A few days after a white supremacist traveled hundreds of miles to El Paso to murder immigrants in what was one of the most deadly terrorist attacks on Latinx people, ICE– the American terrorist organization swept a Mississippi food processing plant and arrested nearly 700 Hispanic workers. ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) followed a racist and violent attack on an innocent community with even more trauma as they detained 680 people they suspected of being undocumented in the biggest single-day, one-state sweep in U.S. history. I refer to ICE as a terrorist organization because that is exactly what they are: unlawfully using violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.
The federal law enforcement agency was formed along with the Department of Homeland Security in 2003 as a response to the 9/11 events. ICE agents are given an astonishing amount of power, similar to that of police officers, as they often implicate the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, the constitutional guarantee of due process, and the constitutional guarantee of equal protection and freedom from discrimination based on race, ethnicity, and national origin. Agents have been filmed breaking car windows in order to drag people out of their cars and illegally detain them. They routinely show undocumented immigrants administrative warrants rather than judicial warrants, the former being a document signed by an ICE agent instead of a judge that does not pass constitutional muster. For those who don’t know their rights when stopped by or encountering ICE, the threat of an administrative warrant is terrifying enough to turn themselves in. ICE agents in plain clothes have also been seen following people they suspect of non-documentation status, harassing them and threatening them with arrest and deportation. For these agents as well as those in Customs and Border Patrol, the cruelty is the point. They don’t care about immigrants, they simply want to enact racist and violent policies and remove all Brown migrants from America.
After ICE arrested the nearly 700 immigrant workers, the detained parents’ children had no one to pick them up from school or tell them where their families went. Hundreds of babies in their brand new school clothes had to seek safety in the care of neighbors and strangers who witnessed or heard about the raids. For the children whose parents are imprisoned and will eventually be deported, they’ll most likely never see their moms and/or dads again. They’ll grow up without parents, traumatized by the fact that their whole worlds were stripped away from their small hands. The mental torture of losing their parents will eventually compound into even more PTSD and those kids will never ever be the same. But ICE doesn’t care about them– no, they’re just “doing their jobs.” What ICE and CBP agents are doing today to dehumanize and brutalize immigrant families is the exact same actions enacted toward the Jewish people in the 1940s. And until we start stepping up and fighting with our immigrant brothers and sisters and siblings, the next levels of genocide will continue.