Netflix’s newest docuseries, Immigration Nation, gives a behind the scenes look into the secretive world of the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agency, most commonly known as the ICE. As Canadians, we are used to American-centric news and media.
You may be thinking, “What does this have to with me, a Canadian?” To which I respond, it may not affect you personally, but being silent and uninformed about this subject is complicity.
Despite being difficult to sit through, this docuseries is a necessary watch to anyone who even fathoms going to the United States. Although this series was supposedly filmed over a period of three years and some things have changed, it is still very relevant.
Throughout the series, ICE officers muse about the names their agency has been called, ranging from racist to Nazi. In response, they call those reciting these names ignorant, stating: “I am only following orders” or “I do as I’m told”.
These words hauntingly echo back to the Nuremberg Trials post Second World War when many former Nazi soldiers used similar or identical phrases. This shows how little we have moved on from the past, as the same excuses from over seventy years ago are still used to this day.
The use of the Nuremberg Defense in reaction to their horrific actions only demonstrates the lack of self-accountability. Despite being the ones that perform the mass arrests and deportations, these officers are trying to transfer any of their guilt onto their superiors by shifting blame onto them, but saying they had a guilty conscience while following orders does not make what they did any less horrible. Additionally, unlike former SS officers at the Nuremberg trials, ICE officers are free to leave their jobs without fear of retaliation.
This show was filmed immediately after the inauguration of the 45th American President, whom I refuse to name. Anyone working for the ICE agency could have easily quit if they did not agree with the new administration’s policies, as America is not Nazi Germany. Of course, they would be leaving a well-paying job with good benefits, but they would not have to forfeit their morals.
In the now-famous 1961 Milgram Experiment, Stanley Milgram, a Jewish psychologist at Yale, wanted to delve deeper into how the atrocities of the Holocaust could have occurred. In brief, Milgram’s experiment explored how a person could be pushed to do actions that go against their conscience when told to do so by a figure of authority. This is applicable to the ordeal that ICE officers undergo, but replace the fake electroshock delivered to a victim with potential, yet very real, Geneva Convention violations.
Furthermore, to refer to “illegal immigrants” as “illegal aliens” is beyond stupid. Imagine how the Indigenous populations of America must feel to hear those words constantly being uttered by President 45 and his administration. No one is illegal or alien on stolen land.
Many say that the pilgrims were the first “illegal immigrants”; however, I must disagree with that statement, as they weren’t immigrants, but rather COLONIZERS.
The same can be said about the French who established themselves in our totally non-problematic province of Quebec.
There are layers upon layers of hypocrisy on the part of those who praise the pilgrims for coming to America to flee persecution and for wanting a better life, yet continue to argue that the migrants, who are under the same conditions but are arrested at the border, should have known better than to come illegally. It seems that people lack awareness and are full of ignorance.
Both the United States and Canada were and are countries fuelled by the work of immigrants and to ignore so is to ignore the truth. We are both Immigration Nations who would be nothing without its immigrants. To turn a blind eye to them in this hour would be a great disservice, especially considering how communities populated by minorities, thus immigrants, are the ones most likely to be affected by COVID-19, as they are on the frontlines doing the work that no one else wants to!
To quote Hamilton the Musical, “Immigrants, we get the job done.”
By Angelique Chu