Check it out: Immigration Nation



From a reader:

Immigration Nation, a six-part documentary currently showing on Netflix, presents a comprehensive picture of the “zero tolerance” anti-immigrant policy being carried out by the Trump/Pence regime—and its horrific impact on millions of people born outside this country. Watching this series will enrage you, and bring you to tears. Try to watch all of it, because it brings together a great deal of their fascist program, and its consequences. (The Trump/Pence regime tried to force redactions in the documentary, threatened legal action, and demanded that it not be shown until after the election.)

The filmmakers, Shaul Schwarz and Christina Clusiau, spent nearly three years on the project (from early 2017 to fall/winter 2019). They were able to spend time with and film ICE agents as they did their work in places like New York City, Charlotte, North Carolina, and the border near Tucson, Arizona. And they filmed inside immigrant detention facilities, including the massive one near the Mexico-U.S. border in El Paso, Texas.

At the same time, the filmmakers were able to spend considerable time speaking with the immigrants targeted by ICE and the Trump/Pence regime. Their work brings the cruel, brutal, and often illegal actions by the ICE agents to screen at length and up close—and you also see and hear from the immigrants being physically and emotionally tortured in such horrible and despicable ways.

The series is organized into episodes focusing on different parts of the immigration system: parents in tears, in chains after a routine check-in with ICE, denied the chance to even say goodbye to their children; undocumented construction workers organizing to get justice after their contractor refuses to pay them for weeks of work; Marine veterans deported for marijuana possession; an elderly woman seeking asylum in the U.S. after fleeing El Salvador with her 12-year-old granddaughter who was facing death because she refused to “marry” an MS-13 gang-member—the child is reunited with her mother, but the grandmother, after 17 months in detention, is deported back to near-certain death.

In the first episode, the viewer rides along with ICE gestapo agents in New York City as they knock on doors, lie about who they are and why they’re there to manipulate their way in, and arrest their “target”—along with other “collaterals.”1

“The Right Way” episode shows what happens to refugees who present themselves at the border for asylum. We see how under Trump’s “Stay in Mexico” plan, 50,000 asylum seekers are forced to wait months, even years, in Tijuana or Juárez, with no way to support themselves, after showing they’re eligible for an asylum court hearing.

In the episode “Voting,” we see ICE carry out their promise to retaliate when North Carolina’s Mecklenburg County elects a sheriff (a former veteran cop) who had promised to end the 287(g) program (which lets local cops act as ICE agents and enables ICE to screen and deport people in jail for any reason). ICE floods the area with agents riding in unmarked vans, stopping and taking immigrants off the streets. Here we meet Stefania, a teenage immigrant activist from El Salvador, who leads the battle to shut down 287(g), and then we see her overcoming her own fear to go out in the streets, following and videotaping the ICE agents at work.2

Several times, we’re reminded that many of the policies Trump has ratcheted up were begun or carried out by previous Democratic administrations. But I kept thinking, the Trump/Pence regime hasn’t just made things worse; this is a qualitatively different—fascist—form of rule.

In the final episode, which takes place in the Arizona desert, we see how Trump has shut down any legal options for immigrants and refugees, and more and more border crossers are forced to attempt deadly treks across the unforgiving Sonoran desert. We watch border agents searching for the scattered remains of immigrants who died while desperately trying to cross. We learn that one way this government measures the success of its “prevention through deterrence” is by counting how many migrants have died in the attempt to cross.

Near the end of the series a border agent says,I put my personal feelings aside, which, yeah maybe that’s what every Nazi said, right?” He adds, “I actually believe in the cause of trying to enforce some sort of sovereignty over our borders...”



1. The film shows some agents complaining they’re being “unfairly” portrayed, while others are openly happy they are “finally able to do their jobs.”  [back]

2. In a Los Angeles Times interview, Christina Clusiau describes Stefania:

She’s a warrior. She’s something else, that one. She just keeps on going. She never gives in. She was able to build enough support in her community that she was like the leading force for other people to stand up. And I think [there’s] really something to be said [for her] to step in front of the line and say, “Yes, I’m vulnerable. I could get caught up in this. But it’s more important to me to make sure that my community is safe.” It’s pretty incredible.  [back]

BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian is a book of quotations and short essays that speaks powerfully to questions of revolution and human emancipation.

“You can't change the world if you don't know the BAsics.”

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