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CLE Film Screening: Netflix’s “Living Undocumented” Features Ohio Mauritanian Family

Cleveland, OH – An Ohio family with Mauritanian roots is featured in a new documentary series on Netflix called “Living Undocumented.” Ohio Immigrant Alliance and ACLU of Ohio are hosting a screening of the 40-minute episode on October 7 at 6pm at the ACLU offices (4506 Chester Ave, Cleveland, Ohio 44103).  

Immediately following the screening, an Q&A session with the audience will explore issues related to representation in the media, incarceration and its impacts on individuals and families, and immigration policy. Ohio State Rep. Stephanie Howse and Agnes Igodan, JD are featured guests in this discussion.

Executive produced by Selena Gomez, the Netflix series is an intimate look into the lives of eight U.S. families who are facing and fighting the deportation of a loved one, including the Sows of Cincinnati. 

Ohioans first came to know Amadou Sow and his family in 2018, when the Cincinnati Enquirer began chronicling their plight to remain together in the country they call home. Sow is one of several Black Mauritanians who fled slavery and genocide more than twenty years ago, looking for a safe place and choosing Ohio. Cleveland Scene has also been chronicling these stories here.

As Houleye Thiam, President of the Mauritanian Network for Human Rights in US, told an audience at Just North Church in Columbus: “Dictators are weapons of mass destruction. Immigration is not always a choice. People don’t just pack up everything and leave family behind because they’re feeling ‘adventurous.’ Mauritanians are fleeing something bigger than themselves.”

Thiam says that the Netflix series featuring a Mauritanian family is “greatly welcome in our community, as it puts Mauritanian issues in the spotlight and heightens the urgency of the moment, that no Black Mauritanian should be deported to a country where he faces racial discrimination and possibly slavery.” 

With a change in policy under Trump, long-term U.S. residents like Sow were suddenly being deported despite their significant family ties and decades of contributions. Sow’s wife and American children struggled, emotionally and financially, as their father remained locked up in Ohio jails. 

More than once Sow was nearly deported, but today he is home in Cincinnati with his family. He is also getting a second chance at asylum.

Others, unfortunately, met a different fate. Issa Sao, also of Cincinnati, was deported to Mauritania and currently lives exiled in another country–miles away from his U.S. citizen wife and young children.

A watch party is taking place in Cleveland on October 7 at 6pm, hosted by the Ohio Immigrant Alliance and ACLU of Ohio. More information and RSVP here.

All requests for information and interviews with documentary participants must be made to Netflix via Krista Sonnhalter (KSonnhalter@alliedglobalmarketing.com).

Follow the Ohio Immigrant Alliance on Twitter @tramontela