‘Abolish ICE’ May Birth New Deportation-Focused Agency If Politicians Take Over

© AFP 2023 / Jose CABEZASAn Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer guards a group of 116 Salvadorean immigrants that wait to be deported,at Willacy Detention facility in Raymondville, Texas on December 18, 2008
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer guards a group of 116 Salvadorean immigrants that wait to be deported,at Willacy Detention facility in Raymondville, Texas on December 18, 2008 - Sputnik International
If demonstrators allow US lawmakers to take over the Abolish ICE movement, politicians in power may just create a new agency that’s still focused on targeting and deporting immigrants, Karla Reyes, an immigration activist and teacher in the NYC public school system, told Sputnik.

ICE is an acronym for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency under the US Department of Homeland Security.

The activist is just one of many who will be involved in demonstrations taking place across the Land of the Free on Saturday. Participants will be demanding an end to family detentions and the return of more than 2,000 children who were separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border.

Reyes told Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear on Friday ahead of the scheduled protest this weekend that it should also be noted such immigration policies didn't just begin with US President Donald Trump.


​"In 1992, there was INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) that was targeting immigrant gang members for deportation," Reyes told show host John Kiriakou. "In 1996, [former US President Bill] Clinton signed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, which made it easier to deport people — even permanent residents. In 2005, there was Operation Community Shield, targeting MS-13."

"In 2014, [former US Secretary of State] Hillary Clinton was saying, ‘send all these child migrants back across the border,' because there was another upsurge of unaccompanied minors coming across the border, escaping the violence of Central America — violence that US foreign policy has created in… decades of military intervention, counter-revolutionary violence and neoliberalism policies like NAFTA," she continued.

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Stressing the importance that others take note of the US' long history of criminalizing immigrants, she told Kiriakou that "it's really been a creation of US foreign policy."

"It's really an important point to highlight, too, that this isn't a new phenomenon and this is not Trump's inhumanity, because that can get us in a trap of wanting to make detention centers more humane or making deportations more humane and just," Reyes said. "There's no such thing as a humane deportation, there's no such thing as a humane detention centers or gentle interventions — that doesn't exist."

Looking ahead to the weekend protest, Reyes said that those taking part need to look beyond solely criticizing the practice of family separation and demanding better immigration policies as a whole.

"A main thing that we're focusing [on] for tomorrow's action is really building an independent movement that goes beyond family separations, but demanding full rights for all immigrants and no more detention centers, no more jails, ending to the criminalization of immigrants, which has been going on for decades before Trump, before [former US President Barack] Obama, but policies that they definitely continued," the activist urged.

And while politicians, including New York's Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Mayor Bill de Blasio, have jumped on the "Abolish ICE" bandwagon, Reyes warned that if lawmakers try to take over, it might lead to "ICE 2.0."

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"If we let the politicians in power kind of dictate what that looks like, it could look like another agency that has deportations going on," she told fellow host Nicole Roussell. "Abolishing ICE can just mean establishing another agency, which is why I think it's so important that independent elements of the movement really need to define it and bring more people along with them."

"It really could just look like another agency that just focusing as deportations renamed as they did in 2003. Like it used to be INS, but then it got broken up into citizenship services, ICE and border protection,' Reyes noted.

The main immigration rally will be held in Washington, DC, at 11 a.m. local time in the city's Lafayette Square, opposite Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House. Several speakers, including "Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and actress America Ferrera, will take part in kicking off the event, the Washington Post reported.

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