Most episodes of Grey’s Anatomy makes me cry. In fact, I’m pretty much all over the emotional spectrum when it comes to this show. But last night’s episode titled “Beautiful Dreamer” made me angry. As a writer that covers immigration, I was extremely curious to see how Grey’s Anatomy would tackle immigration, specifically the Dreamers.
Define American, an organization that fights injustice and anti-immigrant hate through storytelling, was consulted on this episode which would add an authentic storyline. The episode centers around Dr. Sam Bello, an intern obsessed with Dr. Andrew Deluca. When Bello first joined the cast I was elated because I missed seeing a Latina on the show after actress Sara Ramirez left the show. Bello was funny, quirky, and a go-getter. I loved that her relationship with Deluca began to evolve, and surely would become one of the “it” couples on the show.
In this episode [spoiler alerts], we learn more about Bello after an immigration officer — otherwise known as an ICE official — came to the hospital to look for her. Bello’s bosses — Meredith Grey and Miranda Bailey — both approach Bello to figure out why an immigration officer is requesting her. Bello tells them that she came to the U.S. as a 1-year-old from El Salvador. She tells them she’s protected under her Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status, and reassures them that she hasn’t broken any laws. So her supervisors stall the officer by telling him that Bello is busy with a surgery.
More than ever, we need STORIES to humanize people and liberate them from the limits of partisan politics. Thank you for your leadership, @shondarhimes: https://t.co/k3p9UwG0SS @GreysABC @DefineAmerican
— Jose Antonio Vargas (@joseiswriting) April 13, 2018
Here’s where I begin to get peeved. Bailey realizes that the ICE officer has some health issues and needs to be checked out. It begins as a way to stall him, but then it turns out that he’s in danger of having a heart attack. Here we go…is what I’m thinking. Let’s have some compassion for the ICE officer, is that where this is going? The only part about that story premise that I appreciated is when the officer begins to confide to Bailey. “I don’t know why we’re doing this,” he says. He begins to unload about detaining children at school, taking in doctors, etc. Yes, detaining people for no fault of their own is idiotic so it’s good to say that on primetime TV. But then before his surgery he goes on to say that he will have to call another officer to detain Bello.
So what did she do to make ICE come after her? She apparently ran a red light. That’s it! But again, that’s not the part that really made me angry.
Once word gets out that ICE is looking to deport Bello, they begin to offer her ideas of how to get out of it. She can marry Deluca! Yeah, marrying a U.S. citizen to secure status for a DACA beneficiary, that should work right? Wrong. Bello informs them that it’s not as easy as it sounds. In fact, that’s a huge misconception about gaining citizenship and some Dreamers are currently stuck in another country because of it. Then her boyfriend says “let’s run away to Canada.” But her supervisors advise, “don’t run, don’t become what they want you to be”. And we all know what happens to people when they flee from ICE. Another friend suggests Bello escape, changes her name and her whole life. But Bello says to them that the idea of changing her whole identity after being in the top of her class, studying medicine, and becoming a freakin’ doctor is absurd.
Then there’s a solution: she’s going to continue working as a doctor in Switzerland. Meredith got her a position to work in Switzerland, which is apparently allowed to do because it means she is continuing her studies. Which means she can remain a doctor but just in another country where her life won’t be in danger. And so she goes. Just like that, she leaves her whole life because she ran a red light. Because her parents brought her to the U.S. to escape violence and death in their native country. That’s the part that infuriated me.
I am so glad that one of my favorite shows took on the battle that Dreamers are facing in this country, but I also wish they would have shown more of the reality that they also endure. Not all Dreamers are doctors. Not all Dreamers have friends in high places. Some of them actually go back. They return to a country they don’t know. They now live in a place where every day is uncertain, where they may be killed or even worse, experience unending torture.
I wish Dreamers like Bello were as accomplished — many of them are — but many them, however, don’t have the luxury to have options. Many of them are taken away, separated from their families, and never heard from again. That is why I’m angry. Having said that, we do need more stories like this to be told. We need people everywhere to grasp what is happening in this country. Maybe then will there be an end.