On this week’s Grey’s Anatomy (Thursdays at 7 p.m. ET on CTV), the long-running series took on one of the biggest issues in the United States today, specifically President Trump’s position on DACA. Focusing the story of one of the newest additions to Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, the episode showed just how damaging and terrifying deportation is for the 800,000 Dreamers currently living in the US.
With 24 episodes each year, Grey’s Anatomy features one of the longest seasons on prime time. Add in a huge cast with multiple ongoing storylines and it can be difficult for the series to remain timely, with episodes requiring advanced writing and shooting time before they go to air. That’s why Thursday’s episode was even more impressive, with the show focusing on a topic that continues to be in the news in the wake of the Trump administration and their rulings.
When an agent from ICE arrives at the hospital to investigate one of the new surgical residents, we don’t have to wait long to find out that it’s Dr. Sam Bello that’s he looking for. After a lot of stalling on Bailey’s part and even diagnosing the agent as a heart attack risk who needs surgery immediately, we find out that Sam is likely to be deported back to El Salvador for running a red light after working 36 hours at the hospital. Sadly, her story is relatable to the thousands of Dreamers currently living in the US. Leaving El Salvador at the age of one after her father was shot and killed on the family’s front porch, Sam has worked hard to make a better life for her mom and sister, graduating at the top of her class and getting into Grey Sloan’s prestigious residency program.
Throughout the episode, the doctors discuss several options for Sam to avoid being deported, with each scenario falling short of anything as appealing as staying in Seattle with the man she loves, while working at the job she loves. After debating Sam faking her own death and crossing the border to Canada, Meredith finally comes up with a plan that allows Sam to continue practicing medicine without making her legal situation worse. Our beloved Cristina Yang was able to save the day by making a spot for Sam at her practice in Switzerland, with Sam voluntarily leaving the country and hopefully making it possible to eventually return.
As pointed out during Thursday’s episode, Dreamers don’t have the option to marry an American citizen to secure their citizenship, with Andrew’s idea being shot down by Sam’s reality check that many Dreamers who are currently married to Americans can still face deportation.
Unfortunately, most people in real life don’t have Sam’s options and support. This past March, many Dreamers protected with DACA-related permits had their status expire, throwing hundreds of thousands of people who have spent most of their lives in the US facing deportation to countries where they have no friends or family and may not even speak the language. Grey’s Anatomy has already taken on police shootings and discrimination in the transgender community this season and has now added yet another impressive episode exploring the complicated and concerning issue of immigration in the US.
Also, don’t think we forgot about that cliffhanger ending. After Jackson removed a NDA order for a doctor Amelia wanted to work with, we learned that whatever this doctor couldn’t talk about has Jackson’s mother Catherine shoooook. The final line of Thursday’s episode, with Catherine telling Richard “None of us are alright. Jackson ruined us,” feels like at least a mid-season finale ending, but we’ll take our cliffhangers wherever we can get them.