Immigration Nation

A Reel Peak Films Production for Netflix

Most of us have heard about ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), the powerful federal agency that has come to stand in for everything that is inhumane about America’s immigration policies. But we know precious little about the inner workings of a complex bureaucracy that was created in 2003 as part of the American government’s response to the 9/11 attacks. Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwarz’s six-part documentary shows how bureaucrats and officers working across different, seemingly unconnected domains—from supervisors at detention facilities to immigration judges with quotas to fill, from clerks who fill out warrant forms to border patrol officers who arrest, detain, and deport immigrants—make up a complex and terrorizing system. With rare access to detention facilities, ICE agents on duty, immigrant families, and lawyers and activists, the filmmakers reveal how individual and collective justifications of “we are just doing our job” rationalize a punishing system. For capturing the way cruel policies become unquestioned orders to be followed and quotas to be filled, regardless of the human cost, Immigration Nation wins a Peabody.