Immigration Nation episode 1 recap – “Installing Fear”

By Daniel Hart
Published: August 3, 2020 (Last updated: February 13, 2024)
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Netflix series Immigration Nation episode 1 - installing fear


“Instilling Fear” demonstrates the inhuman practices of America’s ICE in an insightful and upsetting chapter in the Netflix series.

This recap of Netflix series Immigration Nation episode 1, “Installing Fear” has information on the chapter.

We recapped every episode — check out the archive.

The opening of Immigration Nation episode 1, “Installing Fear”

There’s a soundbite that discusses how there is a deep fear of the rules now enforced by ICE that can tear families apart much more aggressively. The opening scene sees a police unit get a warrant to remove a father from his family — just like that; remanded. It’s upsetting.

A normal day

For ICE this is a normal day, entering homes and making arrests. They are week-long operations, going from house to house, 16 hour days. One of the officers calls it “precision policing”. You can understand to a certain extent why there are some laws in place, but it feels so clinical when you see it in practice — there’s no mercy.

I’m not a racist

Some of the officers think it’s a game, tallying up how many immigrants they have caught. One of the officers state that ICE isn’t a fan favorite right now; he says they are called racists, Nazis. But the officer states he loves his job and he isn’t racist. It’s just a job and enforcing the laws. With the administration changing, the officers feel they can now do their jobs.

Isn’t that what the Nazis said? “We are just enforcing the law”? I’m not saying they are Nazis, that would be ludicrous, but it’s the same mentality — “I have to do it because it is my job”

New president

Immigration Nation episode 1 discusses how since Trump came into power, the floodgates opened and it became a different world with loads of arrests every day. Trump made all this possible with an executive order which also expanded ICE and their resources.

Academy and rapid processes

Immigration Nation also gives viewers an insight into the ICE Academy — they are prepared for the worst. They rapidly changed from arresting criminals to arresting all forms of illegal immigration. This signifies the zero-tolerance laws brought in and the controversy around it. Typically, they don’t even need warrants, and ICE officers are asked to identify themselves as the police.

All about numbers

This is so inhuman it’s incredible — one of their tactics is to pretend to be the police so they can enter the house. In one scene, an illegal immigrant is arrested and taken away who has been in the USA since 2001. The man had not committed a single crime whatsoever. One of the officers says he doesn’t arrest more people just for the sake of numbers — they call extra immigrants that are caught “collaterals” — this officer, in particular, would rather get fugitives, which by the way makes sense.

As this officer is out driving, his boss rings him and asks him to get two collaterals — the officer is frustrated about his boss only caring about numbers.

The children

Immigration Nation episode 1 also flanks to a detention center; how since the Trump administration, kids are taken away from the border. One father talks of how he has not had an opportunity to talk to his son. The man breaks down and I well up as well — this is frankly disgusting. This man tried to get to safety with his family.

F*cking cages

Children are housed in cages. I’ll say it again — children are housed in cages. CAGES. And while parts of the country are outraged, the President just didn’t care. The Administration always says it’s the law — just because it’s a law, doesn’t mean it is not inhumane. Episode 1 encapsulates the outrage well — it’s all about being on the right side of history.

It’s the law

As we near the end, ICE officers head to a family and ask a father to leave his house. He politely asks if he can get his things and if he can say goodbye to his daughter. This is heartbreaking and an unpleasant situation.

One of the workers from the processing center describes how the policies are the problem, not the officers — she claims the officers are not evil. It’s written in law. The policy is designed to be a deterrent, however, ICE struggles to detain all immigrants. There is hope that the policy has not worked so the US Administration rethinks it. The other issue is that the people who voted Trump into office wanted this.

The ending of Immigration Nation episode 1, “Installing Fear”

One of the captured fathers speaks to his daughter who he has been separated from and it’s an emotional reunion, with the girl so relieved to see her father. She describes how her mother is dead and only has him. They both discuss how the mother is in heaven. The father states he never wants to be away from her again as she is all he has. According to the documentary, in June 2018, Trump ended this practice at the border of separating children. Episode 1, “Installing Fear”, demonstrates the inhuman practices of America’s ICE in an insightful and upsetting chapter in the Netflix series.

Netflix, TV Recaps
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