Thursday, April 05, 2018

Time To Ice ICE!


On Wednesday evening we talked about Randy Bryce’s powerful platform on immigration issues. One was a very controversial call to abolish ICE… something the DCCC advises its candidates to stay away from. “Immigration and Customs Enforcement was created just 15 years ago,” wrote the Bryce campaign, “and it is now time to rethink whether it is achieving its intended purpose. Rather than deporting immigrants who pose a risk to the nation’s security, ICE has grown power hungry, sucking up more and more federal resources and directing them towards the deportation of children and families, who are otherwise completely law-abiding. In 2017, the detention of immigrants with no criminal records more than doubled. Accordingly, Randy believes that ICE should be abolished, and Congress should explore which existing agency could best house immigration and customs enforcement, so that only those who pose a true threat to our country’s security face deportation.” This kind of bold, progressive leadership drives the DCCC institutionally insane. The DCCC doesn’t want independent-minded leaders like Bryce in Congress upsetting their tepid applecart.

Today, Alexandria Ocasio, the primary opponent of Joe Crowley, corrupt Queens County machine boss and one of the House Democrats leaders, went after ICE the same way Bryce did. She started by reprinting this letter from a donor who had grown disenchanted with the Democratic Party after then-DNC chair, Wasserman Schultz, was caught rigging the 2016 Democratic parimaries against Bernie:

“Let’s talk about this issue a little more,” continued Ocasio. “ICE was only established in 2003, in the same suite of legislation as the Patriot Act, the AUMF (authorizing war without Congressional approval), and the Iraq War. ICE was established as an enforcement agency ¨outside of the purview of the Justice Department”-- removing due process from our immigration proceedings. As such, ICE essentially operates without rigorous accountability

. “Across the country, ICE has established for-profit detention centers and their forces are invading our courtrooms, our buses, our local businesses, our homes, and our schools. They have thrown people into indefinite detention without due process.

“In a troubling development last week, the Trump administration ended a policy that exempted pregnant immigrant women from being detained in unregulated ICE facilities. That means ICE, which operates without oversight from the Justice Department, can now keep pregnant women in dangerous, unregulated, for-profit facilities.

“Our community, New York 14, is half immigrant. I take ICE issues very seriously because they seriously impact families in NY-14. ICE doesn’t belong in Corona. ICE doesn’t belong in Parkchester. ICE doesn’t belong in Jackson Heights. ICE doesn’t belong in New York. ICE doesn’t belong in any town or city in America, breaking up families without due process, accountability, or oversight. We must abolish ICE. And with your help, our campaign can win the Democratic primary in NY-14 and be the voice we need in Congress to end ICE’s impunity.”

Many Democrats who are starting to talk up about abolishing ICE were inspired by Sean McElwee’s column in The Nation last month, It’s Time to Abolish ICE. He point: “A mass-deportation strike force is incompatible with democracy and human rights.” He features three of Blue America’s strongest endorsees: Ocasio, Dan Canon (IN) and Kaniela Ing (HI).
Dan Canon is running for Congress in Indiana’s ninth district this year. A career civil-rights lawyer, Canon filed one of the cases against gay-marriage bans that eventually became the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges, and he proudly wore a Notorious RBG shirt under his suit to the Supreme Court. He is currently representing individuals suing Donald Trump for inciting violence at his rallies.

Canon has also defended clients swept up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids, and fought a Kafkaesque deportation system that, at one point, wouldn’t even disclose the location of his client. Now Canon believes ICE should be abolished entirely.

“I don’t think a lot of people have any kind of direct experience with ICE, so they don’t really know what they do or what they’re about. If they did, they’d be appalled,” Canon told me. “ICE as it presently exists is an agency devoted almost solely to cruelly and wantonly breaking up families. The agency talks about, and treats, human beings like they’re animals. They scoop up people in their apartments or their workplaces and take them miles away from their spouses and children.”

The idea of defunding ICE has gained traction among immigrant-rights groups horrified by the speed at which, under President Donald Trump, the agency has ramped up an already brutal deportation process. Mary Small, policy director at Detention Watch Network, said, “Responsible policymakers need to be honest about the fact that the core of the agency is broken.” Her group led the charge to defund ICE with its #DefundHate campaign last year.

Groups like Indivisible Project and the Center for Popular Democracy have also called for defunding ICE. Brand New Congress, a progressive PAC, has the proposal in its immigration platform.

“ICE is terrorizing American communities right now,” said Angel Padilla, policy director of the Indivisible Project. “They’re going into schools, entering hospitals, conducting massive raids, and separating children from parents every day. We are funding those activities, and we need to use all the leverage we have to stop it.”

Though ICE abolition is spreading on the left, it quickly meets extreme skepticism elsewhere. In part, this is because the mainstream political discourse has a huge blind spot for the agency’s increasingly brutal policies. While elites have generally become concerned with rising authoritarianism, they have mainly ignored the purges ICE is conducting in immigrant communities. For example, in their recent book, How Democracies Die, Daniel Ziblatt and Steven Levitsky do not mention ICE at all. Centrist pundits like Jonathan Chait have dedicated thousands of words to the threat of “PC culture” on college campuses, but haven’t found time to question whether an opaque and racist deportation force might pose a larger threat to democracy than campus editorial pages.

…Obama, while he made pains to distinguish between “good” and “bad” immigrants, presided over aggressive deportation tactics in his first term in order to build support for a path to citizenship that never came.

The central assumption of ICE in 2018 is that any undocumented immigrant is inherently a threat. In that way, ICE’s tactics are philosophically aligned with racist thinkers like Richard Spencer and the writers at the white-supremacist journal VDare. ICE’s modus operandi under Trump bears a striking resemblance to the strategy proposed by white supremacist Jared Taylor in 2015:
The key, however, would be a few well publicized raids on non-criminal illegals. Television images of Mexican families dropped over the border with no more than they could carry would be very powerful. The vast majority of illegals would quickly decide to get their affairs in order and choose their own day of departure rather than wait for ICE to choose it for them. The main thing would be to convince illegals that ICE was serious about kicking them out. Ironically, the more ICE was prepared to do, the less it would have to do.
This is a near-perfect summary of ICE under acting director Thomas Homan, who has repeatedly made clear that all undocumented residents should be afraid of his agents. “You should look over your shoulder, and you need to be worried,” he boasted in his congressional testimony last year.

Homan does not apply any light touch when expressing his authoritarian tendencies. He has threatened to jail and prosecute local officials in so-called “sanctuary cities” that do not fully comply with ICE mandates. The agency has also clearly been targeting political opponents for deportations and has worked to deport individuals for speaking to media about ICE.

Homan’s authoritarian saber rattling has essentially been ignored in the mainstream political dialogue, but the candidates and activists I spoke with hear it loud and clear. So do the communities they represent.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is challenging Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th Congressional District, which covers part of the Bronx and Queens, told me she believes that “After a long and protracted history of sexual assault and uninvestigated deaths in ICE’s detention facilities, as well as the corrosive impact ICE has had on our schools, courts, and communities, it’s time to reset course.

” New York’s 14th district is among the most diverse and immigrant-heavy in the country. Ocasio-Cortez not only supports defunding ICE, but also wants a full congressional inquiry into ICE enforcement and detention practices. She further argues for a “a truth and reconciliation process for victims of any potential sexual assault, neglect, and misconduct discovered as a result.”

Kaniela Ing, a member of the Hawaii State Legislature currently running for the House in the state’s first district, has also endorsed defunding ICE, tweeting this week that “When they say defund Planned Parenthood (and destroy millions of lives), we say defund ICE (and save millions of lives).”

There is increasing support for limiting or even ending cooperation with ICE at the state level, too. Abdul El-Sayed, a gubernatorial candidate in Michigan, told me that he “will not waste a dime of state taxpayer money to enforce laws that would tear apart families-- and tear apart our economy.”

Jessica Ramos, who is running for a New York State Senate seat in Queens, has also endorsed defunding ICE. “Instead of making our communities safer, ICE has taught immigrants to fear and distrust law enforcement,” she said. “It’s absolutely time to defund the agency and start working on real, common-sense immigration reform.”

Ramos’s opponent in the primary, Jose Peralta, joined the Independent Democratic Caucus in the statehouse last year, which is a group of politicians who were elected as Democrats formed a power-sharing agreement with Republicans. He claimed this would position him to bring tuition benefits and protections to undocumented immigrants, but those benefits have not materialized, though he has gotten a nice pay raise thanks to the GOP.

The call to abolish ICE is, above all, a demand for the Democratic Party to begin seriously resisting an unbridled white-supremacist surveillance state that it had a hand in creating. Though the party has moved left on core issues from reproductive rights to single-payer health care, it’s time for progressives to put forward a demand that deportation be taken not as the norm but rather as a disturbing indicator of authoritarianism.

White supremacy can no longer be the center of the immigration debate. Democrats have voted to fully fund ICE with limited fanfare, because in the American immigration discussion, the right-wing position is the center and the left has no voice. There has been disturbing word fatigue around “mass deportation,” and the threat of deportation is so often taken lightly that many have lost the ability to conceptualize what it means. Next to death, being stripped from your home, family, and community is the worst fate that can be inflicted on a human, as many societies practicing banishment have recognized. It’s time to rein in the greatest threat we face: an unaccountable strike force executing a campaign of ethnic cleansing.

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At 2:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was included in the suite of proto-Nazi lege that was broadly bipartisan (if you can consider being supported by all factions of fascist warmongering autocratic money party to be 'bipartisan').

Creating an EXECUTIVE BRANCH monstrosity to HUNT, CAPTURE AND TRY illegals was the united shitholes of America's creation of a proto-gestapo.
Note that it is not part of the DOJ, so our normal enforcement/trial/due process mechanism is circumvented (something John Oliver did a fair job of reporting on recently, btw:).
They employ their own army, their own prisons and their own JUDGES.
Because they don't report to the DOJ, they do not feel obligated to provide lawyers to anyone they sweep up who cannot afford it, often requiring kids as young as 4 to represent themselves!!!

Note: I guess that the executive branch has decided that Gideon V. Wainright does not apply to them (it's been 55 years. who remembers anything from 1963 besides me?). And should someone decide to take ICE to the SC to affirm that Gideon should apply, it would take years, tens of thousands would have been railroaded already and our current Nazi SC would probably NOT AFFIRM Gideon, which would then make ALL who are arrested and destitute SOL in this shithole.

While we were kvetching about the inherent proto-Nazi AUMFs and PATRIOT and so forth, this might be the worst since it sets up, really, a separate "law" enforcement, trial and prison protocol that answers not to the DOJ but to the president. It gives the exec his own police force and lets him decide on the law and punishments arbitrarily.

That law is, on its face, anticonstitutional and it should be repudiated. In fact, all ICE activity is illegal (read Gideon). States should not just refuse to assist ICE, they should start arresting ICE personnel and putting THEM in prison (after providing them with a court appointed attorney, of course).

At 7:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So much of our law has been neutered or ignored (Sherman anti-trust laws, anyone?) that for all intents and purposes, we are no long a nation under the rule of law. Corporations have the power through the purchase of "our" elected officials. They will wield it in defense of their continued exorbitant profits against all comers - including other sovereign nations opposing their criminal activities to take even more to which they are not entitled.

I have no faith that this nation can be reclaimed. It is only a matter of time until various regions declare themselves to exert fiat rule in the areas they can control. Think similar to the stereotypical Chinese warlord period.

At 4:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

7:44, it's going to be worse than that. The best outcome, if you live in the NE or on the west coast, would be for those states to secede and tell trump and his federal goons to go fuck themselves.
They'll need to do that before our proto gestapos (plural since the marshalls under the DOJ are also pretty much trump's personal army) gets bigger and more full of themselves as trump's personal praetorian guard.

Of course, trump would not hesitate to nuke any of those rebel states. But that death would be quicker than the death by austerity that he, the republicans and the democraps have planned.


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