Coming to America

Neil Diamond’s “America” (1980) is included on the soundtrack of The Jazz Singer, in which a Jewish man struggles between his religion, family, and dream to sing. “America” specifically speaks to the country’s rich history and immigrant population, which has created the cultural abundance Americans welcome and cherish. Unfortunately, America’s treatment of immigrants is not always worthy of celebration—the internment of Japanese Americans is one tragic example among many. Playing on the irony of Diamond’s song and America’s poor treatment of legal residents is Cheech Marin’s Born in East L.A. After immigration officers raid a factory where mostly undocumented Latinos work, Ruby Borles (Cheech), a natural-born citizen who forgot his ID, is deported with the others. But this is not the end of Borles, but a new beginning for him and the friends he makes in Tijuana. Banded together, they overwhelm the border patrol and enter America as Neil Diamond’s anthem plays.