PBS Premiere: June 5, 2000
Online: Feb. 9, 2015 – Feb. 9, 2016
Imagine that your life has fallen apart — maybe you've been tortured or raped, or maybe you've gotten out just in time. You'll have one chance to start a new life in the U.S., and an hour to tell your story to a neutral bureaucrat. Now imagine yourself on the other side of the desk, listening to people seeking refuge from any one of a hundred countries. The law says you can offer asylum if you find that someone has a well-founded fear of persecution. Three times a day, your job is to decide their fates. Political asylum — who deserves it? Who gets it? With unprecedented access, filmmakers Michael Camerini and Shari Robertson enter the closed corridors of the INS to reveal the dramatic real-life stage where human rights and American ideals collide with the nearly impossible task of trying to know the truth.
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Groundbreaking, as well as devastating … If it's life-and-death drama you're looking for, with entire futures hinging on a few words, this is the place to go.
— Kenneth Turan Los Angeles Times
One of the most talked-about and attended films at the Sundance Film Festival … we're taken behind the bulletproof glass, through the locked doors, under the fluorescent glare, down the forbidding hallways, and into the offices of the INS agents themselves.
— Duane ByrgeThe Hollywood Reporter
Sometimes the most engrossing television is also the hardest to watch … the viewer who sticks with it ends up rewarded but deeply rattled, on several levels.
— Neil Genzlinger The New York Times
... Occasionally there comes along a programme that's simply humbling... I haven't seen anything to touch this...
— Gerard O'Donovan The Daily Telegraph, London