News and information from our partners

Crosstalk: Breaking ICE is hot button issue

What else is a government agency charged with deporting people who violate our immigration laws supposed to be known as but a “deportation force?” Yet that reference is being used as a denouncement of ICE by liberals who want it abolished.

“No ban. No wall. No borders at all,” is the rallying cry of Democratic Socialists of America.

DSA professional protesters are targeting Trump administration offices, threatening immigration agents and blocking detention facilities and processing centers across the country.

Ironically, in at least one detention center, bond hearings had to be cancelled due to the disruption, so the detainees were forced to be locked up for a longer period of time.

There is no country on earth that has completely open borders — even Europe has a set of rules for external border security and visa requirements for foreign visitors — yet that is now the demand of liberals. They seem to want us all to sing Kumbaya while celebrating diversity instead of making sure that Americans do not become targets of terrorists and criminals.

The roots of Immigration and Customs Enforcement go back 15 years, to the restructuring of an agency that failed to stop the 9/11 tragedy.

ICE now operates under the Department of Homeland Security, and its primary mission is to find and deport nearly one million illegal aliens who have committed additional criminal offenses.

As an example: ICE served an arrest warrant in June on a Brazilian man facing sex charges in Massachusetts who had entered the country illegally once before. Also deported was a Liberian national who served as a bodyguard for war criminal Charles Taylor, an Ecuadorian man wanted for rape and an El Salvadoran national affiliated with the gang MS-13.

Who do Democrats want to carry out enforcement of our laws if not ICE? I doubt they want Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department in control of illegals, which is how the system worked prior to 9/11.

There has to be a plan in place before you abolish an agency — doesn’t there?

This informational flyer distributed at protests by hysterical extremists calling ICE a “terrorist organization” lists their agenda:

• A moratorium on deportations.

• End all forms of immigration detention.

• Reimagine Border Patrol as a humanitarian force that rescues migrants, “rather than destroying their water supplies to hasten their deaths.”

ICE is now dealing with an estimated 300,000 deportation absconders who were ordered by judges to leave the country. And 40 percent of illegal aliens from the pool of between 11 million and 30 million who have overstayed their visas and are traveling freely around the U.S.

Surely, even liberals agree that illegals wanted for murder, narcotics, sex offenses, human trafficking, drug crimes and membership in terrorist organizations (remember 9/11?) should be booted from a nation that operates under the Rule of Law? Arguing for getting rid of ICE is arguing for unrestricted immigration but in a disingenuous way. The discussions about whether the U.S. should have open borders needs to be thoroughly vetted by Congress.

I think we can all agree that there have been abuses of power by ICE and that reform is needed. The U.S. needs to be humane about its treatment of all people, whether citizens or not.

Farmers in America are asking for an amnesty or a guest worker program for illegal laborers. Their needs should be heard and addressed by Congress since they grow our food.

However, the safety of Americans also needs to be factored into the equation. A Harvard-Harris poll from late June involving 1,448 registered voters showed that 64 percent thought people crossing the border illegally should be sent home. Our national security interests come first.

— RaeLynn Ricarte

President Trump’s “zero tolerance” border policy, which resulted in the separation of children from their families so that all adults crossing “illegally” could be incarcerated, was misguided and inhumane — and quickly withdrawn in the face of bipartisan outcry. Americans should be proud that the change was made so quickly, with the support of so many on both sides of the political divide.

Yet the old battle over who is allowed to cross the border or live in this nation rages anew, and the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) is the latest lightning rod, with some on the left working in social media and congress to “#AbolishIce.”

While the “abolish ICE” campaign is a bit of a political red herring, and a poor way to address our immigration issue, it seems pretty clear that the agency is failing in its primary mission: According to the U.S. Department of Justice, writing in a Bureau of Statistics bulletin in 2004, “The primary mission of ICE is to prevent acts of terrorism by targeting the people, money, and materials that support terrorist and criminal activities. ICE is the largest investigative arm of DHS, and is responsible for identifying and eliminating vulnerabilities in the nation’s border, economic, transportation and infrastructure security.”

ICE is not “targeting the people, money and materials that support terrorist and criminal activities” by arresting everyone who attempts to enter the country.

ICE was created in March 2003, when the Homeland Security Act set into motion what would be the single-largest government reorganization since the creation of the Department of Defense, according to their official website.

“One of the agencies in the new Department of Homeland Security was the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, now known as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE.

ICE was granted a unique combination of civil and criminal authorities to better protect national security and public safety. Leveraging those authorities, ICE has become a powerful and sophisticated federal law enforcement agency,” the agency explains.

ICE is just one of the agencies working with immigration: There is also the U.S. Citizenship Immigration Services (USCIS); the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (US CBP); and the U.S. Department of State (DOS); all dealing with immigration on some level.Before the creation of ICE, immigration violations were handled by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which was part of the Department of Justice and worked closely with the Department of Labor.

A separate force, called Border Patrol, monitored the borders.

After its creation under President George W. Bush, ICE began to focus on deporting those living in America without documentation. That focus continued under President Obama.

ICE has become, in effect, a super-charged deportation authority being used not to keep America safe, but to discourage immigration across our border with Mexico. In short, it is a federal tool of great power subject to little oversight and misuse.

Even members of the agency see problems within: A majority of ICE’s top criminal investigation agents are asking Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to spin their division (Homeland Security Investigations) off from the agency, according to a June 27 report by the Texas Observer. In a letter, 19 HSI special agents said that ICEs controversial detention and deportation policies have made it hard for them to conduct investigations into threats to national security, organized crime, narcotics smuggling and human trafficking, the Observer reported.

But abolishing the agency, rather than reworking an immigration system that has been dysfunctional for generations, is no answer. Only together can a policy acceptable to both sides be found.

— Mark Gibson


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment


Information from The Chronicle and our advertisers (Want to add your business to this to this feed?)