is something that a lot of people should know about. Not because they’re Latino. But because they’re underdogs,” supporting actor Esai Morales said in a behind-the-scenes peek at the empowering production.
Per Durbin, lawmakers could stand to learn a bit about overcoming adversity from the determined youths.
“It’s not often that the things we do, that the political issues we deal with really are described to us in detail, that they hit home. And this did,” said Durbin, whose office assisted Vazquez with returning to the U.S. after he’d self-deported to Mexico.
“Oscar was sitting next to me. And at the end of this movie, we both had tears in our eyes,” Durbin told HOH. “The story of his life is an inspiration. And it’s a reminder that this nation of immigrants, this America, should always remember its roots.”
At the E Street Cinema screening supported by the Center for American Progress (the film opens nationwide Friday), Durbin thanked Joe Zogby, his immigration point man on the Judiciary Committee, for working tirelessly on the quixotic citizenship issue.
“Joe Zogby has dedicated his time in my Senate career helping people just like Oscar,” Durbin told HOH.
He also assured the pro-immigrant crowd in attendance that even though Republicans now control all of Congress, he’s not done fighting for the polarizing DREAM Act.
“It’s passed the Senate. And it’s passed the House. But never at the same time … so we still have a battle before us,” Durbin said of the political football that's been bouncing between the two chambers for years.
Actor/producer George Lopez was all smiles while chatting about the film.
“Thank you, senator, for everything,” he told Durbin during a promotional photo.
When the seasoned pol brought up being compensated for his brief screen time — “Am I supposed to get paid for this?” Durbin wondered aloud — Lopez taught him a little lesson in Tinsel Townomics.
“This falls under cameo,” the quick-thinking comedian quipped.
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