Wanted to recommend Will Bunch’s recent piece on how ICE is the real deep state, resisting treating immigrants like humans no matter if Democrats are in power.
So far, Biden is finding that abruptly reversing U.S. immigration policy is like turning around a battleship using the tiny, loose steering wheel of the USS Minnow. His highest-profile immigration move — an executive order pausing deportations for 100 days — has been blocked by a federal judge in Texas whom Trump had appointed just last year. In this vacuum of uncertainty, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE — still under an interim boss hastily installed in the last week of the Trump administration — and the Border Patrol, whose rank-and-file officers zealously supported POTUS 45, have seemingly sped up deportations and other enforcement actions.
The recent dumping of Haitian asylum-seekers in Mexico comes amid what officials and immigration observers had been reporting as a huge spike in deportations to the Caribbean island — which has been plagued by political violence and retribution amid a Trump-style constitutional crisis surrounding its current president — in the days since Biden took office. As many as two flights a day filled with rejected asylum seekers — many booted under an executive order aimed to slow the spread of COVID-19 — had been arriving in Haiti, compared to just two every month a year ago.
In El Paso, ICE moved hastily in late January to deport a Mexican native — identified only by her first name of Rosa — who had been a witness to 2019′s horrific Walmart shooting by a Trump aficionado who targeted Latinos and killed 22 people. The woman had been expected to testify at his trial. Advocates including a Texas congresswoman are now fighting for the return of Rosa — who’d been pulled over for a broken tail light — as she told the Texas Tribune from her unfamiliar new home in Mexico that “sometimes you feel hopeless and right now, I am in that kind of state.”
Other deportation moves have continued or seemingly sped up since Biden’s inauguration and the judge’s order blocking the new president’s moratorium, including flights to Guatemala, Honduras and Jamaica. A controversial flight that would have deported Africans back to strife-riven Cameroon — including some who’d complained about abuse by ICE agents during their Trump-era U.S. detention — was halted only with last-minute intervention from top Biden officials.
This is going to be one of the long hauls of the next four years (and let’s hope more than four years). These agents and Trump’s fascist-friendly judges are going to be huge roadblocks to change. I do believe that there is a path toward some reasonable immigration legislation because of the number of pro-business Republicans that still exist in the Senate. That might be optimistic though.
Even without that, one thing the government must absolutely do is start doing much more thorough investigations of those hired by ICE to root out those with white supremacist backgrounds. The FBI already does background checks on all sorts of federal positions. Almost any faculty member who has been around for a few years has been approached by these agents who are asking questions about some student of the past or another. And you tell them, no I am not aware that my ex-student gambled a lot or did drugs or whatever, as if I would know either way. That needs to be seriously expanded into the security agencies because these are very real threats not only to the poor and desperate people coming to the United States but to the very nature of American democracy itself. They are the fire fighters of the Trumpist Fahrenheit 451 and that’s not going away.