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In a column and cartoon on cleveland.com, Jeff Darcy raises just a few of the issues that explain this number. He starts with controversy surrounding the political police force known as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which has been separating parents from American children at an accelerated pace since Trump took office, causing a major backlash.
Darcy points to a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, signed by nineteen Special Agents in Charge at Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). These leaders want HSI to be formally separated from ICE’s deportation machine, a.k.a. Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), due to the “political nature” of that organization. In polite bureaucrat-speak, the Special Agents in Charge write:
The disparate functions performed by ERO and HSI often cause confusion among the public, the press, other law enforcement agencies and lawmakers because the two missions are not well understood and are erroneously combined. ERO’s administrative actions have been mistaken for illegal investigations and warrantless searches. HSl’s investigations have been perceived as targeting undocumented aliens, instead of the transnational criminal organizations that facilitate cross border crimes impacting our communities and national security. Furthermore, the perception of HSI’s investigative independence is unnecessarily impacted by the political nature of ERO’s civil immigration enforcement. Many jurisdictions continue to refuse to work with HSI because of a perceived linkage to the politics of civil immigration. Other jurisdictions agree to partner with HSI as long as the “ICE” name is excluded from any public facing information. HSI is constantly expending resources to explain the organizational differences to state and local partners, as well as to Congressional staff, and even within our own department—DHS.
More bluntly, as Darcy puts it: “The agents want to be in their own agency separated from the Trump Gestapo unit that separates families, detains them without due process, violates asylum laws and doesn’t keep accurate records of who they separated and where they are at.”
Darcy also highlights the family separation crisis that Trump’s Administration has created, but not fixed, at our nation’s border. He points out that the Department of Health and Human Services’ continuously revised estimates of how many children are in government custody points to shoddy accounting and no plan for reuniting these broken families.
This government-sponsored kidnapping drove thousands of Ohioans to #FamiliesBelongTogether rallies across the state last weekend, and inspired millions of dollars in donations to groups assisting the families. Congressman Tim Ryan recently visited children separated from their parents on the southern border and relocated to Michigan. He issued the following statement:
What I saw today brought home all the conversations that have been had about this issue so far. I wish every American could see these kids and hear their stories. It’s gut-wrenching. Children are traveling by themselves or with their loved ones to avoid violence and danger in their country, and they fled to the United States to find safety and security. They are doing what any responsible parent would do. But when they arrive at our border, the Trump Administration turns its back on our values and rips children away from their parents – with zero plan to bring them back together. This is state-sponsored abuse. From its founding, America has always been a country of immigrants. Men, women, and children came to our shores to avoid war and famine, economic scarcity, and religious persecution. They came from every corner of the world, with different backgrounds, skills, and challenges. Woven together, these differences helped strengthen our nation and make it what it is today. We should not turn our backs on the history and values that made us who we are.
The family separations crisis also inspired Bishop Nelson Perez of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland to announce a “special Mass offering prayers for immigrant families and for progress toward comprehensive and compassionate immigration reform.” At noon on July 8 at Sacred Heart Chapel in Lorain, Bishop Perez will ask that we “challenge ourselves to reject any indifference towards so many of our brothers and sisters who only seek a better life,” and offer “prayers for the men, women and children who seek a place in the land of the free; and for our legislative leaders, that they work together to find meaningful solutions to this humanitarian crisis which challenges our country.”
Melanated Media News recently produced two compelling videos based on footage from the Cleveland Families Belong Together rally last Saturday. The first features Jimmy Rodriguez, a DACA beneficiary who watched his father get arrested during the immigration raid at Corso’s. Jimmy went back to work hours later, and has been working 15 hours a day, six days a week since then. His plans for college have been put on the shelf now that Jimmy is the sole provider for his family.
The second video includes speeches by teen organizer Natalia Alonso with Los Niños de Corsos and Dr. Needlman, the modern-day author of the Dr. Spock baby books, both concerned about the psychological impact that deportation and family separation are having on children.
At the end of his column, Darcy riffs off of the #AbolishICE movement inspired by out of control deportations under Trump, and prescribes his own solution: “Abolish ICE abuse.” He writes:
As originally conceived, ICE served a vital need and had a reputable mission. The problem is not the concept of ICE, it’s that ICE has been abused and misused by the President Trump, zero tolerance policy mastermind Stephen Miller, Chief of Staff John Kelly, and DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
Keep ICE as one agency, or reorganize it into two, as the agents suggested, but abolish the abuse of ICE and it’s original mission.
Lynn Tramonte, Director of America’s Voice Ohio, said: “There are many reasons to disapprove of Trump’s handling of immigration, which is why so many Americans do. From the deportation of valued community members who have lived here for decades, to the cancellation of DACA, to the trauma our government is inflicting upon children, these policies and practices go against our core values of fairness, equality, and opportunity. Trump’s policies are about making America ‘hate again,’ not ‘great again,’ and it’s heartening to see so many rejecting his vision for our country.”