The Statue of Liberty reads, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”
But what do these words mean now?
The new Netflix documentary Immigration Nation answers this question in a way that will spark conversations for a long time, especially given the current political climate.
If anyone is curious about what the immigrant experience is like for people who are desperate to make a better life for themselves and their families, Immigration Nation has a glimpse of what that is like.
Viewers should be prepared to face some tough questions that may not have simple answers.
The documentary is already sparking huge discussions because the Trump administration wanted to block it until after the election.
Is Immigration Nation worth watching? Is this one of the best documentaries on Netflix? Here is our Immigration Nation review and why it’s worth viewers’ time.
Immigration Nation review: Should you stream the documentary on Netflix?
Directed by Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwarz, the documentary Immigration Nation takes an uncomfortable glance into the horrific changes in the United States immigration policies.
And make no mistake; this is a fully immersive experience that does not leave any stone unturned.
Clusiau and Schwarz throw us right into the mayhem right out the gate as they take us on a ride-along with ICE in New York. It’s almost as if they understood the audience needed a slap in the face from the beginning to keep them tuned in.
The first episode is extraordinary filmmaking that makes one question: How were they allowed to film this?
One of the ICE Officers, whose first name is Scott, films the arrested immigrants and makes jokes about them.
Sometime later, viewers overhear him using the term “collaterals,” as in detaining extra immigrants that have no criminal record. His coworker responds by saying, what a “stupid” thing to say knowing a film crew is present.
The filmmakers then throw us into protesting, kids ripped from their families and placed in cages, ICE officers justifying their jobs as they detain more “collaterals” — and that’s just Episode 1.
And throughout the first episode, one thing is made clear by all these officers, and that is they are a politically driven body of law enforcement.
How they treat these people is dictated by the Executive Branch, not by the Legislative. And every officer, trainer, and person of authority in ICE acknowledges this notion — whether they support it or not.
And this is echoed throughout the entire series as they uncover issues in deportation methods, border patrol, the difficulties of obtaining citizenship, etc.
Let’s be clear — trying to convey the magnitude of this series would take a five thousand word essay. It’s that complex, powerful, and fully encompassing.
What they have achieved here will start a conversation and will most likely keep people up at night.
For example, there’s a talking point that most immigrants have bad intentions for crossing over. One story touches on a man named Carlos Perez, an ex-cop that had to flee to the United States because the cartel wanted to kill him and his family.
Because of politics, his asylum was denied putting himself and maybe his loved ones at risk.
Another story shows how immigrants who fought and bled for us in the war are also being deported. And the country offers no pathway that is easy for them after their sacrifice. Simply put, this is unacceptable
And Immigration Nation is riddled with these types of stories.
It wants to spotlight the situations we would never face due to how comfortable most of us live on a day-to-day basis.
As we are eating our Torchy’s Tacos, watching Netflix, and chilling, while ranting about face masks, someone is trying to stay alive by risking everything to come to the United States.
As the documentary depicts, most of these people no longer have an acceptable path.
They can either die in the desert, declare asylum and get on a wait-list or be locked up for years until a judge decides, or wait for 5 to 10 years and hope they don’t get murdered, hanged, or burned to death.
And this where the series demands and challenges us. If we are “the best country in the world,” then why do we treat outsiders inhumanely?
Why do we force them into the desert to die as a deterrent? Why do we deport people who fought for American soil? Why do we label non-violent immigrants as “collateral?” Why would we traumatize children for such a harmless crime?
If all lives truly matter, then why don’t we act like it?
Like the officers who laugh at immigrants, this won’t change the minds of a segment of the audience. However, this should motivate some people to wake the hell up.
Immigration Nation is the most powerful and fully encompassing documentary of the year. What the filmmakers accomplished here should be celebrated, studied, and talked about for the rest of 2020.
Maybe even further, depending on November.
The stories and images are haunting and will leave many Netflix viewers in tears. Much like Making a Murderer, it will spark a massive conversation about our legal system.
Everyone should feel the experience of Immigration Nation. At any point, this could be one of us. All it takes is one wrong choice in leadership for anyone to feel the same desperation.
What else can be said? Just watch it.
Immigration Nation is now streaming on Netflix.