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How ICE Abuses Undocumented Immigrants

Nation recoils in horror as ICE abuses undocumented immigrants by separating families and concealing abuse.

By Ben KharakhPublished 6 years ago 15 min read
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast 

Donald Trump made bigotry against Latin Americans one of the pillars of his campaign. He's been delivering on that promise with policies of discrimination and abuse ever since he got into office. On what may be a daily basis, migrants are abused, children are being separated from their families, and detained undocumented citizens are being subjected to inhumane treatment. At the center of all this is the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as "ICE."

There's nothing fun about ICE. ICE isn't Arnold Schwarzenegger in Batman and Robin saying, "Ice to see you." ICE isn't even Arnold Schwarzenegger admitting to having fathered a child with his nanny, and then finally saying, "Ice to see you," to a son who sorely needs his father. "Ice to see you too, Dad; ice to see you too!"

No, ICE abuses undocumented immigrants by detaining families at the border and splitting them up. ICE is destroying documents that cataloged years of abuse. And the Trump administration is only planning on empowering ICE further and creating more detention centers.

Woof. Yeah. I know. It's a lot. Like, a lot a lot. But we're us, right? We can do this. We got this. I know that we've dropped the ball consistently in this country and have far too often been on the wrong side of history, but we really gotta turn it around on this one. This is our Mighty Ducks, "Quack quack quack," moment. This is the moment where every coach in a sports movie gives the speech to get his team to win, and we gotta win big right now because the stakes are too high to lose. What's on the line isn't just the dignity of America; it's the dignity of human beings. The powers that be aren't threatening to shut down the rec center; they're threatening to turn the rec center into a detention center for undocumented children. Quack, quack, quack!

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

If government agencies were all entered into a beauty pageant, then ICE would be second to the FBI in the “Biggest Criminal Investigative Agency” and in second place for “Largest Contributor to America’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.” It would come in first place, though, in the category of “Most Big of All the Investigative Arms of the Department of Homeland Security”! What's up with these names?! ICE abuses undocumented immigrants; they’re not used to running beauty pageants! That’s more up President Sex Criminal’s ally. As is walking in on beauty contests while they're changing, which the FBI would 100% not tolerate. "Hi, I'm with the FBI–female body inspectors." "Really, we're the FBI. Federal Bureau of Investigation. YOU'RE GOING TO JAIL DONALD TRUMP!" Oh, if only!

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, was formed when several agencies were merged after the passage of the Homeland Security Act of 2002. In the wake of 9/11, America really wanted to beef up its security against people of color. YEAH, I WENT THERE! The US government really wanted to protect its borders when really the danger was coming from inside the country the whole time! That's because undocumented immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than U.S. citizens.

Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO)

ERO is the division of ICE tasked with removing undocumented citizens. I'm not going to say "illegal aliens" because NO BODY IS ILLEGAL! Also, I know all about framing. When you use the language that your opposition wants you to use, you've already ceded too much of the debate. That's why you should never use the term "job creator" to refer to people who run companies. You didn't create jobs any more than you created hunger; the job exists because it fulfills a need. YOU'RE NOT A GOD JUST BECAUSE YOUR OFFICE HAS A VIEW! My apartment has a view and you don't see me claiming to be the anointed one!

ERO claims it, "enforces the nation's immigration laws in a fair and effective manner," but that's only given a usage of the term "fair" so generous that it renders the word meaningless. ICE abuses undocumented immigrants! Is the Trump administration’s separation of families at the border fair? Is it fair that an indigenous Guatemalan woman was shot dead by US border patrol? Is it fair that a transgender woman in a migrant caravan died in ICE custody? If so, do I get to just start shoplifting? Am I allowed to run through red lights? Can I just pick a day of the year at random and just startdoing a one-man Purge? No. NO PURGES FOR ANYBODY!

Closing the Office of Detention Policy and Planning (ODPP)

In April of 2017, President Sex Criminal closed the ODPP and decided to cease including the office's standards in any new holding facilities for immigrants. How ICE abuses undocumented immigrants might just get a whole lot worse. Remember, Trump told cops they should rough people up more during arrests. The Worst of Us has no concern for others; the Trump plan would curtail protections for detained immigrants.

It used to be the case that those held for immigration violations were seen as a different class as those held for criminal violations. By collapsing the difference between those who commit crimes and those who violate immigration laws, a new criminal category is created that can be used as an ad-hoc rationalization for excessive force, human rights violations, and unwarranted detention. Orange Julius is essentially creating a cancer for the cure. And, no, I'm not talking about "Cancer for the Cure" by Eels, although the song is a perfect soundtrack for America's complete embrace of madness.

Essentially, The Worst of Us is creating a new criminal class that furthers the demand for jails and penitentiaries to house the detained. Deregulation makes it easier to build these prisons because companies don't have to worry about indispensable needs like translation services, medical care, or general concern for the well-being of undocumented immigrants. It's like letting the fox into the hen house, except the fox built the hen house, the law says it's totally cool to eat hens, and, oh, by the way, you're a hen now too. YEAH, WHEN DO YOU THINK IT STOPS?! FIRST THEY CAME FOR THE HENS AND I SAID NOTHING FOR I WAS NOT A HEN!

Private prisons can pat themselves on the back for having donated nearly $500,000 to President Sex Criminal's presidential campaign; those donations are just one of the ways Donald Trump is making himself richer as the president. The greatest irony would be if only a single holding cell would be built and its sole occupant becomes The Worst of Us. Think of it like the Diving Bell and the Orange Guy.


No, 287(g) isn't a robot bounty hunter from the extended Star Wars universe. Nor is it the name of a project that will allow the government to create a clone army to do its bidding. It is, however, the means by which the US government is able to contract local police departments to help ICE agents. So, 287(g) does, unfortunately, have way too much in common with the Star Wars prequels. We can only hope that Trump is our Jar-Jar Binks and that he'll be mostly left out of the next two movies. MAKE LIKE JAKE LLOYD AND DISAPPEAR FROM PUBLIC LIFE FOREVER!

Since April 2017, the Trump administration has been moving quickly to build up nationwide deportation force. MORE AGENTS MEANS ICE ABUSES, UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS, EVEN MORE! It would cost $100 million to hire 500 ICE agents, which is where 287(g) comes in. It's alarming that 20,000 agents isn't enough for whatever Trump has planned. As the Washington Post reported, during the Obama years, "Immigrant-rights groups charged that the program has resulted in civil rights abuses and racial profiling by poorly trained local police and lax supervision by ICE."

If you do a Google News search for 287(g), you'll find plenty of results of local communities pushing back against the program. Citizen Times, which is part of the USA Today Network, reported how ICE Spokesman Bryan Cox told the community of Hendersonville, North Carolina that it was in their collective best interest to support the 287(g) program because ICE agents will sweep up anybody in a raid who's undocumented whereas local police would only pick up particular individuals. “I call BS,” Gale Kemp told Citizen Times, “The idea that you can say this isn’t a violation of the Fourth Amendment is just pitiful.” And that's what Trump wants to bring back!

That's like bringing back measles because you're afraid of vaccines. Oh, I'm sorry, that's not a joke. That's just another stupid thing people do when they're afraid. When I'm afraid I just share my feelings with my friends. MAYBE TRY DOING THAT, PRESIDENT SEX CRIMINAL?! Oh, wait, Trump says, "I don’t like to analyze myself because I might not like what I see.” Euch, I thought Orange Julius believed in the "racehorse theory," which is the dumb person's version of eugenics. As Michael D'Antonio said in the Frontline documentary The Choice, “The family subscribes to a racehorse theory of human development. They believe that there are superior people and that if you put together the genes of a superior woman and a superior man, you get a superior offspring.” IS DONALD TRUMP AFRAID OF LOOKING INWARD BECAUSE HE'D DISCOVER THAT HE'S NOT A HORSE?! If treating Trump like a racehorse is what it'll take to end this madness, then let's just give The Worst of Us what he wants. And by that I mean turn him into glue.

Separating Families

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who looks like the Illinois Nazi from The Blues Brothers, who is enforcing a policy of breaking up immigrant families who cross the border. This prompted one protestor, who was documented by the Washington Post, to yell, “We don’t want you in our state! Are you going to be separating families? Is that why you’re here? Why are you doing this? Do you have a heart? Do you have a soul? Why do you work for this administration?”

All great questions! The answers, respectively, are, "Yes; yes; I am a bigot; no, I do not have a heart; I have a soul but it is black, and I work for this administration because I have no heart, my soul is black, and I'm a bigot. Were you not listening?! THIS INTERVIEW IS OVER; I HAVE TO GO SEPARATE FAMILIES!"

The New York Times answered the question of, "Did the Trump Administration separate immigrant children from parents and lose them?" Turns out, these are two separate situations that merit our outrage. Last year, the government discovered that 1,475 migrant children were unaccounted for after being placed into some form of care between October and the end of 2016.

How many children will go unaccounted for now? Who knows! It's not a good sign when people are reporting that, "US Border Patrol accused of misleading immigrants while separating families: ‘They’re taking kids for baths and never returning'." That is literally what so many people feared from a dude who began his campaign by calling Mexicans, "Drug dealers, criminals, rapists," and then spent 2016 re-tweeting white supremacists.

The news from the detention centers is a nightmare of trauma that would make Pinhead from the Hellraiser series say, "Tone it down!" One undocumented immigrant from Honduras said that federal officials took her daughter while she breastfed the child in a detention center. As reported by NPR, between April 19th and May, nearly 2,000 children were separated from adults at the border. Children were heard crying in a detention center audio recording, which you can listen to yourself. "No more! My name is Pinhead because I have pins in my head and this is too much for me! I literally pay my rent by dismembering people and I quit!" Immigrant kids say they were strapped to chairs, left naked in detention center! "I'm going back to hell where at least there's no news about kids being separated from their families and then abused. PINHEAD OUT!"

Separating children from their families is already a human rights violation. That's it. The line has been crossed. ICE abuses undocumented immigrants. If you've been wondering, "Are we the baddies?" The answer is, "Yes. Seriously? Come on! Of course. Really? You had to ask? YES! DO SOMETHING NOW! BE OUTRAGED AT EVERYTHING!" As Shaun King wrote for The Intercept, "Separating migrant families is barbaric. It's also what the U.S. has been doing to people of color for hundreds of years."

Seriously, start giving your money to important organizations that help immigrants in the US because now is literally the time that your children will be asking you about. And if you say you did nothing, your child will look you in the eyes and ask, "Are we the baddies?"

ICE Is Destroying Records

Great! The thing you do when you've got something to hide is the thing the organization we trust the least is doing right now. Fantastic. And are they dressed like Storm Troopers while they do it?! As the ACLU reported, "ICE has asked for permission to begin routinely destroying 11 kinds of records, including those related to sexual assaults, solitary confinement and even deaths of people in its custody." Why do you think I've been screaming, "ICE ABUSES UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS?!" It's not because caps lock is cruise control for awesome (it is). It's because ICE ABUSES UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS! We already know that US Border Patrol failed to count hundreds of migrant deaths on US soil and that detained immigrant children have been subjected to widespread abuse by officials. ICE ABUSES UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS! I'm getting worn down from all this screaming.

The Rhetoric

President Sex Criminal and his collaborators have said nothing to assuage my fears that ICE abuses undocumented immigrants. “The children will be taken care of; put into foster care or whatever,” is Chief of Staff's John Kelly’s, “You also had some very fine people on both sides.” In an interview with NPR, Kelly said of undocumented immigrants, "They’re overwhelmingly rural people in the countries they come from—fourth, fifth, sixth-grade educations are kind of the norm. They don’t speak English. Obviously, that’s a big thing. They don’t speak English. They don’t integrate well, they don’t have skills.” Nice, the President Trump's Chief of Staff is as openly bigoted as the President. Did I say Nice? What I meant to say was, "AHHHHHHHH!"

Trump has said of undocumented children, "They look so innocent. They’re not innocent," which is not a surprise. What is surprising is that the White House's website now has an official page with the following headline: What You Need To Know About The Violent Animals Of MS-13. We live in a country where the government issues an official statement that sounds like clickbait headlines from a white supremacist Buzzfeed. "How to Eat Healthy and on a Budget so You Can Secure the Existence of Our People and a Future for White Children." Yuck!


As if the fact that ICE abuses undocumented immigrants were not enough, the Trump administration launched an effort to strip citizenship from those suspected of naturalization irregularities. Only 300 cases have been filed with the Justice Department since 1990. But The Worst of US is hoping that number goes up significantly after several dozen lawyers and immigration officers were hired specifically to find irregularities to justify giving someone the boot.

Great, it's clear now that President Sex Criminal and his Gang of Hate are just brainstorming ideas. "How about we just hand out flyers that say, 'Free Big Macs; just show citizenship!'?" "What idiot would fall for that?" Trump enters double fisting Big Macs. "All I had to do was show them proof of citizenship!" No joke: Trump eats McDonald's because he's afraid of being poisoned elsewhere. Did Trump not watch Super Size Me?! Of course not, because it wasn't called Super Trump Me. Well, maybe someone can tell Trump that Morgan Spurlock admitted to acts of sexual misconduct and then The Worst of Us will give Spurlock a position in his administration. They'd have plenty to talk about! "You ever grab a McDonald's employee by the pussy? When you're famous they let you do that!" Euch, I hope the preservatives in McDonald's fries haven't made Trump immortal.

Casual Harrasment

America has always been bigoted. Our original sin is slavery and genocide, and the prison industrial complex is modern day slavery. America's colonialist relationship with Puerto Rico is over 100 years old. We have a long, sordid past to make up for! And now we must reckon with that past on a daily basis in part because ICE abuses undocumented immigrants. People are documenting bigotry like never before. We hear about how two Americans were detained by a Border Patrol agent after he heard them speaking Spanish, and about a racist lawyer threatening Spanish-speaking workers with calls to ICE.

If you ever see someone being harassed in this way, follow this guide to standing up against Islamophobic harassment (and other types of harassment, too). Take note that what the guide recommends is engaging with the harassed and not the harasser. Harassers get enough support from others as it is; it's time we direct our emotional support toward those who get harassed.

Whoops, my sense of humor has been ground down! Wakka-wakka I AM SAD! ICE abuses undocumented immigrants. We cannot just forget!

We cannot forget the names of the Guatemalan woman who was killed by the Border Patrol or about the trans woman who died in US custody. Their names were Claudia Patricia, Gomez Gonzales, and Roxana Hernandez.

I literally cried looking at their photos while writing this article in a White Castle. Of course, it's not the first time those employees have seen people crying at their White Castle. "He must have eaten a sack of ten all by himself." I'M CRYING OVER WHAT AMERICA HAS BECOME; AND WHAT IT'S ALWAYS BEEN! "Hey, have another sack of ten on us." I DON'T NEED MORE REASONS TO CRY!

What You Can Do

Go to protests, stay informed, vote, practice bystander intervention, and donate to important organizations that help immigrants in the US. The New York Immigration Coalition has also put out a Google Doc of more action you can take.

ICE abuses undocumented immigrants and it must be put to a stop. When you see someone's story shared on social media, share it yourself because when stories go viral that helps people get legal representation and other forms of aid. You can also accompany people to ICE check-ins and court hearings in order to provide witnesses, emotional support, and show community ties.

Lastly, treat undocumented citizens as human beings. Each undocumented citizen is not a representative of all undocumented citizens. They're human beings with rich inner lives who want dignity, respect, and a good time. Be empathetic and not degrading; provide your sympathy and not your pity. You know, just don't be like President Sex Criminal. Ever.


About the Creator

Ben Kharakh

Manic pixie dream goth. With appearances in Fortune, Vice, Gothamist, and McSweeney's.@benkharakh

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