Netflix’s “Immigration Nation” brings the horrors of American immigration to screen



Netflix’s latest docu-series highlights the tragic horrors of immigrant lives with respect to their treatment by ICE

“The American Dream” has been a long-standing idea that’s defined our nation, the idea that if you’re escaping religious persecution, seeking safety, or trying to create a better life for yourself, America is the place to do that. The country of immigrants.

However, if there’s anything that Netflix’s six-part docu-series “Immigration Nation” shows audiences about the plight of undocumented immigrants in America in the face of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), it’s that the American Dream no longer exists for those who need it the most.

It’s not a show that’s fun to watch, but that’s why we have to watch it.

The docu-series, directed by Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwartz, highlights ICE’s unrestrained brutality and total lack of sympathy towards the undocumented immigrants they deport and detain. Highlighting the level of detachment that many officers have towards the job, stating claims like “We look for people who are removable” and “It’s not personal, it’s business”– but it is personal. Interviews with undocumented immigrants held in ICE’s detention centers highlight tragic narratives surrounding parents separated from their children at the border, families mourning the deaths of loved ones who died while crossing the border, and individuals sent back to countries where they will face certain peril or death. Episode five of the series focuses on a 63-year-old woman, Berta, who fled Mexico with her granddaughter after a gang made violent threats against them, only for Berta to end up in an ICE detention center for 17 months and eventually get deported back to Mexico, without her granddaughter. These stories aren’t rare amongst undocumented immigrants.

Especially in the light of the introduction of the Trump administration’s “Zero-Tolerance Policy” (introduced in April of 2018) as the priority of ICE, thousands of children were separated from their parents at the border. Documentation of the footage highlights the awful conditions children were placed in at the U.S.-Mexican Border and in numerous other detention centers across the country. 

This show has highlighted the egregious human rights violations that ICE has enforced through the Trump administration, especially in light of new whistle-blower allegations that claim ICE is performing forced hysterectomies in one of their detention centers in Georgia. This documentary and numerous investigations provided the view inside an awful federal agency that should be held accountable for their numerous human rights violations.

After finding out the premise of the documentary, ICE sought to block the documentary’s release and threatened legal action against the filmmakers. Which is why I think it’s so imperative to watch this series: it’s an unfiltered look into the horror behind the agency, and it’s information that ICE and the Trump administration don’t want the public to know.

It’s not a show that’s fun to watch, but that’s why we have to watch it.