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ICYMI: Savage Take on ICE

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With his characteristic honesty, thoroughness and bite, columnist Dan Savage takes on ICE. In the tradition of AIDS activists who “named names” at the CDC and the FDA when those agencies were dragging their feet as the AIDS crisis exploded, Savage calls out Marc J. Moore, the ICE Director of the Seattle regional field office, as one of the many bureaucrats who keeps his head low even as he destroys immigrant families and futures on a daily basis.

Read excerpts of Savage’s column from The Stranger below and read the full piece herePlease be advised that the column contains explicit language.

“ICE is out of control,” goes the headline at Slate. “Donald Trump’s ICE is tearing families apart,” goes the headline at the New Yorker. “ICE wants to deport the caregiver of a 6-year-old paraplegic boy,” goes the headline at Daily Kos. “ICE targets sanctuary cities, arrests 33 in Northwest,” goes the headline at NPR.

Reading these stories, we learn that ICE just arrested a 55-year-old chemistry professor in Lawrence, Kansas, who’s lived in this country for 31 years and has three children, all of whom are American citizens; according to the Washington Post, he was arrested on his front lawn in front of his children, and his wife was threatened with arrest if she tried to hug her husband goodbye. We learn that after ICE moved to deport a married man in Arizona who now has five children, one of whom has leukemia, the father was forced to take refuge in a church with his ailing son. We learn that ICE denied an appeal from an Ohio man who is a specially trained caregiver for a 6-year-old paraplegic boy who depends on his care. We learn that ICE ordered an HIV-positive gay man in Miami deported to Venezuela, a country in a state of economic collapse; since the man won’t be able to get the medications he needs to keep him alive, his deportation amounts to a death sentence.

Every day ICE rounds up more and more law-abiding but undocumented residents of the United States, many of whom were brought here as children. “ICE made a hundred and forty thousand arrests last year, an increase of thirty per cent compared to the year before, and the number of so-called non-criminal arrests has doubled,” reports the New Yorker about Trump’s first year in office.

ICE tosses men, women, and children into for-profit prisons before sending them back to countries where they may have no family and, in many cases, don’t speak the language. ICE is tearing American families apart and destroying children’s lives. “Researchers have found that [the American children of deportees] often bounce around among relatives, suffer in school and display self-destructive behaviors, such as cutting themselves,” New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has written.

We write and we talk about ICE like it’s a natural disaster—like it’s a hurricane or an earthquake or a wildfire. This terrible thing happened because of ICE, that terrible thing happened because of ICE. But ICE isn’t an impersonal, uncontrollable, unaccountable force of nature. ICE, like corporations or Soylent Green, is people. ICE is people who are being paid to do unbelievably cruel things to other people. And if you’re a US taxpayer, these unbelievably cruel things are being done in your name and on your dime. The ICE agents who threatened to arrest that chemistry professor’s wife if she tried to hug him goodbye? Those people work for you.

ICE is not a force of nature. It is not a faceless, malevolent force. It’s a US federal law enforcement agency under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security. ICE has an annual budget of $5.34 billion, the agency employs more than 20,000 people, and as a matter of policy this agency ships deportees out of this country in shackles. ICE is headquartered in Washington, DC, it has more than 400 field offices across the country, and 24 of those field offices are Enforcement and Removal Operation (ERO) centers. One of ICE’s ERO centers is located in Seattle. The acting head of the Seattle ERO office is not an unknown bureaucrat, but an actual human being with a name: Marc J. Moore.

And you know what? Fuck that guy. Fuck Marc J. Moore.