I.C.E. Continues to Show Just How Cold it Really Is…
I.C.E. Continues to Show Just How Cold it Really Is…
Dom Belcastro & Jake Edgar
The US and other American lands are the fruits of brutal colonial campaigns waged by multiple European autocracies that were enthusiastically inherited by their white American descendants. The birth of these United States began with genocide on Native peoples, chattel enslavement of African peoples, and mass forced displacement of both. This dynamic has warped and changed over the years from Manifest Destiny to the Civil War, Jim Crowe War on Drugs, PATRIOT Act, etc. Donald Trump is the current iteration of this evolving American spirit. His version of government echoes the mindset of a deeply patriarchal and ethnocentric (translation: racist / xenophobic) ethos that the ‘founding fathers’ almost universally espoused. The commentary that can be written about this man and his government’s actions is voluminous, and is already being made by many media sources, every minute of every day. This commentary hopes to emphasize the threat that Trump presents to immigrant, but especially undocumented communities across the country.
Recall the first press event of the Donald Trump presidential campaign: A golden escalator in Trump Tower to whisk the infamous real estate empire heir to the stage fits the ‘unique class’ the star of the Celebrity Apprentice inspires. A paid audience to witness the alleged serial sexual abuser, and former casino owner, state that rapists, drug dealers and criminals of all kinds are invading the US through Mexico. This fragile president, born into the highest echelons of wealth by a racist, bigoted, landlording patriarch, named his enemies and promised a wall on day one. Since his election, we have seen policies and executive orders issued to actualize his anti-immigrant agenda. Bans on immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, a freeze on refugee resettlement, proposed reductions on legal immigration, these actions and more represent the steps to providing the anti immigrant of color (shithole countries anyone?) campaign that the POTUS has been trumpetting since his election.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials lead the charge against the President’s many targets within the country. Stories abound of ICE agents around the US arresting undocumented people in increasingly unusual situations. Whether they were working on a military construction site, dropping their child off for school, or even serving as a veteran defense attorney in the halls of a Pasadena courthouse, ICE agents are finding ways to detain. Portland also saw reports of ICE agents operating in the Multnomah Courthouse early 2017, a startling slap in the face of public trust in institutions.
We have seen retaliatory arrests performed by ICE on activists and organizers in the immigrant community, such as Ravi Ragbir in New York, who speak out about immigration injustices. Members of No More Deaths, an organization that fights to end border crossing casualties, had been served misdemeanor littering charges for leaving supplies like water and blankets for border crossers the past year. Most recently, a volunteer with the group was served a federal felony charge for harbouring unauthorized immigrants by feeding hungry undocumented immigrants who recently crossed the border near Tucson, Arizona.
After discovering that Motel 6 locations across Washington state were aiding ICE by giving the agency access to names of individuals staying at their motels in order to scrape for Hispanic sounding names, the Attorney General filed a lawsuit, seeking an injunction to stop the practice. It must be noted the Attorney General of Washington can sue Motel 6 for selling out their customers to ICE, but the AG cannot sue the agency itself, which is disturbing to say the least. Both the chain and the Institution need to be held to far higher standards if we are to keep individuals safe from the dangers they are surely fleeing in the first place.
In Trump’s recent State of the Union speech, he inexplicably equated DACA recipients with MS-13 gang members and again promised to follow through with his extravagant border wall. He laid out plans for a proposed 12-year path to citizenship for those undocumented residents deemed to have ‘good moral character’ in addition to gleaming work and education evaluations. This is in line with Trump’s Norway thinking: white immigrants need only to ‘work hard’ to gain access to this country, black and brown immigrants need to prove that they should become a legitimate part of the US through strict and arbitrary tests. All of this is being done as border crossings have plummeted compared to the same time last year.
Trump’s public and leaked comments inform his policy pushes to persecute and harrass immigrant communities across the country. Whether Trump is truly racist or simply pandering to racists is not an important question, if it ever was one. ICE and CBP officials are using the direction of the executive office to terrorize undocumented members of our communities. We are only at the beginning of this administration’s second year. As the different cogs of the deportation machine bear down on their new victims to grind, it is up to the rest of us to be vigilant and vocal. We cannot be quiet, we cannot be meek. When history blatantly repeats itself in front of us, we must be ready to heed the warning signs, express solidarity, and fight back.