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Living Undocumented

Every year, many families are torn apart due to deportation. Some immigrants are forced to flee their country due to certain circumstances while others come to another country to live a better life. A judge would have to choose between having a person be deported to their death back in their country or freedom. People feel powerless knowing their family member’s fate lay in the hands of another. In ‘Living Undocumented’ directed by Aaron Saidman, 8 families are filmed as they go through the treatment of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) under the Trump administration.

These families, and immigrants in general, are treated as if they are threats to society. This documentary takes a stand on the issue using logos, pathos, and ethos to try to convince people that immigration is an important issue. The filmmakers follow the lives of these specific immigrants to see how they are affected by illegal immigration, as well as to further understand their feelings towards the issue.

‘Living Undocumented’ proves it’s main point in showing that there should be a change in our immigration system by using statistics, visual old footage, and the personal experiences of families.

‘Living Undocumented’ is effective in presenting the case through logos, consisting of facts and statistics. Throughout the 6 episodes, the filmmakers make sure to include statistics. They also have 2 former immigrations lawyers, Patricia Corrales and Leslie Rojas, further explain how illegal immigration has changed under each presidents’ administration. In the first episode, after Trump’s interview, Corrales talks about how for the last several years, the number of people crossing the border illegally has been low under the Obama administration.

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She states that in 2018, the number of people crossing were as low as what is seen in the line graph in the early 1970s. As 2019 started to come, the number of people crossing started to increase due to the violence children and families started to encounter in Central America (Living Undocumented). They also discuss different laws which have affected these immigrants’ lives. One includes how a new law was passed in the last few months of 2018 to detain pregnant women as well. One of the immigrants, Amadou, was detained and had a lawyer named Julie Nemecek. She talks about how Mauritania has the highest slavery rate in the entire world (Living Undocumented). She includes this statistic to prove that ICE tries to do everything in their power to send these family members back to their countries which are threats to their lives. Returning to that country is a death sentence for them.

The documentary proves it’s thesis through pathos by showing visual footage of people getting harassed both in the US and the countries they migrated from. Ron, a man who arrived from Israel at 2001 and llived undocumented for 17 years, talked about how just like every immigrant, he wanted a better future for him and his family. As he talks about living in Israel, the documentary includes videos of fires and chaos. There were also films of bombing an sirens. The documentary shows videos from the cameras as well as pictures of children and adults being grabbed and taken into the detention center. Clips of how migrants have to struggle to get through rivers, walk through desserts, and go underground are also included in this documentary. Camilo, the son of Roberto (who was deported back to Colombia), was interviewed on how he feels about the issue. He talked about how he was not able to go to college or get his license because of this situation, and then he proceeded to cry.

Someone who could relate to him is a girl named Bar. She cries about not being able to be a normal teenager because she cannot work and has to hide most of the time because she was not born in America. Most of the people being interviewed for this documentary, especially the children of the parents being deported, either got teary or started to sob. The last episode has an opening scene of someone being shot, explosions, people screaming, and chaos. This is not something that is staged. This is true, raw, video footage of what these people had to get away from. Footage was taken of an ICE agent assaulting a lawyer in front of cameras and 40 observers. She was pushed outside of the door when her defendant, Luis, was tricked into walking into the detention center as an illegal immigrant. This resulted in the lawyer getting multiple injuries and fracturing her ankle. This is something to be concerned about because if an ICE agent could do something like that to a lawyer in front of cameras and protesters, someone can only imagine what they do to the immigrants locked up in private cells.

The filmmakers do a very good job in incorporating ethos into the documentary by following the lives of people whose point of view and experiences can be trusted. One out of the 8 people that they followed was a woman named Alejandra. She arrived from Mexico in 1998. When she was younger, she was robbed at gunpoint while working at a bakery back in Mexico. She wanted to leave because she was threatened to be killed by the robber. This is not something a person could lie about just to move to another country. What makes her credible is that she is a military wife. Her husband served 3 times for this country and she gets deported after doing nothing wrong except for trying to get appeals for her deportation order over and over again. Her husband sacrifices a lot but they do nothing but tear apart his family. Selena Gomez produced this documentary and she does this because she wants to be a voice for people who are unable to speak up about this issue. Gomez herself is not an immigrant and neither are her parents, but her family also had to migrate from Mexico. Her aunt had to hide in the back of a truck as her grandparents followed to cross the US-Mexican border. Gomez is hoping for people to watch this documentary not just because she is a pop star who served as an executive producer but because she is hoping people will be affected from it and will want there to be change.

‘Living Undocumented’ directed by Aaron Saidman uses all 3 rheotical appeals to show the lives and struggles of the people who had to migate, and how the immigration system made it more difficult for them to stay in America. This documentary was effective in proving the main point by having statistics, showing the audience the harassment ICE and other countries treat people, and by interviewing credible people who actual have to face the hardships. People are not born strong. Strength is something that these people had to develop to face life without their family. In order to fully understand this illegal immigration issue, people must see it through the eyes of the immigrants and how they had to overcome this problem.

Works Cited

  1. Living Undocumented. Dir. Aaron Saidman. Netflix Official Site. N.p., 02 Oct. 2019. Web.

Cite this page

Living Undocumented. (2019, Dec 02). Retrieved from

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