Actor Barkhad Abdi, known for his Oscar-nominated turn playing opposite Tom Hanks in 2013’s “Captain Phillips,” has wrapped production on a new project, and it’s one with special meaning for him.
“America; I Too,” a video meant to educate undocumented immigrants on what to do if arrested and detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, was put together by the L.A.-based Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, and started production on the same day President Trump signed an executive order to deny entrance to the United States to anyone from the seven countries of Iraq, Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Sudan and Somalia.
Abdi signed up for the project unaware that two of the places he lived — Somalia and Yemen — would be included in the ban. Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, on April 10, 1985, Abdi earned wide acclaim for his first film role in “Captain Phillips” and has also been cast in the highly anticipated “Blade Runner” reboot. The son of a teacher, he fled to Yemen with his family at the age of seven after the 1991 civil war erupted in Somalia. Abdi stayed in Yemen until he was 14, when winning a green card lottery allowed his family to move to a Somali neighborhood in Minneapolis.
“We need to help each other just as we all need help at one time or another” Abdi said. “I wanted to do this project because while this information might be helpful to some people, someday I may need help too. You can’t abandon what’s right just because you may not be the person being affected at the time.”
Directed by Anike Tourse, “America; I Too” tells three interconnected stories about immigrants arrested under different circumstances and follows their journeys through the system, illustrating the different ways in which one can be arrested and the different things that can happen depending on how one responds. It will be dubbed into several languages and distributed as widely as possible.
CHIRLA executive director Angelica Salas said the film is being given “an expedited release given the current political climate.”
The film will be available on Oscar night, Feb. 26, on multiple streaming platforms.