orange is the new black

Courtesy of Netflix

Orange Is The New Black Shines Light on Immigrant Detainees

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Aug. 7 2019, Updated 5:06 p.m. ET

People always hate on Orange Is The New Black, but you have to give them at least some credit for being not afraid to touch on sensitive issues in the U.S that are affecting minorities. Recently, they’ve released the final season of the Netflix Original series in which some episodes shone light on the condition that immigrant detainees are kept by ICE, and we’ve jotted down some memorable quotes to try and change your mind about Orange.

First of all, some context:

PolyCon’s Senior VP: Federal funding for detention centers like ours is up 20%. More ICE agents on the streets, plus a growing list of deportable offenses means our beds stay full. Then we ship ’em out, we bring in even more.
New warden: It’s so quiet. 
PolyCon: They are much more docile, compared to Max.
[…]
Warden: So they’re in orange, but they’re not criminals?
Head of ICE at PolyCon: Well, they are criminals. They’re here, right? They came to our country illegally.
[…]
PolyCon’s Senior VP : ICE handles the processing, the legal, the deportation. PolyCon handles the housing and the feeding.

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In the same episode, conversations among the illegal or undocumented detainees show that they aren’t allowed phone calls to contact a lawyer or family member. They can’t send out written letters out without paying, but they often have no access to cash in the detention center because of how they were grabbed off the streets without notice.

Lorna Morello (inmate): I know they’re bad kids, but don’t they need more food than this to grow?
Nicky Nichols (inmate): This isn’t juvie, sweetheart. It’s a different kind of detention. Hey, do you wanna live in the USA? Are you white? Preferably Western European or Australian white? No? Wait here. Have some old, fake meat prepared by felons. Welcome to America.
Lorna Morello: Well, it’s better than Ellis Island, where they just let everybody in.
Nicky Nichols: You’re here ’cause your family came in through Ellis Island. Back when the thought of America becoming a fascist regime with one party ruling behind a radical authoritarian was unthinkable. [sarcastically] Huh! How times have changed.

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Marisol Gonzales (inmate): You know what? This potato probably came from Canada or Ireland or some other country and nobody cares. Nobody says, “Send the potato back to Canada where it doesn’t know anybody, because there’s no birth certificate.” That would be so dumb, and a waste of a smart, sexy, funny, BFF-like potato.
Maritza Ramos (ICE detainee): Wait. Am I the potato?
Marisol Gonzales: [starting to break down] Why is a piece of paper so important? Why is that what says you’re American, and not, like, knowing all the lyrics to “Tik Tok” or how to do ribbon highlights that make you look sexy and not like a Jersey ho? [crying] I can’t lose you again.
Maritza Ramos: How? My mom lied to me? (about being born in the US) … But I’ve never lived anywhere else.

Unnamed Egyptian detainee: I just wanted something to occupy my mind. I’ve been moved around to many of these detention centres. They all start to look the same after a while.
Nicky Nichols: How long is a while?
Egyptian detainee: For me, it’s been 18 months.
Nicky Nichols: Shit. How much longer you got?
Egyptian detainee: It’s not like prison. They don’t give you a set release date. My case will either get approved for asylum, or they send me back to Egypt. I won’t until it’s happening.

At the end of episode 7.03, some inmates read out a quote from a pamphlet that’s supposed to help with their rehabilitation:

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Blockquote open

The state is invested in protecting people, but the state is an institution made up of people. People who are fallible and biased. So, sometimes the system designed to protect us fails. Sometimes, it is the larger system of fate or circumstance that puts us is tough situations. We have to make hard choices that other people can’t understand. Sometimes, we are the people who can’t understand why someone did what they did or why we have to pay the price for their actions. Often, we don’t have the capacity to deal with the chaos of life. Often, there is no way to prepare for its shocks and blows. But if we’re perpetually turning away from the things that feel too hard to face, we’re defining ourselves by what we’re seeking to avoid.

No one escapes this life without experiencing pain or injustice. And some people are dealt far more hardship than others. It can feel like there’s no way out. It can feel hopeless, like no one cares. How do we restore justice in a world that is profoundly unfair?

- Blockquote close

The state is invested in protecting people, but the state is an institution made up of people. People who are fallible and biased. So, sometimes the system designed to protect us fails. Sometimes, it is the larger system of fate or circumstance that puts us is tough situations. We have to make hard choices that other people can’t understand. Sometimes, we are the people who can’t understand why someone did what they did or why we have to pay the price for their actions. Often, we don’t have the capacity to deal with the chaos of life. Often, there is no way to prepare for its shocks and blows. But if we’re perpetually turning away from the things that feel too hard to face, we’re defining ourselves by what we’re seeking to avoid.

No one escapes this life without experiencing pain or injustice. And some people are dealt far more hardship than others. It can feel like there’s no way out. It can feel hopeless, like no one cares. How do we restore justice in a world that is profoundly unfair?

Honestly, I was drinking as I saw these dialogues and quotes, and I teared up so much… I hope it does the same for you, you heartless thing.

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