Abolishing ICE isn’t radical, it’s obvious

Kevin Leon

keleon@ursinus.edu

The United States brands itself as the land of opportunity. The country was built by immigrants and has continually championed itself as such. It’s this branding that has persuaded people to immigrate here in an attempt to improve their lives. The current administration is increasingly crushing these aspirations through xenophobic rhetoric and harmful policies, but the worst offender is the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

Don’t let anyone tell you that ICE is a vital part of the United States’ government. The department was created in 2002 by former President George W. Bush, which means it’s only 16 years old. The country operated without it for most of its existence, so abolishing ICE should not be labeled a “radical” idea.

During former president Obama’s first term, ICE retained the same policies it had under the Bush administration and the number of deportations increased. In Obama’s second term, he refocused the agencies priorities. Obama argued that ICE should primarily target criminals. Even that strategic pivot should be met with scrutiny, however. Having a criminal record does not make someone deserving of deportation. Police have been accused of racially profiling latino drivers for traffic stops, according to the “Los Angeles Times.” A distinction between “good” and “bad” immigrants based on criminal records isn’t clear-cut.

Now, under Trump’s presidency, ICE’s goal will be to deport any undocumented immigrants. Last year, ICE made 143,000 arrests – an increase of 30 percent from the previous year. Trump isn’t focused on just criminals anymore. The new goal has led ICE to commit atrocities towards undocumented people.

In March, an ICE pursuit in Kern County, California caused the death of two parents. ICE misidentified Santos Hilario Garcia for the person they were targeting for deportation. Their pursuit led to him crashing his vehicle and dying along with his wife, Marcelina Garcia Perfecto. These two people were undocumented, but they weren’t the intended targets. ICE blamed the incident on Los Angeles for being a sanctuary city and ultimately faced no consequences. These kind of events are not uncommon and the frequency of them will only increase as ICE continues to target all undocumented immigrants.

Taxpayers are funding at- tacks on American communities. ICE raids have separated children with citizenship from their undocumented parents. The agency’s leaders have expressed no remorse about these actions, as the previous director, Thomas Homan, stated earlier this year on national television, “If you’re in this country illegally and you committed a crime by being in this country, you should be uncomfortable, you should look over your shoulder. You need to be worried.” He also threatened to incarcerate local officials in sanctuary cities that don’t cooperate with ICE. The acting director, Ronald D. Vitiello, implemented family separation policies along the border this past summer.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement is a judicially- untouchable police force with totalitarian tendencies, which goes against what the U.S. claims it stands for: a free and prosperous society.

Living in fear is the opposite of that, but since undocumented immigrants are dehumanized by the term “illegal alien,” a significant portion of the country overlooks their mistreatment.

The United States should abolish ICE. This agency costs the government $5.8 billion a year. That money funds a police- state that dehumanizes and mistreats people without repercussions. It strips people of their families and homes, sometimes even their lives. Getting rid of this agency is the only acceptable solution. It’s been encouraging
to see this position go from an untenable, left-wing idea to a more mainstream one.

Getting rid of ICE won’t solve America’s problem of cruelty towards brown people from Latin America. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) is intertwined with ICE. Just this week, CBP fired tear gas over the border at Central American migrants seeking asylum. This alarming action should also cause us to question CBP’s practices. This iteration of that agency came about through the Homeland security Act of 2002. It’s another 16-year-old agency that should be scrutinized and at least reformed.

Undocumented immigrants are still people, and the government should not overlook that fact just because they were not born on U.S. soil. Abolishing ICE is the clear step morally and ethically.