To Stay Illegally Or To Die

The journalist Sorious Samura can't get his head around why migrants to Europe risk their lives for menial jobs and loneliness.

Sorious Samura.

I am not sure about the ethics involved in making this film or how truthful the experiences of Sierra Leonean-British journalist Sorious Samura are, but “Living with Illegals,” his 50 minute documentary (made for British television) is depressing viewing. To investigate undocumented migration from Africa to the European Union, Samura (who is originally from Sierra Leone and made films about the civil war there) decides to become an undocumented migrant.

He freely mixes with migrants in Morocco, Spain, France and the UK (the final destination for most of them) and puts his life at risk: He sleeps rough, begs, trusts smugglers, and hides in trucks to cross borders. It is unclear how much of this real.

Samura is definitely pro-immigration. And after a while you root for these men. (He does not interview women migrants although you some women migrants once in the film.)  In the end, you root for the migrants. At times he can’t get his head around why these migrants risk their lives for menial jobs and loneliness.  One tells him: “I am ready to do any kind of job. If I have to I’ll wash the toilets, bathrooms or train stations and I’ll be very happy. Forget I am a graduate.”

Later a Sudanese migrant who has been deported three times from the UK and who Samura grows close to, tells the filmmaker: “I have no choice. What do you prefer? To stay illegally or to die?”

Further Reading

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Drug use among young people in Nairobi’s slums is on the rise. Youth also face arbitrary arrests by the police, resulting in jail time which turns them into hardcore criminals in a vicious cycle.