Is ICE Overstepping and Abusing Immigrants and Citizens Alike?

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has a high public profile thanks to the debate over immigration in the United States, and that means it’s been eyed carefully by people on all ends of the political spectrum for missteps. Some of those missteps have been large indeed, raising concerns about whether it’s time to clean house at ICE along with implementing serious immigration reform in the United States.

Seth Freed Wessler at Colorlines recently noted a banner week for ICE as the organization made the news several times for questionable practices. In Arizona, ICE apparently coached prosecutors in infamous Maricopa County on making slam-dunk cases for deportation, while a newly-released study showed that the majority of people placed on immigration holds had no prior criminal record, a direct refutation of the claim that ICE and the Obama Administration are focusing on criminals. To add insult to injury, leaked records revealed a systematic method for increasing deportations at all costs, rather than sticking to stated priorities.

The CEO of the largest private prison company in the U.S. says he’s not worried about immigration reform, and one can see why. Under the Obama Administration, detention and deportation are up, even as the administration publicly claims to be advancing programs like the DREAM Act to create a path to citizenship for immigrant youth. The current state of U.S. immigration policy is trending more draconian, with fewer paths to legal citizenship or residence, and more barriers for people who want to be in the country legally.

Private prisons are an especially profitable industry when it comes to immigrant detention, because there’s a constant demand, and limited oversight. Thanks to loopholes in the law, inmates can be detained for months or years without charges or a trial, and in some cases, they are legal residents of the United States who were swept up in immigration enforcement sweeps. Some lack competence to stand trial at all; inmates may have severe mental illnesses or cognitive impairments that make it impossible to understand what is going on, and lacking the legal right to representation, they can be deported by default.

While ICE is being given more power, and growing extremely rapidly, it may not merit the trust put it in by the government. Corruption is a growing problem at the border, where ICE agents have been accused of human trafficking and drug smuggling. INCITE! also notes a disturbing increase in violence at the border perpetrated by ICE agents, who have also been accused of rape and abuse within the immigration detention system in the U.S.

The United States counts on law enforcement officers to act with integrity, and yet ICE is being allowed to engage in human rights violations as well as corruption because the agency is growing so aggressively that it’s difficult to monitor. Furthermore, ICE justifies an existence slightly beyond legal supervision by arguing that it serves a critical function, and oversight could hinder its primary mission of keeping U.S. borders safe. Without that sorely needed supervision, immigrants are vulnerable to a system where they lack full legal protections and the watchful eyes of people concerned for their welfare.

Related posts:

A Once Undocumented Immigrant Reflects Upon Obama’s Plan

Immigration Ruling Could Have Wide Impact

Immigration Makes Our Cities Safer. Even In Arizona

Photo credit: Nevele Otseog


Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago

it costs thousands of dollars to become a citizen. It was $1600 just for the initial application, that application was ONLY for applying to have your case looked at. Then it was $1300 for the visa application, and thousands more to follow for the next few application. Not to mention years of waiting. For families who came here to save money to help there family, or to have access to medical care for their diseased, starving children, they simply do not have that money. If coming into a country illegally was the only way to save my childs life (be it from the government, starvation, illness ect) I would do it in a heartbeat. For parents who say they wouldn't bc it isn't the legal way? Shame on you

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill5 years ago

The US has some of the laxest laws in the world. A lot of other countries give out very harsh sentences for coming into their countries illegally. Just remember those poor hikers who happened to wander into Iran mistakenly. What we in the US need to remember is the illegal part of illegal alien.

Christina M.
Christina M5 years ago

While you think about immigration reform remember that these "illegal aliens" are real people with real lives, real ambitions, real feelings
They could help our economy, they could raise a future politician, they could be someone important. Or they could not be but don't they have a right to try? Against it? I bet you don't know anyone effected. If you do then ask them to tell you their story.

Yet the ICE has taken this approach as if we're at war with them. They have just as much of a right to be in america as anyone else.

Christina M.
Christina M5 years ago

"and more barriers for people who want to be in the country legally"

Many illegal Immigrants want to become citizens. Many of them are more american than I am and I was born here.

It's not right. My ancestors didn't have to pay thousands of dollars and go through an extreme process to get into this country
Sure it was a little difficult but now it's ridiculous

The us government is allowing people to come and get college degrees in this country then they're kicked out and told to go back to their country. how does that help our economy?

I know someone who has a b.a in international business and she can't help the economy because she came here illegally as a child brought here by her parents. she almost died coming here. she pays her taxes. She worked very very hard, a lot harder than people on welfare but she could be deported at any time. She works in a low end job instead of at her educated level. she could have become an entrepreneur and helped create job growth within her community

The people who make arguments saying they don't want "these people" in america make me sick. We need to be spending money on making our education systems better and encouraging growth in the economy through the youth of america
And through many other things
but spending an excessive amount of money on imprisoning people who aren't criminals and are just looking for better opportunities? that's just wrong.

So while you think about immigration reform remember that these "

Pamela Tracy
Pamela Tracy5 years ago

There should be a set date. After that date everyone goes back, even if they have no criminal record. We cannot become Mexico unless Mexico wants to give up and give us Mexico.

Care member
Care member5 years ago

Thanks for sharing

Ram Reddy
Ram Reddy5 years ago

Thanks for the article

Jennifer C.
Past Member 5 years ago

Thank you.

Erika B.
Erika B5 years ago

Thomas wrote: " Give me your restless, your super rich, Your Corporate masses yearning to be Persons, The wealthy elite of your scheming shore. Send these, the tax exempt, greedy sleaze to Wall Street, We lift our arrogant lamps beside the 14k golden door!" But don't dare let another brown-skinned person into their ancestors' Native Lands."

Another???? QUOTAS.....only so many at any given time.

Thomas H.
Thomas H5 years ago

"Give me your restless, your super rich,
Your Corporate masses yearning to be Persons,
The wealthy elite of your scheming shore.
Send these, the tax exempt, greedy sleaze to Wall Street,
We lift our arrogant lamps beside the 14k golden door!"

But don't dare let another brown-skinned person into their ancestors' Native Lands.