In a new piece for The Guardian, Trevor Timm reports on the escalation of arrests of undocumented immigrants with no criminal record. It seems, he suggests, as if there’s an “internal contest” among ICE agents to see “who can participate in the most cruel and inhumane arrest possible.”
Timm’s piece is excerpted below or available in full online here.
The [ICE] agency, emboldened by Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric, is out of control – and Congress is doing little to stop them.
Depraved stories like this are now almost too prevalent to comprehensively count: Ice has arrested undocumented immigrants showing up for scheduled green card appointments at a US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office. They’ve arrested a father after dropping his daughter off at school. An Ice detainee was even removed forcefully against her will from a hospital where she was receiving treatment for a brain tumor.
In a particularly dangerous policy, Ice been arresting people inside US courthouses around the country. “Attorneys and prosecutors in California, Arizona, Texas and Colorado have all reported teams of Ice agents – some in uniform, some not – sweeping into courtrooms or lurking outside court complexes, waiting to arrest immigrants who are in the country illegally,” reported the LA Times in March.
It apparently doesn’t matter that the agency has faced stiff resistance from judges and prosecutors over this policy, who have both claimed that it will mean people won’t show up to court. And fears are not just conjecture: a Denver city attorney was recently forced to drop four domestic violence cases because the witnesses were too afraid to come into court for fear of being deported.
Early in his presidency, Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, said the president wanted to “take the shackles off” Ice agents so they could conduct more arrests, eerily echoing the CIA’s comments post-9/11 that they would “take the gloves off” in response to the terrorist attack.
The CIA followed that statement with a years-long, worldwide torture program that violated domestic and international law for which they still have not been held accountable, and it’s increasingly clear Ice is following a similar path.
While some Democrats have introduced bills to curtail some of Ice’s most egregious transgressions, Republicans, who control both houses of Congress, have shown little if any interest in reining in Ice. The agency is so harmful to civil rights, there’s a good argument it should be disbanded altogether, but unfortunately it seems they are only becoming more emboldened with each passing week.