“Illegal, the Project” documentary to showcase local immigration story

Ashland, Ore — The national debate over immigration continues to be one of the most divisive topics in America. For one local businessman, the issue is much more personal.

“I certainly see myself not only as a person that’s under attack, but I also see myself as one of these individuals that was at the border today because I was there myself at one time,” said Laz Ayala.

Ayala is a Rogue Valley businessman and has a story to tell that’s both unique, yet all too familiar to those seeking a better life.

“Stories, my story being one, and the stories of others that have come to this country fleeing war like I did or persecution of one kind of another,” said Ayala.

At 14, Ayala entered the United States an undocumented immigrant in the trunk of a car. 37 years later he’s a naturalized citizen with a story to tell, and a film crew to help him tell it.

“I told him, hey your story has potential to become a movie, it’s that powerful and poignant,” said Nickolas Alexander, the documentary’s director.

That’s the idea behind “Illegal, the project”, a documentary focused on immigration, using Ayala as it’s guide.

“It’s around the idea of educating the public about the topic of immigration, humanizing the topic through stories, my story being one and the stories of others,” said Ayala.

The documentary crew left Friday. They’ll follow Ayala to his native El Salvador, then to Tijuana, where the immigration debate rages.

“We will be arriving there around the time a lot of the families and individuals will be arriving so we hope to capture their stories,” said Ayala.

Ayala hopes “Illegal, the Project”, won’t just add to the narrative, but change it, so a real conversation about immigration can begin.

“Hopefully expose some myths, some facts about the narrative we hear today, about what undocumented immigration is and what it isn’t,” said Ayala.

The “Illegal, the Project” crew will be filming over the next 2 weeks.

You can follow their progress on social media, @illegal.theproject on Instagram and Illegal_Project on Twitter or the website https://www.illegaltheproject.org/

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Matt Jordan is the Chief Meteorologist for KOBI-TV NBC5. Matt joined the NBC5 weather team in 2014 after a year as a reporter and anchor in Alexandria, Louisiana. His experience with the severe weather of the Deep South and a love of the Pacific Northwest led him to pursue a certification with Mississippi State University as a Broadcast Meteorologist. You can find Matt working in the evenings of NBC5 News at 5, 6 and 11 as well as online. Matt also has a degree in Journalism from the University of Oregon. In addition to being passionate about news and weather, Matt is a BIG Oregon Ducks fan. When not rooting for the Ducks or tracking down the next storm over the Pacific, Matt can be found outdoors in the Oregon wilderness with his wife, his daughter and their dogs Stanley and Gordi.
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