Should ICE be abolished?
- Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the passage of the 2002 Homeland Security Act, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) created the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in 2003.
- Though ICE and the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are both overseen by the DHS, CBP enforces customs inspections at the border and runs the US Border Patrol, while ICE enforces US immigration law inside the country’s interior.
- A 2018 Pew Research poll shows a stark divide between political parties over ICE; 72% of Republicans favor the organization while an identical amount of Democrats do not.
- The US population in 1975 contained around 5% foreign-born immigrants, the lowest dip since 1860. The number has increased to nearly 15%, or 45 million, in 2020. The entire US population stands at around 330 million.
- Total deportations under the Clinton administration (1993-2000) was 12,290,905; under the Bush administration (2001-2008) was 10,328,850; under the Obama administration (2009-2016) was 5,281,115; the Trump administration (2016-2020) deported under a million.
As part of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement is an immoral institution overdue for abolishment. People have died as a result of inhumane treatment at ICE detention centers. According to the American Immigration Lawyers Association, “A... report found that violations of medical standards played a prominent role in eight deaths in immigration detention facilities from 2010 to 2012.” The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these harms. CNN reports that 21 people died in ICE custody last year, partially from COVID, but with poor health conditions as the main driver.
ICE has separated kids from their parents, losing track of hundreds within the system. The Trump administration is notoriously known for enacting this policy, which American Oversight describes as “A pattern of miscommunication and disorganization within the [DHS].” Their review discovered that after promising to end family separation in 2018, instances continued until at least 2019. In 2020, the Texas Tribune reported that 545 separated children had not been reunited with their families—and that the ACLU made many of these reunion efforts, not the government.
ICE engages in unethical practices to find undocumented people. For example, in Pennsylvania, factory workers alleged that ICE officers sought out and questioned Latino employees. Plus, ICE’s tactics have led to hundreds, possibly thousands, of American citizens being detained.
According to the ACLU, racial profiling is just a single example from a list of unacceptable practices, including violations of due process, equal protection and freedom against racial discrimination, and the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure. ICE has proven to be a dangerous and unlawful arm of the US government.
Simply put, ICE is a law agency that guards the US against border crime and illegal immigration that threatens the safety of citizens. According to ICE’s yearly report, in 2019 alone, 90% of illegal immigrants arrested had criminal convictions that included homicide, kidnappings, and sex crimes.
Immigration isn’t all they handle; ICE has been vital in fighting human trafficking. Half of their operation specializes in the prevention of modern-day human slavery along with narcotics and arms deals. ICE is on the frontlines tackling the rise in smuggled fentanyl across the border in recent years. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, ICE was essential in closing the borders to slow the outbreak.
ICE also curbs the number of illegal immigrants that cling onto and subsequently weigh down the American welfare system, which is reserved for lawful taxpayers. In a 2014 report, almost two-thirds of non-citizen households took advantage of at least one welfare program—because of this, illegal immigration in 2017 cost taxpayers $116 billion, a devastating blow to capitalism.
The US is a club that everybody wants to join, and Americans have the right to be its bouncer. According to a 2018 poll, 79% of Americans agreed the country needs secure borders. Without ICE, the only other option would be open borders which defeat the purpose of immigration laws. Republicans and Democrats both agree that would be a mistake. If ICE is removed, it would be replaced with something similar, defeating the purpose. ICE isn’t even responsible for the separation and retention of families, which is actually border patrol. And if that upsets you, blame legislation older than the Obama administration, not ICE.
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