NBC’s Law and Order: Special Victims Unit has had quite the provocative season this year, from raping conservative women to euthanizing babies to standing up for transgender soldiers. Although this show has come to a close for the summer, they still managed to squeeze one more liberal push to its viewers. This time, we follow the plight of two different types of illegal immigrant.
The two-part May 23 finale “Remember Me” and “Remember Me Too” kicks off when a woman named Lourdes (Genesis Rodriguez) kidnaps Miguel Lopez (Carlos Miranda) at gunpoint after she claims he raped her five years ago. As Lieutenant Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) dives deeper into the kidnapping, she manages to stop Lourdes from killing Miguel, though the other authorities are unsure whether Lourdes’s claim is true. When a building owner turns up dead at Lourdes’s hand, she winds up on trial for murder rather than assessed for rape.
The plot above is pretty standard for an SVU episode. As we reach the second half, however, the situation drastically changes politically. Olivia soon learns that Lourdes was actually the victim of human trafficking, arriving in the country illegally under a drug cartel's smuggling operation. Because of this, Lourdes has lived in fear of both Border Patrol and the drug cartel. Her near victim and possible rapist Miguel, by contrast, came to the United States as a baby, was recognized under DACA as a DREAMer, and made an upstanding career (as all DACA recipients do, according to Hollywood) in web design.
In a final scene with Detective Rollins (Kelli Giddish), she talks about how much she sacrificed to be a “good American,” while Miguel gets it for free.
Rollins: You know, if you cooperate with us, we can offer you asylum, Lourdes!
Lourdes: I heard stories. I watched shows on television about the risks girls take when crossing the border. It was worth it to me. I was willing to hide from Border Patrol. To crawl through the desert if I had to, to go without food or water for days. I was willing to be shoved like an animal in the back of a van. I was willing to take it from Miguel. Anything to be an American. And I'd be a good American, too. I'd work my way up from the bottom. All I wanted was a chance. I went through hell and back to get here, Detective. And what did Miguel do? Su mamita brought him here when he was a baby, on a bus! And he can stay. He gets to be a real American because your president signs a piece of paper. And me? I will always be an illegal. And now I have to die, because I wanted to be what he was given for free. Tell Mr. Stone I'll take his deal.
Somehow, this finale changed from a brash kidnapping to a plea for poor illegal immigrants. We already knew DACA isn't fair to all the people trying to become citizens the legal way, but now we find out it's unfair to regular illegal immigrants, too. All Lourdes wants is a chance to be a citizen, and I guess if we give DACA students legal status, we have to give it to her, too. Republicans are just heartless for not taking this fictional story into account.
In a surprising twist, however, Miguel admits to being part of the cartel that kidnapped Lourdes and reveals he did, in fact, rape her those years ago. While it might prove that not all DREAMers are upstanding citizens, this also stems from Miguel’s insecurities on being an illegal immigrant since he claims no one else would have hired him years ago. So now, we can even blame his crimes on the fact that he is not a U.S. citizen. What a convenient setup.
The show is really banking us to feel sorry for illegal immigrants and grant them amnesty based on stories that apply to maybe a fraction of the 11 million undocumented citizens we have. Luckily for us, we don’t draft policy based on SVU episodes.