Family has no borders.
Never has there been a timelier show. Daily, the United States deports individuals, some undocumented, some green card holders, asylum seekers and even naturalized citizens. Many may not have known they were in the country illegally.
Most Americans, with intense messaging from politicians and media, view these immigrants as a criminal, unruly, unwashed swarming mass. In reality, we are deporting the husbands and wives of American citizens. The parents of American children. Many only know the American experience and are not discernible from any other Americans.
The Deported features those All-American individuals who are part of the fabric of every community. They have played High School football, been in the Boy or Girl Scouts, been a cheerleader, coached football, went to the prom, been valedictorian, joined the military.
They may have children, parents, friends, coworkers, lovers - people who care deeply about them. They are pursuing their American Dream.
But then an event happens: a misplaced document, a traffic stop, a DUI, a minor drug infraction. This launches a surreal journey that may eventually lead to loss of the right to reside in the U.S.
We experience the final stages of the deportation process with them.
Some are granted “relief from deportation.” Others, sometimes without notice, are “removed” - taken to a deportation transit center then placed on a bus or a plane to a place and culture may not know all.
Other may seek sanctuary in a church, a sensitive place off limits to the ICE enforcement team.
Many say "why didn't they become citizens?" We witness the nightmarish legal process, inconsistent and confusing by design, of trying to stay. Married to an American citizen? Love and children are not compelling enough to allow permanent residency or citizenship. Not having a criminal record doesn't matter. Political connections, military service, being a hero, a firefighter, a good citizen of the community does not exempt a person from deportation.
The decisions are heartbreaking. Whether to self deport and have the slight chance of coming back in five years. Or do go into hiding, risking the chance that, if caught, they may never be allowed back in the US again. Or to seek sanctuary. There is not good decision. And a rare and luck few receive unexpected stays, a chance for permanent residency or citizenship.
Throughout the process, many feel betrayed by what “their” country has done, especially the veterans who risked their lives for the United States. We try to get into their mindset – the anger, the fear, the resignation that at the whim of a judge, their life may change forever.