In 2017, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) gave filmmakers Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwarz unique behind-the-scenes access to their procedural systems. Over the next three years, the pair were able to witness first-hand the psychologically devastating effects of Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy on asylum seekers and their families.
Immigration Nation, the six-part Netflix docu-series, is as profound and meticulous as it sounds. Clusiau and Schwarz follow officials from the moment they arrest a group of undocumented individuals at their homes to the moment they arrive at cold-hearted detention centres where debates regarding their deportation are held. Here, ICE agents are seen sniggering and poking fun at one of the detainees as he bangs his head against the wall in fear. Children are ripped away from their parents and thrown into cages for an indefinite period of time; in an emotional reunion between a father and his daughter, the former explains how he was left with pain in his soul as his flesh and blood was unjustly taken away. Sadness and desperation grow and as a result, heavy tears are shed.
Though ICE had been around under the Bush and Obama administrations, its primary use was for tracking down criminals. With the arrival of Trump, everything changed – anyone now caught violating immigration laws would be prosecuted, not just those who had engaged in criminal activity.
If there is anything that the filmmakers wish for Immigration Nation to show, it’s this: things need to change. Human lives need not and must not be destroyed at the expense of a broken settlement system. Values must be upheld and action must be taken to make the world a kinder and more inviting place. There is no other way around it.
Immigration Nation is released on Netflix on 3rd August 2020.
Watch the trailer for Immigration Nation here: