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Art, Advocacy and Action

Ellin Jimmerson, Director/Producer/Writer/Editor

Ellin Jimmerson

The Second Cooler is Ellin Jimmerson's first film. She edited it using
Final Cut Pro 7. 

She has an MA in Southern History from Samford University, a Ph. D. in U. S. History from the University of Houston, and a Masters of Theological Studies from Vanderbilt Divinity School with a concentration in Latin American liberation theology. She is Minister to the Community at Weatherly Heights Baptist Church in Huntsville. She writes, speaks, and preaches on the intersection of history and faith and is a prominent advocate for illegal migrants, guest workers, and domestic laborers.

Jimmerson is the author of numerous published essays and articles. Her newspaper opinion-editorials on illegal migration include “If It Is a Sin to Cross, I Hope God Forgives Me,” Huntsville Times, December 22, 2006, “Illegal Immigration,” Mobile Press-Register, March 2, 2008, and “Open Letter to Governor Bentley, Senator Beason and Representative Hammon About HB 56,” which appeared in the Huntsville Times, the Mobile Press-Register, and the Montgomery Advertiser in the summer of 2011. One of her sermons on illegal migration is “Reflections on the Migrant Trail Walk.” You can read her opinion-editorials and sermon by going to “Writings.”

Jimmerson is a plaintiff in the case of HICA, et. al. v. the State of Alabama because of its anti-immigrant law, HB 56. The Southern Poverty Law Center represents her.

In 2010, Ellin Jimmerson was nominated for a $10,000 prize for human rights advocacy by the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives and the Puffin Foundation. In 2011, she won a special award for social justice by the Interfaith Mission Service, Inc.

The Second Cooler

The Second Cooler



The Second Cooler asks, 'Who benefits?' from illegal immigration while bringing major systemic issues into focus. These issues include US complicity in creating Latin America's extreme inequality, the Federally anticipated, devastating impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement on millions of Mexican peasants, the militarization of the US / MEX border in anticipation of those displacements, the US's socially-encoded dual legal entry system which discriminates against poor and/or indigenous people, the exception of the guest worker program which is a system of legally indentured servitude, and the deaths of thousands of illegally-crossing migrants along the United States' southwestern border. 

 By bringing the major factors behind illegal migration into focus, The Second Cooler reframes the debate and suggest solutions that will primarily benefit foreign and domestic workers rather than corporations and employers. Most of these suggested solutions, including creating a legal way for poor and / or indigenous Latin Americans to come to the United States, a way which would automatically stop the deaths of migrants, have never been proposed as aspects of "Comprehensive Immigration Reform" most of which include expansions of the militarized border and of the guest worker program.

The title refers to the second morgue refrigerator, or "second cooler" as it is called, which the Pima County, Arizona Medical Examiner's Office had to install to store the hundreds of migrant bodies which come to their offices every year. Many of the bodies cannot be identified and are sometimes stored for years at a time. 

The movie includes rare interviews with illegal immigrants, including several children, and guest workers in on-going law suits. Original art, music, and score. Fully subtitled in English and Spanish. There is a postscript in which director Ellin Jimmerson acknowledges that, during the editing of the movie, her sixteen year old daughter and her daughter's boyfriend were killed by a drunk driver. The driver was an unauthorized migrant from Mexico.

Director's Statement

As a child in two viciously segregationist southern towns—Albany, Georgia and Birmingham, Alabama—I saw how easy it was to humiliate and injure other human beings. As a historian, I know that the United States is not an innocent bystander to Latin America’s outpouring of its people. As an ordained Baptist minister, I feel called to advocate for justice by exposing humiliating, death-dealing systems in order to change them.

The Second Cooler is intensely important to me. We in Alabama still invoke the memory of the four little girls who died in the 1963 bombing of Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. Little girls are dying again. Milka Lopez-Herrera was 1 year old when her body was recovered from Arizona’s Sonora Desert. Lorna Celeste Robles Enriquez was 5. Olivia Elizabeth Luna Noguera was 11. Lourdes Cruz Morales was 12.I want the deaths to stop. And I want Alabama to honor Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley by taking the lead.

Learn more: "The Second Cooler"