In Trump’s America, the thought of anyone purposely getting arrested by an ICE agent sounds like a pretty crazy thing to do. Even when Obama was president, it almost makes no sense until you hear about the story of The National Immigrant Youth Alliance. The Infiltrators gives us a look at true events that sparked change in a Broward County, Florida ICE detention center. This was before the advent of the concentration…er…detention camps that still exist around the country, but nonetheless, ICE was still alive and well during the Obama administration, and this group of young people went head to head with them several times.
The Infiltrators is sort of a documentary and sort of a narrative feature. The fact is that it’s both. We are introduced to the real National Immigrant Youth Alliance members responsible for the events of the film, and then some actors play the people who are detained for the parts where they are inside the detention center. The question you might have, and which I did almost immediately, is WHY? Why would you purposely, as an undocumented immigrant, go to the door of border patrol and ask where your cousin is? The reason that Marco Saavedra did it was that Emiliano Rojas’ father, Claudio, had been detained by ICE at his home days prior. He called the National Immigrant Youth Alliance for help. The group had a whole plan cooked up to help detainees get released from deportation.
“…these young people were willing to get detained to help save other people.”
The National Immigrant Youth Alliance were no strangers to protests, arrests, etc. They had staged several sit-ins all over the country. The next step for them to take was the big one that is documented in The Infiltrators. Marco (Maynor Alvarado) went to the center, found Claudio Rojas, and told him that he was there to get him out. He was also there to get out anyone else who was interested. The process is stressful and not guaranteed. Marco had Radym (Dino Nicandros), one of the only US citizens in the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, come visit him in the center with permission slips that take away the detainees’ right to privacy. Once that happens, people can send petitions to Congress and any other entities who have power over this situation to release detainees. Marco is almost immediately successful in getting Ismael (Oscar Perez) released this way. This is not all that the members of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance did. They had Viridiana Martinez attempt the same thing in the women’s wing of the detention center. She was there to get out as many detainees as she could as well.
Now, there’s nothing I like more than seeing people engage in one-upmanship with ICE or any other governmental agency that exists solely to oppress people. However, the specifics of how the group gets things done are a bit confusing. You have to pay close attention because Mohammad Abdollahi and the rest of the team there to get the detainees released are working in real-time. We hear actual audio from phone calls that were made when Marco and Vidri were arrested because they both turned their phones on and put them in there pocket upon arriving at border patrol. So, pay close attention if you want to replicate their actions (which I’m not technically condoning but…ya know). It’s quite an outstanding story that these young people were willing to get detained to help save other people. I have a great amount of respect for the real people involved with the events that are documented in The Infiltrators. It takes a whole lot of huevos to do what they did.
So if you have a strong distaste for ICE as I do, you will love the way these kids get one over on them in The Infiltrators. It also offers a human side of these deportation stories for people who may be MAGA hat-wearing haters of everyone who isn’t white. It’s always my hope that people who refuse to see the humanity in the people they have such strong unfounded hate towards to see films like this. To see that there are families involved, that there are circumstances far more complicated than a set of documents could ever explain. I somehow doubt that people who think undocumented people took their jobs and whatever other trumped-up fantasies they have about non-U.S. citizens will see the other side of the story, but it is one of my greatest hopes.