The Netflix docuseries Immigration Nation is a sobering look at what America’s immigration policy has turned into as well as a glimpse into the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Is Immigration Nation kid friendly? As important as this is for people to watch, the human suffering is too much for most kids to bear. It was too much for me to handle.
Usually when I write a parent review, I split it into sections to discuss language, violence, mature content, etc. Immigration Nation is rated TV-MA for all these non-kid friendly things, but most of all for lack of human decency. As the first episode started I felt myself get angry as ICE Agents tricked people into thinking they were police and then entering their homes without a warrant with “permission.”
And then as Steve, aka the guy I want to throat punch, ridiculed a detainee and videoed him, essentially mocking him as a joke to coworkers, I felt the anger get worse. I was shocked that these agents behaved in certain ways. They knew they were being filmed. ICE, a federal agency, admitted to changing their priorities and operations to detain and deport undocumented immigrants.
Under previous administrations, ICE prioritized removing immigrants arrested for committing serious crimes. Now it’s a numbers game. The Netflix docuseries comes without commentary and reality TV side interviews a la Tiger King. And thank goodness, because none is needed. You’re free to make your own observations, though you can tell where I landed.
So back to my Immigration Nation Parents Guide. There is plenty of language, four-letter words, and f-bombs. And the graphic and disturbing images of people handcuffed and chained, children crying and separated from their parents, and lack of humanity are enough to haunt my dreams for a long time. I keep thinking about those chains.
Immigration Nation may be appropriate for older teens able to handle these discussions, because you also get a glimpse of agents who are conflicted with empathy and doing a job they’ve been instructed to complete. They may feel the same confusion on world views.
You’ve got good guys and bad guys. “We just look for people who are removable.” That’s some of their mottos. That’s what they tell themselves, but then they also take collaterals. Victims who get caught in the middle minding their own business. It’s heart-wrenching.
I was constantly asking myself, how did we get here? How did we become a nation without empathy? Yes, there’s the law. And I’m not here to argue the morality of humans crossing the border illegally. I appreciate those who protect us. However, I’m also a parent, and I can’t fault those running from gangs and abuse seeking a better life for their families.
So no, Immigration Nation is not kid friendly, but neither is what ICE has become. This 6-part series should be watched by all adults as depressing or tough as it may be to watch to be informed at what is going on. The only way to bring about change is to make our voice heard. And the way every decision has become politicized in this country, it’s no wonder there is much disagreement. However, I’m waiting for the day when basic human decency binds us back together.