Netflix’s “Immigration Nation” review

Kaitlyn Bowers, Video Director

Netflix’s new limited series Immigration Nation tells the harrowing stories of US immigrants and their experiences with ICE. The six-part series follows a documentary crew as they immerse themselves in the lives of ICE agents and follow them as they make various arrests and raids. 

Courtesy of IMDb.

The filmmakers hold nothing back with the footage of the scenarios that they chose to show. At times, it can be disturbing and shockingly real. The morals of these ICE agents vary throughout the series. Some see what they do strictly as a job. Others, however, seem to have a bit more fun with it, as in the first episode, we see an agent take a video of a detained immigrant and giggle as he sends it in a group chat to other agents. 

Throughout the documentary, it is clear that ICE knows that they are quite literally tearing families apart. They use this as a deterrent, a way to convince other immigrants to not enter the country illegally. 

“It is the strategy to tear families apart, which to me is unconscionable, and bring them maximum pain, and to use that as a deterrent,” said John Amaya, the former Deputy Chief of ICE in a press conference. This is not the only time this sentiment is shared throughout the documentary, but it is said in the fewest words. 

It can be hard to not turn off the documentary at some points. The absolute rawness of the film can be difficult to take in. But the filmmakers do what they need to do to expose this broken system. They show every side of this story, from the families being torn apart and the detainees who don’t know what is going to happen next, to the officers and agents who see their jobs of deporting people as just pushing papers.

 It’s important to see the system for what it truly is, and what better way than from ICE agents in their natural habitats? 

This documentary is truly one of a kind. No other documentary has gotten this close to ICE agents. The documentarians actually got so close that, according to a report by the New York Times, the Trump Administration pushed to hold off the documentary release date until after the 2020 election – The implications of this are interesting. Why didn’t they want Americans to see this? As you get through the 6-hour series, it might become more evident. 

The production value is superb. From the interviews with the ICE agents to the supplementary footage used to establish setting, the care that is put into this docu-series is evident. What these filmmakers did takes guts, and that in itself should be recognized. 

If there’s one Netflix original that you watch this summer, please let it be Immigration Nation. It is dark, it is uncomfortable, but it is real. For that reason, Spinnaker rates this documentary 5 out of 5 sails.


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