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Oppressive Immigration Enforcement

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If there is one branch of law enforcement that is almost guaranteed not to be presented sympathetically, then it has to be immigration control. After all, it's hard not to sympathise with individuals who simply want to make a new life for themselves, especially with all the hardships they already face in a strange new country or if they are refugees fleeing from war or persecution.

Likewise, the tactics that immigration control officers have been known to use when dealing with undocumented immigrants (i.e. random raids, mass roundups, detainment and sentence without trial, etc.) can come across as severely disproportionate and bear a disturbing similarity to those employed by the Secret Police of authoritarian nations.

All of this adds up to making the practice easily comparable to state repression and infringement on human rights. Thus, it's not hard to see why immigration control agents are most often than not presented at best as cold and apathetic enforcers of unfair laws, and at worst as needlessly aggressive, sadistic, bigoted abusers who delight in the suffering of those helpless to stop them.

Expect presentations to lean heavily into the worst stereotypes of law enforcement and state repression.

Don't expect this corruption to interfere with their zeal and effectiveness (though also don't expect this to translate into actual competence outside of making arrests). More often than not expect them to immediately leap into action the second they receive a report about an undocumented immigrant, who is then immediately detained and quickly deported (to the point that often even other officials are powerless to do anything about it). Don't expect issues with resources or legal appeals to be an issue for them, even though in real life this is a major issue for most agencies leaving them unable to respond to every report and the legal process leading up to deportation can take years.

At best you might occasionally get an individual enforcer who is sympathetic (especially if they are themselves descended from immigrants) and hopes to change the system from the inside, but they are most likely to be presented as naïve and foolish, and often end up either disillusioned into quitting or else dead.

Beyond the enforcers themselves this presentation can extend to those who implement and authorise the policies, and thus expect similar presentations to extend to them such as firebrand anti-immigrant politicians, callous unwelcoming community leaders or especially vicious judges. At its furthest, it can be used to demonstrate the growing oppression of the society as a whole, with its growing xenophobia reflecting an increase in the erosion of civil liberties and rights.

This trope is likewise often used by the writers to express their own views on real-life immigration policies.

Subtrope of Dirty Cop. Compare Naughty Narcs for another brand of law enforcement to most likely be presented as corrupt or evil, Overreacting Airport Security for security forces who are similarly scorned, more so in the past, and Right-Wing Militia Fanatic who also often enforce oppressive anti-immigration policies but (at least usually) hold no actual legal authority to do so (though there is occasionally an overlap such as officials maintaining off the books ties, officials being group members or even flat-out outsourcing to said groups for what they can't accomplish through legitimate channels).

In real life, the ethics and procedures surrounding Border and Immigration Enforcement is a highly controversial issue. Whilst there have been multiple real-life scandals around the actions of Immigration Enforcement agents and nation immigration policies, several of which have fuelled fictional depictions, due to these controversies No Real Life Examples, Please!.

Sub-Trope of Order Is Not Good, when law and order in general, are presented as anti-freedom and oppressive, and Politically Incorrect Villain, when a villain is a bigot to further showcase their villainy.


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    Comic Books 
  • Fantastic Four: Traditionally, the border guards of Latveria, the domain of Doctor Doom, are portrayed as arrogant and suspicious of outsiders. The comic book tie-in to the computer game "Doctor Doom's Revenge!" also suggests they aren't above a bit of illegal seizure, as a group of guards is shown confiscating a man's collection of CDs with the excuse that the CDs are "decadent" despite it being clear they're simply taking the CDs because they want them. Alas, they're so pleased with their haul they fail to notice the man was actually helping Spider-Man and Captain America sneak into Latveria...
  • The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: In an alternate universe where the Functionists note  are still in power, a group of guards harasses the returning Minimus Ambus and demand that he transforms because they can't identify what he is. When he does so, they draw weapons on him demanding to know what he is, as they can't find his vehicle mode on the Grand Taxonomy, and only relent when he explains that it's a war machine and he's only just returned from action in deep space.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Blue Bayou: All of the tragedy of the film occurs because Antonio LeBlanc, who has lived in the United States of America since he was three years old when he was adopted, is discovered to have never been registered as a citizen and is facing extradition. He and his family try to fight it, but their lawyer tells them that his chances are extremely low and that is without counting Denny, a bigoted New Orleans Police officer, beating the everliving crap out of Antonio on the day of his hearing, so he is unable to arrive and is sentenced for extradition in absentia. The immigration officers even rip Antonio away from his baby daughter when they say each other goodbye at the airport. The only reed of hope he has left in the end is the possibility he will be able to file for citizenship in the future because of his family.
  • Born in East L.A.: The protagonist Rudy Robles is a Mexican-American man who, because he's Mexican and doesn't have his papers on him, gets mistaken for an illegal alien and deported to Mexico by a racist, incompetent immigration bureaucracy despite being a natural-born US citizen and military veteran who knows more German than Spanish. He spends the rest of the film scheming to get back into the US "illegally".
  • Children of Men: The United Kingdom has turned into a Police State due to the infertility crisis, in response to massive waves of migrants and refugees trying to enter the nation. Illegal migrants who are arrested are subject to draconian laws, with many being imprisoned or executed.
  • Fun with Dick and Jane: The remake has Dick Harper (played by Jim Carrey, who could not be more Caucasian) arrested by Immigration alongside a number of labor workers, mistaken for Mexican because he has a mild tan from being on the street all day and mumbles because of an injured jaw (and his son said "Hola" to answer the phone when Dick used his One Phone Call to call his house — the Immigration agents immediately hung up the phone after that and dragged him away) and sent to Mexico within a few hours, forcing Dick to cross the border (and nearly get shot) to return home. They showcase even more incompetence when they ignore an actual illegal immigrant because he had Dick's wallet and ID (that he stole), even when he looks absolutely nothing like Dick's photo.
  • Machete: Texan Senator McLaughlin is a racist bigot who campaigns heavily on immigration control and closing the border, with him openly comparing immigrants to vermin and his campaign video against them is deliberately shot to resemble antisemitic Nazi propaganda videos. Secretly he also has links to and accepts payments from the Mexican Drug lord Torrez, with his campaign to close the border really being to wipe out his completion and so it will be easier for Torrez to smuggle his own illegal products across. He likewise is linked to Von Jackson, the local Right-Wing Militia Fanatic group's leader, with McLaughlin regularly joining them to murder migrants crossing the river. By the end of the movie he's mistaken for a migrant by those same people and shot and killed by them.
  • Men in Black: Agent K and Agent D interrupt a bunch of border patrol agents snatching up a group of illegal immigrants from Mexico to pick out a literal blue alien who has overstayed his visa on Earth. The border patrol agents are treated as rather incompetent and obsessed with insignificant problems. But then, that goes for all Muggles who aren't in on The Masquerade.
    Agent Kay: You fellas can hit the road. Keep on protecting us from the "dangerous aliens".
  • Official Secrets: Katherine is married to Yusuf, a Kurdish refugee who is applying for permanent residency in the UK. Though he was facing deportation when they married, they are genuinely in love and it's not a Citizenship Marriage. When Katherine breaks the Official Secrets Act by leaking a memo about the Iraq War, immigration enforcement tries to deport Yusuf in the middle of the night, accusing them of fraud, despite the fact that Yusuf isn't involved in Katherine's actions at all and she is already being punished for it. She manages to stop the deportation by rushing after him in the middle of the night and rescuing him.
  • Terminator: Dark Fate: The Terminator sent to kill Dani impersonates a Border Patrol agent in order to try to kill her in the detention camp where she, Grace, and Sarah have been confined after being caught trying to cross the US-Mexico border. The genuine border control agents meanwhile are depicted as being uncaring, cruel, and lecherous.
  • The Terminal: Frank Dixon, the Acting Field Commissioner of John F. Kennedy International Airport, is an Obstructive Bureaucrat who refuses to allow Viktor Navorski to enter the United States of America because his country is undergoing a civil war and his passport has been disavowed. He then goes on to perform a number of petty acts to make Viktor's life whilst stranded in the airport a living hell in the hopes that Víctor will try to leave the airport and put him in the hands of Immigration. By the third act, Viktor's continuous refusal to leave turns Dixon's obstructiveness into a vendetta and culminates with him threatening Viktor to take the first flight back to his country when the civil war ends or else he will have all of Viktor's friends -- employees of the airport -- fired or deported. Ironically when Viktor finally leaves the airport on a one-day visa to fulfil his Humble Goal, Dixon decides it's too much of a hassle to call the cops on him and lets him go.
  • The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada: The whole plot occurs because a Jerkass Border Patrol officer hears gunfire near him (Mr. Estrada, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, shooting a coyote that was attacking his flock), thinks he is under attack, and without any further thinking shoots Estrada dead and, once noticing what he has accidentally done, buries him to try to fend off investigation. He is partially successful — when proper authorities encounter Estrada's burial site, they just place him in a common grave without looking into things further, but Estrada's former boss finds the officer and forces him at gunpoint to unbury Estrada and come with him to Mexico to bury Estrada in his home town as he often had told his boss he desired.
  • Scarface (1983): The movie begins during the "Mariel Boatlift" in the early 1980's, a mass exodus of Cuban refugees caused by several factors, including an economic downturn in Cuba, former immigrants trying to bring their families to the U.S, and the Castro regime seeing an opportunity to get rid of their "undesirable" citizens. Regardless of origin, the refugees end up herded into poorly funded camps like "Libery City" in Miami, and generally treated as subhuman, especially by immigration officials, who sees them as Fidel Castro "dumping his garbage" on the United States. However, while most of the refugees are portrayed as innocent victims of xenophobia and racism, others, such as Villain Protagonist Tony "Scarface" Montana, Manny Ray, Angel and Chi-Chi, who are all genuine criminals with no legitimate claim for citizenship.

  • In Das Känguru-Manifest ("The Kangaroo Manifesto") by Marc-Uwe Kling, a right-wing populist party named "Security and Responsibility" founds an Orwellian Ministry of Productivity that categorifies all foreigners into productive and unproductive. Being The Slacker, the Kangaroo is a target for that mechanism and labelled unproductive. The different public administrations that the Kangaroo encounters are all overly bureaucratic, unfriendly, unhelpful, and in one chapter, straight-up inspired by Franz Kafka's infamous The Trial. In the last chapter, the Kangaroo is officially deported, but returns secretly in the next book.
  • The Missing (Haddix): After Jonah starts trying to investigate the circumstances of his adoption, supposed FBI Agent Mr. Reardon threatens to arrest Jonah's parents and deport Jonah. Notably, Jonah is only thirteen and was adopted as a baby and Reardon refuses to even tell Jonah where he might be deported to.
  • Nevermoor: The Free State is safer for minorities than most of the world, but has strict anti-immigration laws, even in cases of life or death. At the start of the series, Jupiter smuggles Morrigan into the Free State with the help of a sympathetic border control officer, but she's then hounded by Flintlock, a Bigot with a Badge who's extremely xenophobic and determined to deport her. Even though she's a child with nowhere else to go, and will be murdered if she's sent back to the Wintersea Republic. The "closed border" policies of the Free State and those prejudiced against immigrants are deliberate echoes of anti-immigration laws in the real world, and a very pointed Take That! to boot.
    Flintlock: Illegals are a plague, and it's my solemn duty to guard the borders of Nevermoor and protect its true citizens from Republic scum trying to weasel its way into the Free State.
    Jupiter: A noble and valiant cause, I'm sure. Protecting the Free State from those most in need of its help.
  • Wild Cards: In this series of superhero novels, there is a great example in the novel "Mississippi Roll". In an early novel, Kazakhstan suffered an extradimensional incursion from Lovecraftian horrors. Kazach "jokers" (as the mutated victims of the wild card virus are called) are scapegoated and a lot of them flee to the US. The immigration policy of the Conservative US administration is very callous, and the ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents are among the villains of the novel. It is remarkable that long-standing protagonist Carnifex (he's been a superhuman agent for the Department of Defence since the 1980s) finally resigns in disgust, taking other heroic agents with him, instead of continuing to cooperate with the immigration agents tasked with rounding up the Kazach jokers.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The A-Team: "Bad Time On The Border" features Border Patrol Lieutenant Jack Taggart, who is secretly corrupt and in bed with a coyote named Prince to run a Human Trafficking ring, smuggling desperate Mexican immigrants across the border by promising them better lives, then robbing them of all their possessions and selling them as slave labour to local sweatshops. Taggart is so callous his only concern about sick immigrants dying is his loss of revenue.
  • Baptiste: Hungarian radical Right-Wing politician Kamilla Agoston features heavily in Season two, who is campaigning heavily on strict anti-immigrant policies and presented as a cold-hearted bigot. Following their investigations Baptiste and Zsófia Arslan come to suspect that she is secretly Gomorrah, the mastermind behind the neo-Nazi anti-immigrant terrorists they are after. She isn't, but she does approve of their brutal murders and happily exploits them for her own capital.
  • Blindspot: 'Rules in Defiance' presents multiple ICE Agents as on the payroll of Maxwell Tate, with them selecting suitable women from those who are about to be deported, and then allowing Tate's thugs to abduct them during transport for his forced prostitution operation, whilst falsifying the records to claim the deportations took place. Being responsible for literally hundreds of women having been taken. There is a single honest agent who attempted to help Ronnie Vargas after Tate framed him for murder, however, he was quickly silenced by his co-workers framing him for sexual harassment on Tate's orders.
  • The Cleaning Lady: ICE (specifically its ERO branch) is presented as a cruel, inhumane agency that treats immigrants like cattle. In "ICE" when Garrett uses his FBI connections to have them detain Thorny's illegal workers so he can force them to cooperate, they simply go behind his back to deport them.
  • The Closer: "Help Wanted" features Joe Myers a vicious, bigoted ICE agent who uses his much-abused son to find him nannies and babysitters who are undocumented immigrants. Myers then proceeds to torture and rape the poor women, silencing them with the threat of deportation. Panicking when he discovers his latest victim is in fact a legal immigrant, Myers beats her to death and then starts rounding up all his victims to kill or deport, to ensure the police don't link her death to him.
  • Criminal Minds: In the episode "A Rite of Passage", the serial killer of the week is Ronald Boyd, a crazy sheriff's deputy of a New Mexico border town who spends his nights hunting down illegal immigrants trying to sneak into the United States and killing them. When the BAU arrives to town because of the huge body count he has left behind, he escalates to insane levels to not be caught, including annihilating a local Cartel group to try to frame them for the deaths, killing a fellow deputy when he is a witness, and trying to shoot it out with the FBI agents. He's even infuriated that his boss Sheriff Ruiz investigated his victims' disappearances, declaring his victims can't be missing as they "ain't supposed to be here in the first damn place" right before killing him.
  • Come Fly With Me: Gatwick Airports Chief Immigration officer Ian Foot is a recurring character and presented as a moronic racist who blatantly abuses his position to exercise his bigotry, regularly detaining, insulting, and harassing anyone who comes through the airport who isn't a white Englishman. Boasting to stop anyone whose name he considers foreign sounding, and even harassing his fellow staff at the airport like Taaj (a Bradford-born English Muslim). Despite this, he is also utterly incompetent, with Ian being effortlessly fooled by a genuine illegal immigrant, an elderly foreigner, cause they had a fake passport saying they were a 12-year-old British girl.
  • Deputy: Bill Hollister sees ICE in this regard and holds their tactics in utter contempt, seeing this as a flagrant abuse of power and an insult to everything being a Sheriff's deputy stands for, with the first episode involving him facing disciplinary actions for disrupting an ICE-coordinated raid using the LA Sheriff's deputies. Upon becoming Sheriff, Hollister makes it clear to the senior ICE official that under his command the Sheriff's office will no longer support them in or participate in raids or mass roundups, only in the arrest of specific fugitives determined through the proper channels, despite Undersheriff Jerry London pointing out this will cost them the massive federal grant the cooperation nets them.
  • Desperate Housewives:
    • Played for Laughs in Season 5 when Susan embarks on a Citizenship Marriage to stop Jackson from being deported since he overstayed his welcome on his visa. Though most of the housewives are supportive, it's a Running Gag that characters (Katherine in particular, who wants Susan to marry Jackson) agree that they can't let Jackson go back to the big bad country of... Canada. Dave also furthers his revenge plot against Susan by reporting Jackson and getting him deported on their wedding day.
    • In Season 7, Gaby's backseat driving gets Hector arrested, which in turn puts on Hector and Carmen, who are Juanita's biological parents and Grace's adoptive parents (Juanita and Grace were Switched at Birth, and both Gaby and Carlos and Hector and Carmen raised each others' daughters without knowing it) on ICE's radar. Gaby was tempted to suggest that she and Carlos look after or even adopt Grace. However, upon realizing how much Hector and Carmen love Grace (and vice versa), she manages to pose as Carmen and get the drop on the bullying, armed ICE agents who come to the door. As a result, Carmen, Hector, and Grace are all forced to leave the Eagle State so that they aren't picked up again.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Carnival of Monsters" features Commissioner Kalik a snooty, egotistic xenophobic Inter Minoran official with political ambitions. Historically Inter Minor had banned all aliens from immigrating or even visiting (and all residents from leaving) following a horrific plague outbreak 2000 years previously, however, this rule has recently been repealed as part of a series of sweeping reforms by the new liberal President Zarb, Kalik's own brother. Outraged at this upon discovering two of the first alien visitors are a pair traveling showmen, Vorg and Shirna, who have brought with them a Minoscope (a device that miniaturises and traps individuals in time loops for the purpose of entertainment) Kalik sabotages it to release the trapped Drashigs, ignoring Vorg's warnings about how dangerous they are. Planning to scapegoat Vorg and Shirna for the disaster, Kalik will then use the outrage it sparks to force Zarb out of office and take over so he can restore the previous xenophobic laws. He ends up being the first one devoured alive by the Drashigs.
    • Following the numerous disasters, in a world without the Doctor in "Turn Left", causing Britain to become increasing restrictive and oppressive, it climaxes in the new government implementing "England for the English" laws but being unable to deport them due to borders being closed leads to armed soldiers rounding up immigrants (including Donna's Italian housemate Mr. Colasanto and his entire family) to send them to "Labour Camps", the sight of this causing her grandfather Wilf to break down to tears.
      Wilf: "Work camps". That's what they called them last time.
  • Evil: Minor recurring antagonist, the quiet mysterious ICE agent Adam Gardner secretly serves Doctor Leland Townsend and his satanic agenda, who uses his position to further Townsend's goals, such as arresting and deporting suspected Prophet Grace Ling. It is also him who Townsend dispatches to train budding Incel Sebastian in handling guns, out of Townsend's desire to groom the young man into becoming a mass shooter, with Adam doing his own part to corrupt Sebastian, assuring him that killing will prove him to be a real man.
  • FBI:
    • In "Salvation", following seventeen-year-old Jessica Sanchez risking her life to help the FBI put away the Gang members who murdered a teacher who tried to help free her, before they are able to get her safely into witness protection Jessica is arrested by ICE agents for being an undocumented immigrant and sentenced for deportation. Despite Isobel's best attempts, she's sent back to Mexico, into the Gang's stronghold despite it being effectively a death sentence for the poor girl.
    • Played With in "Protective Details" the killer is revealed to be motivated by his parents' deaths due to them being deported back to El Salvador after peacefully living in the US for decades in spite of the clear evidence they would be killed by the same brutal gang they originally fled from, and overall presented sympathetically, especially as the judge (his second victim) had a reputation for harsh decisions on undocumented immigrants and ensured they were deported before he had a chance to appeal. However, the ICE agent who arrested them (his first victim) is presented as simply a member of law enforcement doing their job (and implied to think the law is too strict). Likewise whilst the loudly anti-immigrant Congressman Grange initially comes across as a repugnant bigot and a stereotypical hard-nosed conservative, he turns out to have a sympathetic motivation and as he reveals to OA his actual views on immigration are really more moderate and nuanced, admitting that whilst he would prefer to focus more on his actual views, the reality is he's lagging behind in an election year and firebrand anti-immigrant rhetoric is what appeals to his voting base and financial backers.
    • FBI: Most Wanted: In the first crossover with the parent series, it's revealed the White Supremacist domestic terrorist group their facing has several ICE agents as members, including a branch head. In retaliation to the FBI capturing their leader, they launch a raid on a charity food bank to abduct Jess's daughter Talia (who is half Native American) with them threatening to deport her to a third world nation and destroy all records if the FBI doesn't halt their investigation into their activities. Jess likewise independently voices his disgust at the horrific conditions he witnesses whilst searching the detainment centres for her, and the investigation uncovers a secret chat room where a very large number of ICE agents (most of whom aren't even involved with the terrorists) discuss their contempt for immigrants many voicing their desire to hurt, rape or even kill them, with Jubal denouncing all who participate as a disgrace to everything being a federal agent stands for.
  • Law & Order:
    • Throughout the franchise, immigration authorities are often used as a Spanner in the Works. If a victim or witness is in the country illegally, one phone call from the Villain of the Week will cause them to be instantly deported. While the agents involved will usually show a lack of concern for how their actions will impact the prosecution of a heinous crime, they are rarely portrayed as outright evil, just Punch Clock Villains.
    • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: "Zero Tolerance" tackles the Trump Administration's Family Separation policy, with the children of migrants being separated from their families at the border and transported to detention centres. This leads to pre-pubescent Gabriela arriving in New York, circumstances conspiring to lead to her falling into a child sex trafficking ring. The detention centre itself is presented as outright dystopian with dozens of children locked behind chain link caging away from their families, sleeping on concrete floors with only thin mats and metallic emergency blankets for bedding. The Office of Refugee Resettlement officer Jeff Phelps overseeing Gabriela is likewise presented as a smug, smarmy man who is utterly apathetic to moral concerns of his actions, dismissing them as simply following the policy at the time.
  • Lie to Me: "Depraved Heart" features Lightman and his team stumbling upon a forced surrogacy operation, revealed to be led to by ICE agent Mike Personick. Personick abuses his position to force immigrants into being surrogates to his wealthy clients, keeping them in appalling conditions and then goading them into committing suicide when they are no longer anymore use to him.
  • Little Britain: In one recurring sketch, David Walliams plays a bigoted and unpleasant immigration officer at a major airport who considers his job to be all about turning away illegal entrants into Britain.
  • Madam Secretary:
    • "Hijriyyah" deals with Liz having to deal with Arizona Senator Carlos Morejo whose campaign runs heavily on an Anti-immigration platform, disrupting President Dalton's plans for the US to take in two hundred Libyan refugees, publicly arguing they could be terrorists. Liz confronts him over the fact that his own parents were refugees from Cuba which he dismisses, and falls into No True Scotsman when Liz points out that the terrorist attack he's using to justify his platform was committed by a natural-born citizen.
    • "Family Separation" parts 1 and 2 involve Liz having to deal with Governor Richard Barker, who has instigated a policy of separating the children from all undocumented immigrants who cross the border into his state. Even the cynical and politically apathetic Russel Jackson is disgusted by it.
  • New Amsterdam (2018): In the episode 'In a Strange Land', the New Amsterdam hospital is swamped by the arrival of a huge number of sick and injured illegal immigrants to the emergency room. Max and the rest of the hospital staff try to help them, and their efforts are stymied by the arrival of an Immigration team who would rather prefer to arrest them all and process them for deportation with no care about the possibility of them dying in the processing center.
  • On My Block: ICE Agents setting up in the neighbourhood is presented as one of the many issues the residents of Free Ridge have to put up with, presented in the same leagues of severity as the gang violence, poverty, and overbearing police presence. The agency itself is presented as ruthless, callous, and cruel, with them forcing the church clear out its sanctuary of undocumented immigrants.
  • Orange Is the New Black: ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is the overall villain of Season 7. The women are crammed into tiny bunk beds close together, the hotline (and only route to the outside world) is very expensive, and people are depicted as being deported without even having their rights correctly explained. When they finally find a phone card, the phone is broken.
    • Kids (clearly under the age of 10) are shown being forced to listen to immigration tribunals without lawyers. Babies are also crying without parents.
    • Pregnant inmate Santos Chaj is Guatemalan and is potentially miscarrying. ICE drags their feet on getting her medical attention and can't communicate to her that she hasn't miscarried because they can't be bothered to find a translator for her. Fig, usually an Ice Queen, is visibly shaken and insists on getting her a translator. Then, it turns out that Chaj doesn't want the child, but ICE refuses to take her to have an abortion. Fig has to break the rules to sneak the abortion pill to her.
    • Maritizia is picked up by ICE during a raid at a nightclub. She is deported in the middle of the night and without saying goodbye to the other inmates, despite knowing nobody in Columbia; she didn't even know she was born there (her mother had told her that she was born in the US).
    • Karla is a Struggling Single Mother to her two sons and an illegal immigrant from El Salvador. Her (now deceased) husband was a journalist and risked being murdered by gangs. However, Karla is detained by ICE and separated from her kids. She pleads to be allowed to raise her sons in America, who would be at risk of having to join murderous gangs (and she may be murdered by criminals who wanted her husband dead). Her sons are abandoned in foster care begging her to come back to them, the judge doesn't listen to Karla's pleas or her valiant efforts at an appeal, and she's deported to El Salvador where she knows no one. She is next shown on a long hike through the Mexican desert to get back to the USA, but falls off the trail and is injured. That's the last we see of her and, though the coyote promises to come back for her, it's likely that she either died of dehydration or was killed by an animal attack.
  • Queen Sugar: In season 4 Charley and Romero start a clinic for undocumented migrant workers, but it gets raided by ICE. Despite their best efforts to stand up to the ICE agents, they're ultimately powerless to stop ICE from taking their patients into custody. During the raid, Romero is asked to show his documentation and mentions to Charley that it isn't the first time he's dealt with this. Among those detained are a father and his two eldest sons, while his two younger sons are left behind because they are US citizens by birth. The younger sons are eventually placed in foster care because their mother left and their father can't return to the US.
  • Star Trek: Picard: In season 2, Picard and his new crew travels back in time to 2024 Los Angeles. Cristobal Rios is mistaken for an illegal immigrant when they raid a charity clinic and gleefully deported by a group of antagonistic ICE agents who are presented as needlessly aggressive, violent, and vindictive, before Seven and Rafi rescue him.
  • Superstore: When the employees start to organize a union, management attempts to shut them down with several underhanded and illegal measures including an ICE sweep, which was a problem for Mateo who entered the United States illegally with his parents when he was an infant. While management is portrayed as the real villain, the ICE agent in charge of the sweep said to Amy (who is Hispanic) "They look just like you and me. Well, like you."
  • S.W.A.T. (2017):
    • Invoked in "Fences", where an illegal immigrant fleeing an ICE Raid is apprehended and arrested by Street, who had no idea they were one and assumed they were just a regular criminal fleeing the authorities, leaving them facing deportation. Being in violation of California's status as a sanctuary state, it leads to SWAT facing a major public backlash, complete with the immigrant's sister leading a protest outside police headquarters, and putting Street in hot water with the brass. Matters are only made worse when all the publicity the case is receiving inspires radical anti-immigration group to kidnap and forcibly deport his sister.
    • In "Safe House" the team's sting operation to rescue a hostage from dangerous gang members is interrupted by ICE agents launching a surprise raid in the same area with them recklessly turning up guns blazing, throwing the entire situation into chaos and endangering multiple civilians all because ICE didn't bother to give local law enforcement a heads up to their activities, with one agent even nearly shooting Officer Chris Alonzo just for being a Latina woman. Commander Hicks, who holds a suspicion for all "three letter agencies" due to seeing them as arrogant, irresponsible glory hounds, openly admits to considering ICE easily the worst of them all.
  • The Twilight Zone (2019): The government agency hunting immigrants from another dimension in "Point Of Origin" are overall presented as vicious bigots, who despite all the immigrants we see being peaceful, honest, productive members who have long acclimatised to the new society are fixated on detaining then deporting them back overall for no other reason than they are technically different, justifying it with accusations of theirs's being a "lesser dimension" and their presence "diluting the natural evolution of our lives". Their detainment facility is concrete prison with no lighting, staffed by apathetic guards who don't care in the slightest about the prisoners well being, and their interrogators are merciless sadists who regularly utilise torture in ascertaining whether the accused is from another dimension.
  • Wisting: Downplayed but present, season three involves the Larvik police force investigating the murder of a child refugee, with their efforts to get the refugees to cooperate with them hampered by the issues and struggles that exist within Norway's immigration system. The centre in particular is fresh with the memories of a previous incident where a teenager from Afghanistan lost his refugee status when the authorities found a distant living relative and was forcibly deported, with the police arriving at six in the morning to drag him out of his bed. Overall the enforcers themselves are presented as simply doing their jobs, with Hammer stating he's never in his entire career encountered a police officer who wanted to be part of deportations, but Wisting accepts their reluctance to trust them is understandable and overall everyone admits the system fails far too often whilst the refugee's struggles are largely ignored.
  • Years and Years: The increasing anti-immigrant stance of the UK is presented as one of the signs of civil liberties being eroded.
    • As Daniel Lyons discovers to his horror following his boyfriend Viktor, a Ukrainian refugee arrested for working at a petrol station, whilst on paper he might possess options and rights to appeal in practice all deportations happen mere hours after arrest long before any of them can be explored.
    • Viktor is also an illegal immigrant only because he can't prove that he was tortured for being gay and his testimony isn't believed. He notes that this is deliberate; the regime uses electric torture to the feet because it leaves no visible marks and therefore can't be proven.
    • It's also noted that anti-immigrant sentiment has spread across most of the globe, with Spain being mentioned as particularly susceptible before the worst becomes clear in Britain.
    • Matters only continue to get even worse under Vivienne Rook regime whose solution to the rising immigrant and refugee crisis, is to simply imprison them all in secret concentration camps until they die, with the management subcontracted to private industries and at least one businessman boasting his intention to put no work into maintaining hygiene or any standards for the inmates to increase his own profits.
    • The detainment camps are also noted to be breeding grounds for the spread of the highly contagious and deadly strain of monkeypox, which is implied to be deliberate so it can infect and kill as many immigrants/refugees as possible. Even when the horrors of the camp have been revealed to the public, that hasn't been mitigated at all.

  • A View from the Bridge: The immigration authorities are seen this way by the Italian American community of the 1950s. When Eddie wants to stop Catherine's marriage to Rodolpho, Alfieri warns him that if he reports Rodolpho to immigration, he will be completely ostracized from the community and won't have a friend in the world.

    Video Games 
  • Fallout 2: Skeev, assistant custom official in Vault City, is a corrupt official selling false citizenship papers and enslaving the mentally challenged to sell them to the city. The rest of Vault City's immigration policies and enforcement aren't much better, with the city levelling huge fees from all foreign traders and being involved in slave trade. Any "Outsiders" caught within the city after curfew are imprisoned, and whilst they are permitted to live in the Court Yard (outside the city proper) it comes with a significant regular charge with them being deported for any late payments. Likewise the law is noticeably harsher upon outsiders than regular citizens, with even minor offenses netting imprisonment or even enslavement.
  • Genshin Impact: One of the Raiden Shogun's policies is the Sakokku Decree, which prohibits any travel into or out of Inazuma. This has notably caused a lot of problems in that it has stranded some of the nation's natives outside of the border and non-natives inside for over a year. It has also indirectly destroyed Inazuma's economy via hyperinflation due to there being almost no money from importing and exporting goods and services. Said decree was born from Ei's misguided concept of eternity, thinking that everything had to be forever unchanging regardless of what kinds of long-term damages it would cause. She eventually abolishes it after realizing just how much harm it and her other policies have harmed Inazuma and its populace, with Ei wanting to make up for all the needless suffering she inflicted.
  • Liberal Crime Squad: At C+ immigration and death penalty, illegal migrants arrested by the police are summarily executed.
  • Life Is Strange 2: The U.S. Border Patrol is depicted as being authoritarian, having constructed and finished a border wall spanning the southern United States which prevents Sean and Daniel from easily crossing. At the end of the game, they may arrest or kill Sean, depending on the various choices the player makes throughout the game. There's also a notable moment when two non-police vigilantes shoot Daniel after he destroys part of the wall, acting cruel and aggressive toward the brothers while detaining them.
  • Not Tonight: Being a game made in response to Brexit, it depicts a dystopian version of Britain where a fantastically Europhobic government has risen, threatening anyone who has less than two generations of citizenship with deportation unless they make an arbitrary amount of income every month. The player character has to deal with a Dirty Cop named Jupp who's been assigned to oversee their income, who repeatedly insults and threatens them over the course of the game.
  • Papers, Please has the player assume the role of a border patrol agent inspecting the paperwork of people trying to enter the country, a grim repressive totalitarian state. The player must decide whether to follow government protocol, often harsh and arbitrary (and regularly changing), or make their own judgment about the immigrants.

    Web Comics 
  • Kevin & Kell: Caniche the French poodle is being pursued by M.I.C.E. agents, who refuse to accept that she's in the country legally (which, to be fair, is because Lindesfarne Un Personed her to protect her from her former employers) or that the Kindles' tree is a sanctuary area.

    Web Videos 
  • There're some Porn niche studios like "Fake Border" and "Border 69" that invoke and plays with this trope, where usually girls are caught trespassing illegally, and the only way they get free by the corrupt male border officers is to let them cross to some other "borders". Even for more niche content, there're female officers that offer the same to male immigrants (or even female ones).

    Western Animation