Unfortunately, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has started another round of deporting thousands of people who have undergone great risks to be Americans, especially Central Americans fleeing horrible violence at home.
In a climate of intense scrutiny and activism relating to the global refugee and immigration crisis, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has established a hotline to field tips on illegal immigrants. The immigration news that Homeland Security’s hotline is open means increased raids on immigrant families are expected under Obama’s immigration reform, and deportation of those families – largely from Central America – resulting from those raids.
Obama’s immigration reform focuses on identifying and deporting men, women and children who have entered the United States illegally since 2014.
The immigration hotline is open 24 hours a day and carries the threat of ‘rapid response’ teams to apprehend any illegal immigrants identified from news and tips given by callers, according to Philly News.
“As the Obama administration gears up for a priority crackdown on immigrants — mainly women and children from Central America — who have entered the U.S. illegally since 2014, the New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia has set up a 24-hour hotline for tips about immigration enforcement raids, and ‘rapid response’ teams to rally around those who are arrested,” reports Philly News.
Humanitarian and various religious and spiritual groups have rallied to protest against the immigration news hotline and the increased deportation raids likely to be enacted by the Department of Homeland Security as a result.
The establishment of the 24-hour hotline for tips on illegal immigrants is just the latest in a longer-term battle on immigration for the U.S. federal government. Obama’s administration faced a crisis in 2014 when tens of thousands of migrants – some men, but mostly women and children – arrived at North America’s southernmost border and crossed illegally.
The hotline is particularly disturbing, incentivizing neighbors to turn each other in or for whites to just make phone calls reporting any Latino they see. And the Obama administration really is sending some of these people to their deaths:
Renewed immigration raids against women and children fail to recognize the severity of situations faced by migrants, who have left Central America to escape death, the U.S. Catholic bishops said.
“Sending women and children back to Central America will not serve as an effective deterrent to migration because this is a humanitarian crisis and individuals from the region are being forced to flee for their lives,” Bishop Eusebio Elizondo said May 25.
Bishop Elizondo is an auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration.
“These operations spark panic among our parishes,” the bishop continued. “No person, migrant or otherwise, should have to fear leaving their home to attend church or school. No person should have to fear being torn away from their family and returned to danger.”
I recognize that Obama does not have intricate control over the daily operations of the ICE and that federal bureaucracies have their own momentum that often lead presidents as much as presidents lead them. That said, Obama has not done a good job of controlling the ICE’s worst behavior, nor has he made it much of a political priority, even as he has taken executive actions in other areas to push for a more humane immigration system. So ICE agents treat some of these deportees horribly.
A group of south Asian migrants have said they were forcefully placed in “body bags” and shocked with Tasers by Immigration and Customers Enforcement (ICE) officers as they were being deported from the US, allegations that have raised red flags for advocates and immigration attorneys.
On 3 April, 85 Bangladeshis, Nepalis and Indians were repatriated on an ICE charter flight that departed from Mesa, Arizona, after they failed to gain asylum or otherwise secure legal status.
Seven detainees who had been on the flight, have detailed their claims of abuse by ICE to the Guardian. According to those interviewed, about 15 deportees were placed in what they called body bags, believed to refer to the “restraint” or “security” blankets occasionally used by the agency. Some individuals were also said to have been shocked with a Taser, an allegation which ICE denies.
According to detainees who witnessed the bags being used, to place a detainee in a so-called body bag, a group of ICE officers would first pin them to the ground, sometimes face-down. The detainee’s body would then be tightly wrapped in the security blanket and fastened with a series of Velcro belts. Limbs restrained, the deportee could then be carried on to the plane.
ICE claims the deportees were resisting. And who could blame them. But these are violations of human rights on the same continuum as what led to extrajudicial rendition and the torture of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. This behavior must be reined in, much as the behavior of police and security forces generally must be radically reformed, as demonstrated repeatedly in recent years.