Parents' Guide to

Immigration Nation

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Damning documentary series puts ICE under the microscope.

Immigration Nation Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 1 parent review

age 15+

Reveals the Realities of Legal Terrorism

I think the cover art gives viewers enough of impression to let people know that this is definitely not a kid friendly series. Humans are treated inhumanely, parents are separated from their children. It's disturbing, violent, and traumatic. I still have to finish watching this but, so far, it is not a happy immigration story. The documentary introduces us to ICE - a government group that plays the role of a programmed robot military that "legally" process orders that cause extreme trauma and terror to its American communities. They execute without forethought or consideration of the lives that they impact around them because, to ICE, the primary goal is to meet daily quotas and make money at the expense of destroying parents' and children's lives. Like most terrorists, they don't care about who they inflict harm on. ICE are like bulls in china shops, day in and day out. I wouldn't recommend it to young children. Especially children who have been adopted (doesn't matter if it's transracial or within the the country of origin) and have trauma related to being separated from their biological parent/s. Mature teenagers may be able to watch this but it will be important to have thoughtful conversations around the subject matter. How sometimes laws don't make any sense and that, throughout our world's history, their have been laws that have existed that harm rather than help society. Our only hope is to remember that the law has a life of its own and can eventually evolve beyond violent behavior.

This title has:

Too much violence

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

Powerful and painful, this documentary digs into the backstory of the Trump administration's massive ICE expansion, the agents on the job, and the immigrants they apprehend, with damning results. The contrast between the agents, who range from swaggering and gleeful to resigned and faintly critical, and the immigrants they bust is terrible enough. Detainees are interviewed in stark talking-head style, relating the stories of how they made their way to the United States, the lives they've led here, and the anguish they feel at being separated from their families and torn from their lives. Tears are common as detainees describe what their kids are like, and how they screamed to stay with their parents as agents forced them apart (a scenario that we learn is a new one, as pre-Trump families were kept together if at all possible, and only separated for up to 72 hours).

Meanwhile, many of the ICE agents seem to view their job as something akin to a video game. There's a lot of excited talk about "ops" and intense competition to bring in the most "tangos" (those residing in the United States without legal immigration status, in ICE parlance). It is difficult to watch as ICE agents are instructed to identify themselves as "police" and use a combination of tricks and threats to get people to open their doors to them, and then demand to see ID for everyone in the house, looking to sweep up what's called "collaterals": people who aren't in any trouble with the law, but aren't legal residents, either. That's new, too, this arresting and deporting of "collaterals," and that's just the beginning of the horrible things Immigration Nation uncovers. It's not an easy watch, but it sure does feel like an important one.

TV Details

  • Premiere date: August 3, 2020
  • Network: Netflix
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-MA
  • Last updated: February 18, 2023

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