Dangerous ICE

This dangerous ICE does not refer to thin ICE on a lake but instead refers to the Immigration Customs Enforcement Agency, the largest investigative branch of the Department of Homeland Security. This ICE is dangerous because it has used fear of 9/11 to construct an enormous bureaucracy, independent of the legislative and judicial branches of government, justified solely for the purpose of fighting the war on terror but instead is used in an escalating undeclared war on illegal immigration. ICE has lately developed an insidious and clever “fast-tracking” scheme which on May 12, 2008, handed down to illegal immigrants 130 man-years of prison time based on bogus charges at Agriprocessors, a meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa.

I had heard about this at the time but hadn’t fully realized the seriousness and inhumanity of the operation until I saw this post on Missy’s blog, If You Don’t Know About This … You Should, and read the 20-page report by Dr. Erik Camayd-Freixas who was a Federally Certified Interpreter at the US District Court for the Northern District of Iowa.

As if breaking up families with children wasn’t enough, men and women were driven to court like cattle in separate groups of ten, “shackled at the wrists, waist and ankles, chains dragging as they shuffled through”, unable to understand the trumped up charges of social security fraud and identity theft leveled against them. All they knew was that they had paid up to $300 each for the right to work at the meat packing plant. Most never knew what a social security number meant or whose identity they were supposed to have stolen. Here are the last two paragraphs of that report:

“When the executive responded to post-9/11 criticism by integrating law enforcement operations and security intelligence, ICE was created as “the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)” with “broad law enforcement powers and authorities for enforcing more than 400 federal statutes” (1). A foreseeable effect of such broadness and integration was the concentration of authority in the executive branch, to the detriment of the constitutional separation of powers. Nowhere is this more evident than in Postville, where the expansive agency’s authority can be seen to impinge upon the judicial and legislative powers. “ICE’s team of attorneys constitutes the largest legal program in DHS, with more than 750 attorneys to support the ICE mission in the administrative and federal courts. ICE attorneys have also participated in temporary assignments to the Department of Justice as Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys spearheading criminal prosecutions of individuals. These assignments bring much needed support to taxed U.S. Attorneys’ offices”(33). English translation: under the guise of interagency cooperation, ICE prosecutors have infiltrated the judicial branch. Now we know who the architects were that spearheaded such a well crafted “fast-tracking” scheme, bogus charge and all, which had us all, down to the very judges, fall in line behind the shackled penguin march. Furthermore, by virtue of its magnitude and methods, ICE’s New War is unabashedly the aggressive deployment of its own brand of immigration reform, without congressional approval. “In FY07, as the debate over comprehensive immigration reform moved to the forefront of the national stage, ICE expanded upon the ongoing effort to re-invent immigration enforcement for the 21st century” (3). In recent years, DHS has repeatedly been accused of overstepping its authority. The reply is always the same: if we limit what DHS/ICE can do, we have to accept a greater risk of terrorism. Thus, by painting the war on immigration as inseparable from the war on terror, the same expediency would supposedly apply to both. Yet, only for ICE are these agendas codependent: the war on immigration depends politically on the war on terror, which, as we saw earlier, depends economically on the war on immigration. This type of no-exit circular thinking is commonly known as a “doctrine.” In this case, it is an undemocratic doctrine of expediency, at the core of a police agency, whose power hinges on its ability to capitalize on public fear. Opportunistically raised by DHS, the sad specter of 9/11 has come back to haunt illegal workers and their local communities across the USA. ”

” A line was crossed at Postville. The day after in Des Moines, there was a citizens’ protest featured in the evening news. With quiet anguish, a mature all-American woman, a mother, said something striking, as only the plain truth can be. “This is not humane,” she said. “There has to be a better way.””

The immigration raid was described at the time by the local TV channel:

As Missy points out, the blogger Border Explorer has been continuously reporting on these events. This five-minute video by the Sojourners, linked from Missy’s blog, captures the real impact of the devastating immigration raid on this town:

The big question is what can be done to combat this sort of thing in the future, to limit the growing power of the DHS/ICE? Can the next administration act? Can Congress? Clearly, a great deal of immigration reform is needed immediately. How can this be done?

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  1. barbara’s avatar

    Hi Mardé,
    Once again, I’m learning from your blog…
    I had no idea for ICE, and I’m really freaking out reading about what happened in Potsville Iowa.
    I really feel bad for those workers and their families.

    Thanks agin my friend, for showing this 😉

  2. Mardé’s avatar

    Thanks for your comment, Barbara. I added a new paragraph just now describing how the immigrants were shackled in chains, but it’s all in the report.

  3. Missy’s avatar

    Ironically, when this came down the federal raid dissected a state investigation into labor abuses by Agriprocessors. I understand the state has turned over to it’s attorney general over 57 egregious cases of child labor violations. Thank goodness, because it was looking like Agriprocessors was going to get off scott free.

    Thanks so much for helping to spread the word, Marde.

  4. Border Explorer’s avatar

    Thanks very much for spreading the word on this situation. I love your title: Dangerous ICE.
    I await a politician, a leader with spine, who will tackle the need for immigration reform with determination.

  5. Mardé’s avatar

    Thanks for your comments, Missy and Border Explorer. This is incredible what’s going on, what has gone on. New documents have come out over the weekend, including the release by the ACLU of a script used by judges and attorneys in the “fast-tracked” legal proceedings. See here.

    I still need to listen to NPR’s ON-Point which you provided the link to, Border Explorer.

    Here’s some responses from people on the topix forum which are pretty much off the wall. It’s amazing how polarized and just plain ignorant so many people are. The media can be blamed for a lot of it.

  6. Luis Argueta’s avatar

    I’d like to find the name of the public defendant who refused to participate in the Waterloo judicial proceedings. I believe his last name is Cole or Dole.
    I’d appreciate any help on this.

  7. Mardé’s avatar

    Hi Luis,
    I haven’t been able to find the “public defendant who refused”. I didn’t know they could refuse, especially if they were shackled, which all of them were. Did you mean “interpreter”?


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