Congress Needs To Hold ICE Accountable for Abuses

When Karah de Oliveira and her husband, Fabiano, showed up at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Office in Lawrence, Massachusetts, they expected to have an interview about their marriage, the first part of an application for a green card. Fabiano has lived in the U.S. since 2005 and the two have a 5-year-old son together.

But Immigration and Customs Enforcement had other ideas.

ICE arrested Fabiano, who became one of many members of our communities who have been arrested while trying to normalize their status, in the latest example of how aggressive ICE has become since President Trump’s inauguration.

Put ICE back on its leash

In the past year, ICE has gone after parents dropping off their children at schoolprimary caregivers to family members with disabilities; domestic abuse survivors seeking legal protections; religious minorities who fear persecution; political activists; community leaders; and people who work everywhere from convenience stores to dairy farms.

While ICE abuses certainly predate the arrival of the Trump administration, there has been a notable increase in the number of arrests of people who don’t have criminal records, those who show up to routine check-in meetings with agents, and even people previously offered humanitarian exceptions. ICE has also ramped up arrests at courthouses, which dissuades victims and witnesses from reporting crimes or testifying in trials, and rescinded an Obama-era directive instructing agents to exercise discretion with military veterans and college students who are undocumented.

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan have even threatened to arrest local officials who do not cooperate with ICE.

But during the State of the Union, Trump painted a very different picture of ICE, framing the agency as a savior of crime-ridden streets. Trump said that “open borders have allowed drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities” and “caused the loss of many innocent lives.”

While Trump uses his bully pulpit to extol ICE and ignore its abuses, grassroots activists and immigrant community leaders been drawing attention to ICE’s role in terrorizing communities.

Just in January alone, demonstrators have rallied against ICE not only in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Newark and Seattle but also in cities and towns like Providence, Rhode Island; Athens, Georgia; Youngstown, Ohio; Bryan, Texas; Metuchen, New Jersey; and Bensalem, Pennsylvania.

In Cary, North Carolina, one church group held a candlelight vigil outside of an ICE office to protest the deportation of one of its members, who reported that ICE has barred him from receiving necessary medication. Local activists in Goshen, Indiana, succeeded in stopping plans to build an ICE detention center in their county.

People Power volunteers mobilized across the country on the Freedom Cities initiative, changing policies on local cooperation with ICE and Customs and Border Protection in cities and counties across the country.

But they can’t stand up to ICE alone.

As the debate around immigration takes center stage in Congress, this is a critical opportunity for elected officials to demand changes in the way ICE operates.

Members of Congress should demand that ICE explain its actions in cases like those of Audemio Orozco-Ramirez of Montana, a 44-year-old father of seven who was raped in ICE custody in 2003 and was last year detained by ICE during a routine check-in visit; Miguel Perez Jr., a U.S. Army veteran with two kids slated for deportation; or 39-year-old Jorge Garcia of Michigan, who was deported after living in the United States since he was 10 years old, leaving behind a wife and two children.

We have already seen members of Congress rally against the arrest of immigrant rights advocate Ravi Ragbir in New York; protest plans to deport Tacoma, Washington, immigration activist Maru Mora-Villalpando; and try to stop the deportation of Amer Othman Adi, a store owner in Ohio who has lived in the country for nearly four decades. On Jan. 29, ICE deported Adi to Jordan, ignoring a request from his Congressman, also approved by the House Judiciary Committee, for a six-month stay. California senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris called out ICE for retaliating against sanctuary cities by targeting them with raids, and in New Jersey, the newly elected governor, Phil Murphy, visited people living in a sanctuary church.

We cannot let Donald Trump go unchallenged or ICE abuses left unaddressed.

Politicians who want to lead on immigration need to speak up and deal with the reality that ICE needs to be held to account for its abuses and lawlessness.

View comments (47)
Read the Terms of Use

Anonymous

We actually have a national holiday that celebrates illegal immigration - Thanksgiving!

Although they weren't Christians, the Americans at that time gave food and shelter to the illegal immigrants from Europe so they wouldn't starve. Maybe we could learn from that generation of Americans!

Anonymous

Excellent post.

Really?

In the words of Jackie Gleason----- Hardy, Har Hardy Har har

Anonymous

That is actually a very good example of why we shouldn't let foreigners barge in and take advantage of us. Those Europeans flooded in, killed the Native Americans, stole their land, and imposed laws that hurt Native Americans for the benefit of foreigners. Kind of like what is happening with foreigners being our budget hostage to strong arm the government into giving in to their demands

Anonymous

Love this comment.

Anonymous

Most of us associate the holiday with happy Pilgrims and Indians sitting down to a big feast. And that did happen - once.

The story began in 1614 when a band of English explorers sailed home to England with a ship full of Patuxet Indians bound for slavery. They left behind smallpox which virtually wiped out those who had escaped. By the time the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts Bay they found only one living Patuxet Indian, a man named Squanto who had survived slavery in England and knew their language. He taught them to grow corn and to fish, and negotiated a peace treaty between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Nation. At the end of their first year, the Pilgrims held a great feast honoring Squanto and the Wampanoags.

But as word spread in England about the paradise to be found in the new world, religious zealots called Puritans began arriving by the boat load. Finding no fences around the land, they considered it to be in the public domain. Joined by other British settlers, they seized land, capturing strong young Natives for slaves and killing the rest. But the Pequot Nation had not agreed to the peace treaty Squanto had negotiated and they fought back. The Pequot War was one of the bloodiest Indian wars ever fought.

In 1637 near present day Groton, Connecticut, over 700 men, women and children of the Pequot Tribe had gathered for their annual Green Corn Festival which is our Thanksgiving celebration. In the predawn hours the sleeping Indians were surrounded by English and Dutch mercenaries who ordered them to come outside. Those who came out were shot or clubbed to death while the terrified women and children who huddled inside the longhouse were burned alive. The next day the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared "A Day Of Thanksgiving" because 700 unarmed men, women and children had been murdered.

Cheered by their "victory", the brave colonists and their Indian allies attacked village after village. Women and children over 14 were sold into slavery while the rest were murdered. Boats loaded with a many as 500 slaves regularly left the ports of New England. Bounties were paid for Indian scalps to encourage as many deaths as possible.

Following an especially successful raid against the Pequot in what is now Stamford, Connecticut, the churches announced a second day of "thanksgiving" to celebrate victory over the heathen savages. During the feasting, the hacked off heads of Natives were kicked through the streets like soccer balls. Even the friendly Wampanoag did not escape the madness. Their chief was beheaded, and his head impaled on a pole in Plymouth, Massachusetts -- where it remained on display for 24 years.

The killings became more and more frenzied, with days of thanksgiving feasts being held after each successful massacre. George Washington finally suggested that only one day of Thanksgiving per year be set aside instead of celebrating each and every massacre. Later Abraham Lincoln decreed Thanksgiving Day to be a legal national holiday during the Civil War -- on the same day he ordered troops to march against the starving Sioux in Minnesota.

This story doesn't have quite the same fuzzy feelings associated with it as the one where the Indians and Pilgrims are all sitting down together at the big feast. But we need to learn our true history so it won't ever be repeated. Next Thanksgiving, when you gather with your loved ones to Thank God for all your blessings, think about those people who only wanted to live their lives and raise their families. They, also took time out to say "thank you" to Creator for all their blessings.

Anonymous

LOL The AMERICAN Civil liberty union... Anyone else see what they did there rofl

Anonymous

Well it was not illegal immigrations and both sides provided food.

Anonymous

Idiot

Anonymous

There was no law against immigration in the 1700's.

Pages

Stay Informed