U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Put Into Perspective

When you go to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) official website, there are three enticing drop-downs: “Who We Are”, “What We Do”, and “Contact ICE”. Under the “Who We Are” section of the website is a brief history of its upbringings. ICE was developed only a mere 15 years ago in 2003, two years after 9/11. It was first recognized as a subdivision of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which was divided into two other separate agencies: Bureau of Customs and Border Protection and Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. The ICE website also states that there are “more than 20,000 law enforcement and support personnel in more than 400 offices in the United States and around the world,” and that its annual budget is approximately $6 billion, allocated to ICE’s three subdivisions: Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), and Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA). 

Under the “What We Do” tab, are sections for “Immigration Enforcement”, “Investigating Illegal Movement of People and Goods”, and “Preventing Terrorism.” One tactic used by U.S. citizens who are suspicious of an individual being an illegal immigrant is to directly call into his or her state's ICE Field Office, which they can find listed underneath the “Contact ICE” down-bar.

                                                                     Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Executive Order 13768, signed by President Trump on January 25, 2017, expands criteria for individuals eligible for deportation—those who:  (1) have been convicted of any criminal offense; (2) have been charged with any criminal offense that has not been resolved; (3) have committed acts which constitute a chargeable criminal offense; (4) have engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter before a governmental agency; (5) have abused any program related to receipt of public benefits; (6) are subject to a final order of removal but have not complied with their legal obligation to depart the United States; or (7) in the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security. The expanded criteria therefore give ICE more opportunity to deport non-citizens. The website further proclaims the Executive Order’s positive impact on the country, having increased “arresting and removing aliens” by 36% compared to 2017’s arrest and removal statistics.

According to The New York Times, the peak number of undocumented immigrants was 12.2 million in the year 2007. That number has decreased, with an estimated 10.7 million immigrants in 2016, which represents only 3.3 percent of the U.S.’s entire population. ICE arrests differ from case to case, with many individuals having outstanding departure orders from judges that may be many years old. Without warning, ICE can decide that the legal process is over for an individual and that the deportation can commence right away. ICE officers also aren’t required to allow an individual time to say goodbye to loved ones or gather his or her belongings. Though ICE also has vowed not to make arrests at “sensitive locations,” such as schools, places of worship, hospitals, and public demonstrations, arrests have taken place in close proximity to these areas.   

                                                                     Image courtesy of Pixabay. 

Finally, according to Pew Research Center, approximately 7.8 million undocumented immigrants are part of the country’s workforce, and about 66% of undocumented immigrants have lived in the U.S. for ten years or more.

With these statistics, it seems appropriate and reasonable to ask: Is ICE a humane form of confronting illegal immigrants in the U.S.? The opposition to illegal immigration in this country has increased since the election of President Trump in 2016, yet the “threat” of illegal immigrants doesn’t seem to be very significant. Understandably, ICE was formed a couple years after 9/11, but that horrific event shouldn’t be used as a way to justify racism, nationalism, and violence toward people who do not have U.S. citizenship. It is also important to consider that a great majority of undocumented immigrants are part of the country’s workforce, contributing to society and arguably completing the tasks no one else wants to do, such as farming and other forms of hard labor. A more humane consideration is the fact that many of these immigrants have children and families to take care of, as well as the fact that many women immigrants are fleeing their abusers and looking for a safe haven. Yet, these children are being separated from their parents and put into cages, facing trauma and physical and emotional neglect. America was developed (and arguably stolen from the Natives) by European immigrants. Immigrants shouldn’t be dehumanized and objectified as they are today, not just for the fact that they can contribute to our country’s society, but also on the basis that they are people who need help.

                                                                     Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Editor's Note: This article is the perspective and opinion of the author and does not reflect the views of Her Campus at Cal Lutheran of Her Campus Media. Thank you.