For a documentary series largely concerned with the separation of parents from their infant children, immigrants not being paid for rebuilding American homes after a hurricane, and refugees afraid for their lives, there’s rather a lot of laughter in Netflix’s Immigration Nation. Not from any of those listed above, but from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
They laugh when their Spanish is wrong, ignoring the very important distinction between crossing a border legally and Entering Without Inspection. They laugh at videos of themselves wasting time in the office, interned immigrants chained up behind a window in the background. They giggle with glee when more “illegal” immigrants are brought into their office, building up to the quota they need to fill to complete their mission.
ICE agents count a lot too. “I wanted 100 in,” says one on a day 39 people were arrested, “removed” and sent to a detention centre. “How many did you get?” is a common refrain between colleagues coming in from a night shift tracking down targets or, as they refer to them, “fugitive aliens”. In one telling scene, an agent receives a phone call from his boss telling him to “start taking collaterals” before clarifying “I don’t care what you do but bring at least two people”. “He knows you’re with me, right?” the officer turns to ask the camera crew. “Because that was a pretty fucking stupid thing to say.”
It’s no wonder ICE – and President Trump – tried to stop the footage from seeing the light of day, despite originally giving filmmakers Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwarz unprecedented access. According to The New York Times, Trump’s team “fought mightily to keep [the series] from being released until after the 2020 election” and threatened the filmmakers with legal action if they didn’t remove certain scenes.
By Emily Baker for inews
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