The ICE Wants to Destroy Records of Abuses Against Immigrants

Even before Donald Trump was officially sworn in as president, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had increased its detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants in anticipation of policy changes.

Under Obama, ICE had been directed to focus its energies on apprehending undocumented immigrants with criminal records, in particular those with violent histories. With Trump in the White House, though, ICE has been casting its net as wide as possible, pursuing any and all undocumented immigrants regardless of criminal status.

Unfortunately, it has not stopped there. Reports have surfaced that ICE is now actually deporting immigrants who are in the country legally. This is an unambiguous violation of current immigration laws and serves as a serious disregard for civil rights.

Now that ICE’s illegal actions have gained the public’s attention, the agency is reportedly seeking permission to destroy certain types of documentation relating to what is happening in its detention centers.

Included among the 11 types of records ICE wants destroyed are those that concern incidents of sexual assault and death, other reports of abuses, records concerning solitary confinement and more.

As with any federal agency, changing the way records are handled requires the permission of the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA). Though a final decision has yet to be made, NARA has given preliminary clearance for ICE to proceed.

So far, NARA has provided some worrying justifications for this action. They have stated that records like those concerning deaths and sexual assaults that occur in ICE detention centers “do not document significant actions of Federal officials”. Sexual assault records, in particular, NARA says, are “highly sensitive and [do] not warrant retention.”

In what reality are deaths and sexual assaults not “significant actions”?

ICE has faced accusations of rights abuses and criticism over a policy that seems deliberately opaque. Under Trump, ICE’s role seems set to expand enormously and will undoubtedly entail the detention of many individuals.

Since this seems to be an inevitability, ICE’s operations must become more transparent so that they can be held to a necessary level of accountability. However, this seems to run counter to the ICE leadership’s trend of using secrecy to its advantage, regardless of the civil and human rights implications.

Even putting this angle aside, what possible benefit is there in the destruction of these records? The records have already been made, so manpower will not be spared – if anything, more will be required in order to purge the documents. Hard drive storage is hardly an expensive resource, either. Is it even fathomable that trashing these documents has any logical purpose other than to cover up rights abuses?

Regardless of whether people are in the United States with legal documentation or not, their human rights must be respected – there can be no exceptions.

The vast majority of those being affected by ICE’s sweeping detentions this year are guilty of little more than lacking proper documentation; to treat them as less than human is not only a travesty but it is an extremely disturbing omen of how this administration will deal with individuals it deems a legal nuisance.

Take action!

It is not too late, however. The National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) has not yet given final approval to ICE regarding the shredding of its documents. If you agree that NARA should reconsider its position, please add your name to our petition in addition to sharing it on social media for maximum exposition!

Concerned about an issue? Want to raise awareness about an injustice? Join your fellow Care2 users by learning how to make your own petition and make your voice heard today!

Photo Credit: lolostock / Thinkstock

54 comments

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Jack Y
Jack Y4 months ago

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John J4 months ago

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John J4 months ago

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Marie W
Marie W7 months ago

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Paulo R9 months ago

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Paulo R9 months ago

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Stephanie Y11 months ago

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Stephanie Y11 months ago

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