Posts Tagged ‘ICE’

NPR-Latino USA Commentary: On the Need to Destroy Juan Crow

May 24, 2008

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Latino USA Globe

Thanks to Maria Hinojosa, Mincho Jacob and the folks at NPR’s Latino USA for letting me record this call to action disguised as a commentary:

NPR Latino USA Commentary

Al Ataque: Todos Contra ICE! (Attack: All Against ICE!)

May 19, 2008

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This just in from the Daily News (DN), one of the largest dailies in the U.S. DN Columinst Albor Ruiz’s article reminds us to put our attention where it belongs: on the biggest scandal in ICE’s history. As as he says,

“Shockingly, between January 2004 and November 2007, more detainees have perished while in custody of ICE than in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo combined.”

Just this should be enough to put the forces of the immigrant rights movement on moral and political alert lest they let this largest, most high visibility crisis ICE has faced since its inception pass without a response. But there is more, much more at stake: nothing less than the moral fabric of the entire country. Coming on the same continuum of detention and militarism as Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, the immigration detention scandal brings the U.S. government’s disrespect for human life within the borders of the country itself. In the words of Ruiz,

“What goes on inside immigration detention centers points to a moral crisis that threatens to shred the nation’s basic values.”

Viewed from this vantage point, It’s pretty clear that last week’s “biggest”, “largest” (according to ICE press releases) raid in Iowa was a diversionary tactic designed to take attention-and pressure- away from the political vulnerability ICE’s violence and neglect in detention centers have opened up, a vulnerability that must exploited if their impunity and corruption are to end. Raids before, during and after marches illustrate how very political ICE is-and acts.

The number of ICE scandal actions -vigils, videos, social networking sites, posts, op-eds, public educational events a, letters, protests and other direct action -will define how truly political-and effective- we are. Responses – and non-responses-to this crisis will tell us, the immigrant community and our powerful adversaries whether we really want to pull out of the defensive, reactive (as in only reacting to raids and other ICE initiatives) politic that we seem all-to-comfortable with.

The great danger right now is that we allow the Democrats and their allies to frame the ICE crisis in a reformist manner, as something simply requiring better management and health care. We must, to the best of our abilities make clear that the crisis is not solely nor primarily about the health conditions that need to be reformed; its about the policies and the institutionalized verbal, visual and physical violence against human beings who happen to be migrants, policies that need to be destroyed. The Democrats have done nothing to stem the tide of institutional intolerance and hate. Nothing. So, they should follow, not lead. Some other local national detention rights groups are planning press events, actions etc in coming weeks.

This crisis at ICE has given us what no violent raid or series of violent raids can give us;the crisis has given us the kind media coverage that started the ball rolling on detention scandals in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo: in-depth, front page reporting in the NYT, Washington Post and 60 minutes. The media did its part in this case. Democrats and other politicos will align along whatever vectors of political -and moral-pressure they are placed in. And ICE and its subcontractors have done their part with their corruption, unconstitutional practices and relentless violence.

So, ICE’s fate really is up to those of us in the fight for migrant rights now. Let us seize the moment.

Al Ataque: Todos Contra ICE! (Attack: All Against ICE!)

How to “Humanize” Immigration Raids Without Humanzing Immigrants

November 26, 2007

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This story in the L.A. Times reports on recently-announced Immigration and Citizenship Enforcement (ICE) guidelines designed to “humanize immigration raids”.

While the announcement may mean some needed respite for that minority of immigrants arrested in work-site raids who are “pregnant, nursing infants or serving as sole caregivers to children or seriously ill relatives”, it does nothing for those millions that aren’t in any of these situations.

And what about the trauma immigrants experience due to beatings, gun-wielding and very violent raids, rapes in detention and even shootings perpetrated by ICE agents? Guidelines to “humanize” these ICE actions will, in all likelihood, not be forthcoming. This is, in large part, because, in order to execute such violent actions, ICE agents must learn to fundamentally dehumanize their fellow humans who happen to be migrants. Since 9-11, ICE agent boot camp has morphed into: distinguishing the “good guys” from the “bad guys,” the non-people requiring the state (and sometimes general populace)-sanctioned solution of violence. Just look at ICE’s website, a virtual immigrant rogues gallery for the 21rst century wild west. No human immigrants here.

It’s harder to beat, rape or otherwise traumatize and hurt someone if you see them as a member of your race, the human race. That’s why men (and women) with guns during the genocide era in Rwanda needed radio shock jocks there to fill the airwaves with descriptions of their perceived adversaries as “cockroaches”. Dehumanization is also why, in the U.S., mainstreamed hate radio jocks like the “Jersey Guys” provide airwave support the violent actions of ICE -the most militarized branch of government besides the Pentagon-with calls to denounce and capture immigrants in “Operation Rat a Rat/La Cucha Gotcha”.

Whether public or private, media can and does often enable violence – and legitimate the violent.

Just note, for example, what is being “humanized” in the title of the LA Times piece: “Guidelines to humanize immigration raids”. “Immigration raids”-not immigrants- are being humanized. And as you continue reading, you might note who Teresa Watanabe, the author, ascribes humanity and agency to with quotes like these,

“…. the agency’s Assistant Secretary Julie L. Myers this month issued a memo directing agents to consider releasing nursing mothers on their own recognizance and using alternatives to detention, such as electronic monitoring, as long as they pose no threat to national security or public safety. The memo said the agency’s commitment to ending the “catch and release” practice, in which illegal immigrants are released soon after apprehension, did not diminish its responsibility to recognize “meritorious” humanitarian cases, Kice said.

“ICE is committed to enforcing the law, but we’re also committed to addressing humanitarian concerns,” Kice said.

Note also how Watanabe (or maybe her editor) neglects to ask why ICE and its director Julie Myers’ holiday announcement of “humanitarian” good cheer comes at this precise moment? The article does mention how some ICE actions like the New Bedsford, Mass raid have drawn considerable fire. But might the ICE announcement also have something to do with how Myers’ humanity recently made headlines after she gave a Halloween costume award to and took a picture standing next to a white man whose costume consisted of dreadlocks, a prisoner’s outfit and black face?

Given the continued and devastating violence of ICE, given the degraded state of immigrant humanity in the public sphere, the announcement of the guidelines to “humanize” the raids is nothing more than political minstrelsy designed to put a friendlier face on an agency that’s made a multi-billion industry out of dehumanizing immigrants.

If they really wanted to a “humanize” something, they’d not just stop the raids, but shut down this increasingly violent and constitutionally racist agency down altogether.

The announcement should also be seen as a small and, perhaps even, Pyrrhic victory for immigrants rights activists. To their credit, activists have more frequently and aggressively attacked ICE for its inhumanity and violence. Such activism is urgently needed to make up for the strategic catastrophe led by DC-based groups who told many of us in media teleconferences that “moral arguments (around immigration) don’t work with the voters.”

At this point in the immigration game, concern of and about politicos and voters who can lose their humanity in the urgency and anonymity of polls and voting booths can wait. Things have degenerated to dangerous levels. Before anything, we need to get back to a fundamental concern a for humans.