“The New Normal” shows ICE battling the PR issues against them and the exploitation of undocumented workers.
This recap of Netflix series Immigration Nation episode 4, “The New Normal” has information on the chapter.
The opening of Immigration Nation episode 4, “The New Normal“
There’s a concern that even though the law 287/g has been removed from the counties, ICE are still invasive. Stefania Arteaga, an activist with the ACLU of North Carolina attended a sheriff’s meeting at Mecklenburg County and ICE officers secretly attended it. ICE seems very espionage about certain things. It’s almost like they can’t let it go that the county doesn’t want them. There’s clearly a reaction to the new sheriff and some ICE officers seem proud of their backlash of the removal of 287/g. It’s frankly disgusting — imagine how they speak once the cameras are off?
We need workers after a hurricane
An ICE officer calls North Carolina an “immigration problem” with many immigrants illegally working.
Viewers are then shown a hurricane and the wreckage it caused in Panama City, Florida. Many people left the city, and they needed immigrants to rebuild.
One of the citizens interviewed doesn’t care about the green card as long as it’s quality work from the people they hire. Even though the place needs more workers, police are still alerted to process them via ICE. Some contractors threatened some undocumented workers; “If they didn’t finish the work, they’d ring the police”. In one scene, one of the contractors refuses to pay due to bad drywall and a workers’ representative raises the law and wage theft.
This is exploitation
The contractor soon sh*t themselves when they learn the law — this is exploitation. Knowing an illegal immigrant is working for you and then threatening them with deportation is blackmail — exploitation. Immigration Nation episode 4 shows privilege at the highest level — enabling contractors to get free work in desperate conditions after a natural disaster. It’s ironic that they need the undocumented in times of need. An organization called Resilience Force looks into the issues for unpaid immigrants.
As we approach the halfway point of episode 4, activist Stefania Arteaga follows ICE patrols who are doing aggressive operations on the streets, telling immigrants not to sign anything or speak. She’s raising awareness of ICE’s tactics on social media. It’s all over Facebook live. The ICE officers are worried about the attention as the activist is shouting out their right to an attorney etc with a full camera crew.
Arteaga is doing an incredible job tracking down the ICE patrols and making them feel uncomfortable — she’s showing an ounce of bravery that the undocumented deserve. She always tells the arrested immigrants that they have the right to remain silent — she also raises how they are using unlicensed and unmarked vehicles to catch these people.
Unwrapping a repeat offender
The organization continues looking into wage theft and focus on a repeat offender — Tommy Hamm’s company. Tommy Hamm is a Bay County commissioner that owns his own construction company named Winterfell. They work out the structure of the company to unwrap the exploitation. Tommy Hamm states it was the subcontractors that didn’t pay the immigrants and he removes himself from responsibility. Just like that, Immigration Nation episode 4 shows how easy it is for a man in power to remove himself from accountability for exploitation.
Confront the repeat offender
A group of immigrants plans to go to Tommy Hamm’s house directly and try and have a respectful conversation with representatives. Tommy doesn’t answer so they leave a letter before the police come.
ICE begins to blame sheriff Gary McFadden from Mecklenburg County for removing 287/g and refusing to take part in ICE operations which have resulted in a more aggressive approach.
Bryan Cox, Public Affairs Officer at ICE, believes misinformation in the media is the reason why there’s such a stigma against their organization — he claims that 91% of those detained are criminals. This is clearly a lie as a colleague starts referencing a “35%”. Cox starts talking about the “New Normal” with the new policies. Bryan Cox is insufferable — he knows exactly how to manipulate.
Hamm’s sneaky lawyers
Tommy Hamm claims that his children were under threat when Resilience Force approached his house, stating that his family may relocate — this is clearly bullsh*t. Hamm’s attorney wants names for this dispute — they are once again using their undocumented status against them. It’s a very risky approach for these workers.
The next scene shows the Board of County Commissioners holding a public meeting. Tommy Hamm is there. Soni, the man leading the worker’s organization, partakes in public participation and gives them a policy proposal for wage theft. The commissioners are very dismissive as one of the immigrants overtakes the speech but then she gets teary and talks about the Winterfell construction firm making Tommy Hamm look very uncomfortable. The immigrant highlights to Tommy that he never compensated the workers.
The board stops the speech saying it’s an individual attack. The documentary explains that Tommy Hamm’s company has never had any violations or cases against him. I’ve never seen so much bullsh*t in my life in this one scene. The organization Resilience Force plan to put a civil case against Tommy Hamm.
The ending of Immigration Nation episode 4, “The New Normal”
Stefania Arteaga manages to gather news outlets to their protest outside of an ICE office and Bryan Cox states that the media always do this. They release a statement to the press and give a breakdown of statistics of their recent operations, including how many of the undocumented were criminals. FYI, a crime can include a broken tail light. The bar is very, very low before people start stating “the law is the law”.
The man doing the statement sent out by Bryan uses the “91% statistic” again. The journalists don’t seem to be buying it but they end the press conference very quickly. Bryan Cox is happy with the message that has reached into the media — “The New Normal”. What’s annoying is that Bryan Cox is good at his job and he paints over the inhumane cracks. Episode 4 shows ICE battling the PR issues against them and the exploitation of undocumented workers. It’s an episode that gives a harsh reality of what illegal immigrants are up against, even when America needs them.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.