Friday, August 7, 2020
Teaching with Immigration Nation: Family Separation/Client Trauma
Immigration Nation, now streaming on Netflix, offers a treasure trove of film to use in the classroom. Here is just one possibility using Episode 1 (Installing Fear).
Try playing 29:24-28:26, 8:20-7:25, and 5:25-2:00. These are countdown numbers, which are easier to find on Netflix than the minute markers when they appear. Though you'd be looking at roughly minutes 71-72, 92-93, and 95-98. This will give you approximately 5 minutes of film.
You'll be introduced to the gentleman in the foreground of the photo on the right and his young daughter in the middle-back of the photo. The two talk about family separation.
Dad (interview 1, crying): "When I was at ICE, they told me that they were going to separate us forever. She was going to stay here. I don't know in whose hands."
Dad (interview 2): Discusses how his daughter saw her mother murdered, how he took her to a psychologist who told him "You must always be close to her."
Reunion, Daughter (interview 1): Recounting how officials said "That I would never get to see you again, that they are going to move me from home to home. I told them I would see you again but they just told me that I would never see you again, and I cried."
These segments put a human face on the issue of family separation. It's impossible not to be moved by the two. Also, what kind of monster tells a kid that she'll never see her dad again?
The segments also offer real insight into how people process trauma differently. The dad is sobbing, his pain obvious and visible. The daughter has a thousand yard stare. She's crying, but it's like the tears are just running out of her while she stares into the far distance and tries to shut it out.
This concept -- that clients will present trauma differently -- is one that I've been trying to emphasize for years. I use John Oliver's discussion of visas for war translators and talk about how "flat" one interviewee is when talking about his father's murder and his brother's kidnapping.
Of course, you can also refer back to these same 5 minutes of film when you're teaching asylum. What information is missing from the story that would need to be established before this family might be eligible for asylum?