“THE INFILTRATORS”— A Documentary About Immigration


A Documentary About Immigration

Amos Lassen

 “The Infiltrators” is a powerful documentary film that revolves around the member of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance created by the Dreamers, or, the undocumented immigrants of US. The nature of their work is straightforward and very risky; they infiltrate into detention centers, gather information about the people that await deportation, send the information outside, and begin putting pressure on the government to stop the deportation. They don’t get paid, they work for joy of helping others.

The film pushes the boundaries of form while delivering a message of burning content. Following two undocumented activists as they successfully get themselves arrested and thrown into a detention center in Broward County, Florida, the film reveals the degrading, terrible and sub-standard treatment our country metes out to those it deems are unwanted. Mixing footage of its real subjects with that of actors portraying them, directors Cristina Ibarra and Alex Rivera create a hybrid work that is equal parts journalistic exposé and high drama, and cinema at its finest

The main characters are each introduced as their actual selves followed by their fictional counterparts. The story, itself, starts with the arrest, by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, of one Claudio Rojas, for overstaying his visa. After he is thrown into the Broward Detention Center. We learn that this is  a facility where, people are being held, without due process, for years at a time. The time has come for NIYA (National Immigrant Youth Alliance) to do something about the situation.

NIYA is made up of mostly undocumented twenty-somethings, some of them have learned that public protests often lead to the release of detainees; ICE much prefers to do its dirty deeds in the shadows. One of their own, Marco Saveedra, infiltrates the center, soon to be followed by Viridiana (Viri) Martinez on the women’s side. Once inside, they start the process of informing the prisoners of their rights, so those on the outside can better help them get free.

We are basicallya nation of laws, but as but as this documentary makes clear, we often ignore them. Sadly, this particular story takes place in 2012, with a brief coda set in 2016, raising the question of why the delay and, more importantly, how much has changed since the election of Trump. For those who believe that previous administrations have always been kind to immigrants, this film reminds us that we have long had problems being on our best behavior.

The actors in the recreations are all engaging and one of them, Claudio Rojas, was recently deported even though he remains free in the documentary.  

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