Entertainment

Before the presidential election, two films plunge into the heart of American migration policy


It was eight years ago, well before Donald Trump: two young undocumented migrants were deliberately arrested by the American border police, in order to infiltrate a private detention center in Florida and observe ” domestic ”US migration policy.

The result is a punchy documentary, The Infiltrators, released on the American public channel PBS a few weeks before the US presidential election of November 3 during which Donald Trump, who has made hardening migration a leitmotif, hopes to be re-elected.

What freedom, what power, what dignity to grant to migrants from this country? This is one of the central questions of the film, and a central question of this election“, Told AFP the American-Peruvian director Alex Rivera, co-director of the film with his wife Cristina Ibarra, American of Mexican origin. “The issue of the rights of undocumented migrants has never been so hot“, Underlines Alex Rivera, who describes his film as the story of a”broken“, An” Ocean’s 11 immigration“.

Obama also indicted

Former President Barack Obama was nicknamed “the chief evictor“, Because of some 3.2 million migrants expelled from the United States under his mandate, between 2009 and 2016. This policy was”a big mistakeNow says Democratic candidate Joe Biden, who was his vice-president throughout this period.

Even the highest Trump administration eviction figures (some 337,000 evictions in 2018) remain below the Obama years (over 400,000 annually for the period 2012 to 2014), according to the Pew Research Institute.

Although he has made undocumented migrants one of his scapegoats, Donald Trump has not fully kept his promise to complete the construction of a wall all along the US-Mexico border, nor to deport three million undocumented migrants – he expelled less than half of them.

But the powers of the migration police were considerably strengthened under his mandate, and their methods – including dramatic scenes of separation of children from their parents, or arrests in courts, where migration agents were forbidden to go. before – have continued to fuel the controversy since 2017.

Alternating between documentary scenes and reconstructions of what they experienced in the detention center in Broward, Florida, The Infiltrators – visible until November 5 on the PBS site pov.org – tells the story of two members of the National Alliance of Young Migrants, a militant group of “Dreamers”: these young children who arrived in the United States, although Americanized since having spent most of their life in the United States, remain on probation for lack of a durable residence permit.

Since 2012, we have witnessed injustices against migrants. But now conditions in detention centers are much worse because of the pandemic“, Told AFP one of these” infiltrators “, Marco Saavedra, 30, employee in a Mexican restaurant of his family in the Bronx, pending the processing of his request for political asylum.

Another protagonist of the film, the Argentinian Claudio Rojas, whom the “infiltrators” managed to get out of the detention center: he was arrested after the film was presented at the Sundance festival in 2019, and expelled a week before the documentary’s release in Florida. “It was horrible. It was like reliving the movie, but with us inside», Says Cristina Ibarra.

Other recent release: Immigration Nation, a six-part series on Netflix, offers a rare insight into the functioning of the migration police. American filmmakers Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwarz have obtained the unprecedented authorization to follow, for two and a half years, agents of ICE (the American immigration control body) in their operations against undocumented migrants.

They indicated to New York Times that ICE had asked them to postpone the broadcast after the elections, and to cut certain key scenes, such as when agents lie to be able to enter the homes of undocumented migrants, or are ordered to arrest “collaterals” as well – undocumented migrants who are not subject to any arrest warrant.

But the broadcast was able to be maintained thanks to the precautions taken in the signed contract, the pre-filming, between ICE and the directors, they indicated. These films are in addition to other documentaries on illegal immigration released in recent years, such as Living Undocumented (Living without papers, on Netflix) or Torn Apart: Separated at the border (Torn apart, separated at the border, on HBO).

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