Why Unshackling ICE and CBP is a Recipe for Cruelty and Chaos

Feb. 27, 2017 – White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer recently praised the DHS immigration enforcement memos — which provide a detailed blueprint for mass deportation — for taking “the shackles off” ICE and Border Patrol agents.

Below are just a few examples of what has happened since the “unshackling” began:

  • In a Los Angeles Times op-ed, Sandra Hernandez, a former journalist for the L.A. Daily Journal, summarizes her long history covering ICE: “Given ICE’s disturbing track record for ignoring legal limits, the excesses we’re hearing about now shouldn’t come as a surprise … The president says he will keep our country safe. ICE appears to have decided that when it cannot find serious criminals, it will protect us from the depredations of students, nannies and strawberry pickers.”
  • Let us not forget the stories of people who were leading ordinary lives before ICE decided  that under Trump’s new “priorities” everyone is a priority: Daniel Ramirez Medina (the DACA recipient still detained in Washington state); Jose Escobar (ripped away from his US citizen wife and children because he missed a court date) Miguel Angel Torres in Texas (arrested in a case of mistaken identity); Guadalupe Garcia De Los Rayos in Arizona (deported away from her U.S. citizen kids for working with fake papers); Jeanette Vizguerra in Colorado (who sought sanctuary in a church rather than risk a meeting with ICE), and others.

Meanwhile, the prospect of an unshackled CPB is just as unsettling. Ahead of the impending release of the revised Muslim ban, a leaked DHS intelligence analysis disputes the idea that citizens from these seven nations pose a unique threat, calling citizenship an “unreliable indicator of terrorist threat to the United States.” But no matter — as the below examples underscore, CBP is already busy sowing fear and chaos independent from the realities of who may seek to do us harm:

  • A recent New Yorker article on CBP noted, “We’re now seeing a preview of what happens when Border Patrol agents feel emboldened to take matters into their own hands … [after the initial Muslim ban executive order] One complaint, filed to the inspector general of the D.H.S. by the Center for Constitutional Rights and Cardozo Law School, detailed twenty-six accounts from lawyers and families members who were prevented from seeing clients and relatives being held by C.B.P. agents at airports. When C.B.P. agents were pressed to explain the situation, their answers ranged from ‘Just following orders’ to ‘Call Mr. Trump.’ Invoking the President was their cover.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:

“When a President gives the green light to federal law enforcement agencies that target vulnerable immigrants and operate with impunity, this is what you get: out of control police forces that declares open season on anyone they encounter. This is not the America we aspire to be. Both the policy and the implementation of the policy run counter to our self-proclaimed identity as a nation that welcomes immigrants and refugees.”

The mission of America’s Voice (AV) and America’s Voice Education Fund (AVEF) is to harness the power of American voices and American values to enact policy change that guarantees full labor, civil and political rights for immigrants and their families. www.americasvoice.org