Jennifer Zuniga Opinion Editor
On Oct. 2, “Living Undocumented,” a Netflix documentary series, was aired. The series was co-directed by Aaron Saidman and Anna Chai and executive produced by Selena Gomez, Mandy Teefey, Eli Holzman, Aaron Saidman, Sean O’Grady and Anna Chai.
The series showcased the life of eight undocumented immigrant families from various parts of the world (Latin America, Israel, Laos, and Africa) who also have varied problems with their immigration status living in the United States. Throughout the episodes, the viewer is able to acknowledge the struggles that undocumented people face daily: the shame, uncertainty, fear, etc. At the same time, they get educated on immigration, a heavy political issue, that the United States is currently facing.
I found myself crying, yelling, and feeling flustered as I watched because this is a topic that has affected me since the age of one when my parents left Mexico, my birth country, to pursue the American dream. The series went deeper to understand the children’s side of the issue, which hurt because they get affected by the problem of immigration everywhere they go: career, school, etc. Additionally, my heart couldn’t get enough to see how the eight families found the light at the end of the tunnel by remaining hopeful, optimistic, and patriotic. “Living Undocumented” will allow the viewer to spend time inside the homes, businesses, and workplaces of families who are torn apart by the laws and policies to the point where deportation is possible.
The first episodes dive into the life of Luis Diaz who contributes to the government by working hard at his construction job where he has helped built schools. We see his fear that Kenia Bautista-Mayorga, his pregnant girlfriend, who’s in detention in Kansas City, MO will be deported to Honduras with her child. He has a lot to lose, for instance, a future with her and his children (both adoptive and biological). The episodes went deeper on how he must turn over his son to Kenia. He made a difficult decision by entering the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) facility to say goodbye to Kenia. We also got to understand Kenia’s story and why she came to the United States: fear of returning back to Honduras because her ex-boyfriend is a cop there.
We also watch as Alejandra, a wife who married a former Marine has no other choice, despite fighting in court and sharing her story on different media platforms to get the opportunity to stay, get deported to Mexico. She took her 9-year-old U.S. citizen daughter with her and left her older with her husband in Florida. Although she saw it coming and prepared, it was difficult since her new home became the United States. We also learn that the husband voted for President Trump, which rises other political issues.
Additionally, viewers see Eddie, another Mexican immigrant, who moved to Toronto from the U.S. with his citizen husband. At age 14, he came to the U.S. illegally to see his mother while she was getting cancer treatment. Due to falsifying his paperwork at the airport, he lost a chance at legal status. To think that one act of not knowing what was happening could rob him from furthering his life here in the U.S. is insane to think about. He built a life here and was devasted to leave all his hard work behind: a business, a car, an apartment, etc. He left his life behind because the United States government didn’t accept him here. Yet, he left with a hopeful feeling with his husband, to feel accepted elsewhere to be free to start a new life.
By the end of the season, we get to learn about the hearts that are affected by the immigration laws. Although I didn’t go into detail about the rest of the families, you should give it a watch. You will learn about how each deportation scare affects the family, different laws and policies implicated by the different presidential administrations, how it affects future generations, detention centers, and so much more. The truth shows that the topic is very broad and nowhere near a resolution. You might know someone who is undocumented, so it is crucial to listen and carefully listen to the testimonies from the families who were not afraid to share during the series. Therefore, it’s very important for you to educate yourself on the different reasons people flee their country: poverty, war, crime, etc. America gave them the opportunity where they could change their circumstances and that they could be able to better their financial, social, economic, cultural well-being in the process. Until today, the political issue has many immigrants on their feet as they wait for the Supreme Court to make a decision.