Immigration Nation is a 6-episode documentary series that airs on Netflix today.

It shows the audience the interaction between illegal immigrants and immigration law enforcers.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, work under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to ensure public safety by enforcing federal laws governing border control, customs, trade, and immigration.  

The docuseries showed the implications of President Donald Trump’s draconian immigration policies.

Early in his presidency, Trump signed an executive order to prioritize the removal of all immigration violators. 

Prior to the executive order, ICE’s previous directive was to prioritize the removal of undocumented immigrants who have committed serious crimes. 

The series’ executive producers, Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwarz, spoke with TIME to give insights on poignant and powerful parts from the docuseries.

(Left) Shaul Schwarz, (Right) Christina Clusiau

On Collaterals

In ICE language, collaterals refer to an arrest of an undocumented immigrant, yet, an unintended target.

The filmmakers point out that this practice shows how the agency departed from its original mandate of capturing undocumented immigrants who are wanted for crimes.

On Family Separation Policy And Limbo

Clusiau said that it is an unforgiving system and people get chewed up by it. 

An episode tells the story of a man named Bernardo, who was apprehended by immigration officers.

He was separated from his son, Emilio.

Emilio was fortunate in a way.

He was entrusted to his aunt after the arrest.

The arrests have a trickle-down effect, from the actual detainee to their family. 

Emilio had wondered if he was the reason why his father got arrested.

He also felt that he was a burden to his aunt since he was temporarily living with them.

An ICE agent bragged on camera that taking away children from their parents is an effective way to curb illegal migration. 

The administration’s stern immigration policy has even affected legal immigrant applications by reducing the number of resettlers. 

Deborah, a refugee from Uganda, must wait more than 5 years before she can be reunited with her children in the U.S.

Clusiau said that as Deborah waits for administrative papers to be processed, her children are growing up without her. 

On Exploitation Of Labor And Support

In legal parlance, “chilling effect” refers to the inhibition to exercise rights because of fear from legal sanction.

Illegal immigrants are afraid to voice out their rights for just compensation and fear of prosecution. 

In 2018, months after Hurricane Michael hit Panama City, Florida migrant workers helped build the city.

A Panama City resident told the filmmakers that regardless of immigration status he is willing to pay for good work offered by migrants. 

Some individuals took advantage of migrant workers by withholding payment. 

Resilience Force, a labor migrant group, helped organize a group of unpaid workers to demand payment from their employers.

In Charlotte, North Carolina, immigration rights organizer, Stefania Artega, was successful in putting a stop to ICE’s 287(g)— a program that allows state or local law enforcement agencies to perform immigration law enforcement duties like federal agents.

She lobbied for a county sheriff that supported her cause—Garry McFadden. 

When he was elected, he sent ICE a letter as a signal to stop the county’s participation in the 287(g) program. 

Schwarz said that immigration advocates had a hard time and it is remarkable how they did not lose hope despite spending so much time working in a broken system.


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