Immigration Nation: When the American Dream Becomes a Nightmare

New on Netflix, Immigration Nation gives a heart wrenching look into a bureaucratic and traumatic immigration system. In one startling confession, one Arizona ICE investigator states on camera “I put my personal feelings aside, which, yeah, maybe that’s what every Nazi said, right?”

Behind these nonchalant  attitudes of some ICE employees who uphold and uplift a broken system are children, parents, and other individuals who have fled gang violence, sexual assault, family violence, and state-sponsored torture and arrest, to achieve safety in the “land of the free.” Yet, once here, they are met with harsh conditions, detention, forceful separation from their children with no knowledge on if they will ever be reunited and rapid deportation back to a country where their life is at risk.

“I think sometimes the American Dream becomes a nightmare.”


In one scene, a father who fled with his son to seek safety in the U.S. states “I think sometimes the American dream becomes a nightmare” after he was separated from his toddler son for months with no knowledge of his whereabouts or well-being. Under the current administration, his sentiments feel like an appropriate slogan for our current inhumane immigration system.

More than a documentary for public viewing, Immigration Nation depicts a painful reality that we at New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) confront every day in our practice. Since President Trump came into office, we have heard these heart-wrenching stories from our clients, seen the devastating impact of these harsh policies on the lives of our clients, their families, and their communities, and witnessed the inhumane indifference of the ICE officers who carry out these directives.

This film will undoubtedly leave you outraged and perhaps feeling powerless to help our immigrant communities who are under severe constant unrelenting attack by an anti-immigrant administration that violates both our domestic law and our American values. Turn that outrage into action by supporting local immigration orgs, such as NYLAG.  Since President Trump’s appointment, we have:

  • Provided free legal services at NYC airports to immigrants impacted by the various executive ordered travel bans;
  • In 2018, we expanded the Standby Guardianship law to help immigrants designate a competent adult to care for their children in the event of an arrest or deportation by ICE, a constant and justifiable fear for all immigrant communities.
  • We co-founded the Rapid Response Legal Collaborative (RRLC), a New York State and New York City funded collaborative that provides legal representation to individuals at risk of imminent deportation. Many of these individuals are detained and without access to legal counsel. Our collaborative received more than 400 referrals in its first 9 months highlighting this profound need.

We encourage everyone to see the documentary to get a real inside look of the horrors of our immigration system. Most importantly, rise to action and support orgs like NYLAG that are on the ground defending the rights of immigrants every day.

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