In April 2019, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents staged the largest immigration raid in a decade in a sleepy corner of East Tennessee. Latino families were broken up and fear set in for those who remained, while white conservative residents were forced to confront the reality of immigration policy coming to their neighborhood.
“I never thought it would affect the people in my own county,” one resident explains in Rodrigo Reyes’ short film on the subject.
“I kept thinking the criminals are at the border,” he adds, summing up the distorted way in which all that “border security” talk was always a dog whistle that many Latinos around the country knew wouldn’t be geographically limited to the actual border between the United States and Mexico.
Executive produced by Gael García Bernal and produced by Daniela Alatorre and Elena Fortes, After the Raid gives the audience a glimpse into a community trying to heal. As Grainger County grapples with ICE’s encroaching power, reeling from the consequences of having so many in their community taken away without warning, they are forced to confront what happens when anti-immigration talk and spurious ideas of “criminals at the border” is weaponized against working-class populations closer to home. Scenes at the church, in living rooms and outdoor cookouts ground the film not in lofty abstract ideas about immigration but in real-life concerns about absent fathers and co-workers. It’s as illuminating and hopeful as it is enraging. It’s also a worthy companion to the work Reyes has been producing for years, which includes documentaries like Purgatorio: A Journey Into the Heart of the Border and the feature film Lupe Under the Sun, about an aging migrant farmer living in California.
After the Raid is now streaming on Netflix.