Saturday, June 30, 2018

The case for abolishing ICE

Breaking the Ice - Robert Koehler, Counterpunch:

March 16, 2018 - "Immigration and Customs Enforcement ... ICE, a branch of the Department of Homeland Security, was created in 2003, 'a direct product of the post-Sept. 11 panic culture,' as Sean McElwee put it in The Nation. Its establishment reframed immigration as a national security issue, which is to say, an exploitable source of national fear. We must protect ourselves from the illegals! The agency’s mission ... appears to be the dehumanization of people of color born outside the United States..... It has the moral resonance of the Klan, or maybe the Brownshirts....

"The time, as McElwee notes, has come to defund — to abolish — ICE: not just the agency itself, but to 'abolish the function' of ICE, which is to keep immigrant communities in a state of terror.

"'The agency talks about, and treats, human beings like they’re animals,' he writes. 'They scoop up people in their apartments or their workplaces and take them miles away from their spouses and children.'

"Indeed, the time has come to abolish the presence of an official 'other': a targeted group of people who have been legally defined in dehumanizing terminology, e.g., 'criminal aliens.' This is domestic war, the sole purpose of which is the maintenance of a top-down, authoritarian social order....

"Jonathan Blitzer, writing last summer in the New Yorker, described his communication, initially off the record, with an ICE employee who was growing increasingly alarmed at what was happening to the agency. Eventually, he gave Blitzer permission to publish his observations.

"'During the campaign, many rank-and-file agents publicly cheered Trump’s pledge to deport more immigrants, and, since Inauguration Day, the Administration has explicitly encouraged them to pursue the undocumented as aggressively as possible,' Blitzer writes, describing what the agent called an unleashing of contempt among many of the ICE guys for the immigrant community.

"Whatever the agents’ private opinions were, ICE itself had a standard of integrity, but that’s no longer the case. 'Now people are bringing their own opinions into work,' the agent said....

"Racism continues to regroup around an ever-shifting other. This is world — certainly it’s American — history. Fortunately, it’s only part of our history. The same awareness and intelligence that birthed the civil rights movement is driving the phenomenon of sanctuary cities. A welcoming attitude makes everyone safer."

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