Now airing on Netflix since Oct. 2, 2019, Living Undocumented has caused widespread controversy across the country. Produced by Selena Gomez, the six-episode series covers the lives of eight undocumented immigrants from various parts of the world.
Living in Texas, Florida, and South Carolina, undocumented families share their stories of how events in their everyday lives- such as getting a first job, eating dinner as a family, or having a birthday party, are affected by their fear of deportation.
From episode one, Living Undocumented is considerably heart wrenching. Sharing eye-opening perspectives of immigrants, immigration lawyers, coworkers, and friends, the show exposes the truth to the American immigration experience. Filmmakers Aaron Saidman and Eli Holzman aimed to debunk common ideas that immigrants need to “get in line” and “do things the right way”. During the first episode, an immigration attorney and former ICE attorney Patricia M. Corrales painfully explains that these common ideas of immigration are not possible, as there is no “line” to get in to.
“You either have to be petitioned by a family member, or petitioned by a job. You have to have some lawful reason to enter the United States. You can’t just show up at the U.S. Consulate and say, “I want to become a resident of the United States.” That’s not how it works.” says Corrales.
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A majority of the individuals featured within the show share a common theme- desiring a better future for themselves and their families through achieving the “American Dream”. Members of the families interviewed shared that they had traveled to the United States to better their families, not to do anything harmful to anyone as many Americans often assume.
Dramatic accounts of the lives of undocumented immigrants have gone viral since the show has premiered, revealing ‘shocking’ evidence that ICE mistreats many that come through their doors.
Ron, an immigrant from Israel is introduced in episode one. He shares that he had traveled to the United States in 2001 “Because I wanted to have a better life, a better future for my wife and for me and my kids” even though they were immigrating at one of the most difficult times for immigrants due to being a few months post 9/11.
Before the Trump administration, President Barack Obama had worked to implement policies such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in regard to undocumented immigration. DACA allowed youth of undocumented presence within the United States to receive a two year deferral period from deportation, in order to become eligible for a work permit. DACA was later ruled unconstitutional in August 2018.
The Obama administration publicized immigration policies in regards to “felons, not families” and “criminals, not children” according to President Barack Obama, whereas the Trump administration now focuses on deportation as a whole – with very little concern of keeping families together. Under President Trump’s “zero-tolerance policy”, all undocumented immigrants are to be detained by ICE facilities, whether the individuals are deemed to be criminals or not.
Take the Diaz family; Luis, an immigrant from Honduras is depicted attempting to save his wife and young child from deportation, risking his life while doing so. During the second episode of the show, Luis is filmed taking his wife’s child Noah to the ICE detention facility to be deported alongside is mother, yet is tricked into entering the building so that ICE officers can detain him as well. Outside of the building, protestors displayed signs with phrases such as “The world is watching”.
The Netflix original series is a piece for advocacy, in light of bringing awareness to the public of an ongoing issue in modern society. As undocumented immigration becomes a forefront issue in the upcoming election’s debates, media pieces such as Living Undocumented become essential exposés for voices and opinions to be heard.
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Unfortunately, allowing immigrant voices to be heard has caused ICE to be on the hunt. Multiple individuals featured in the show, such as the Dunoyer family, are now fearing for their lives even more than before – as the authorities force them to hide from the public eye to prevent deportation.
Sources such as CNN are already proclaiming the series “will likely end up preaching to the choir”, yet many find Living Undocumented to be the film society ultimately needs in order to open their eyes under the Trump Administration.
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Living Undocumented truly depicts the unfortunate reality that hope and faith aren’t always enough. Covering the raw exposure of modern immigration issues, Selena Gomez’s docuseries is the mind-altering documentation our society needs now more than ever.