The Banality Of ICE

If you’re a decent person, you are disgusted by stories like this about how asylum seekers in the custody of ICE are being treated (boldface mine):

-Travelled thru Mexico without a problem. They had hosts who would lookout for them. Crosses the Rio Grande on a boat with a lot of other people and comes into the US. They hide under a bridge for hours and it’s dark, wet, cramped and full of mosquitoes. She actually wants to get caught because she is seeking asylum. They get caught by ICE and are taken to a holding place that they call the ICE box. It’s so cold that she gets sick and she is held there for over 16 hours.
-While she’s held in the detention center she is separated from 2 of her children. At one point her child becomes extremely sick with a horrible fever and she won’t stop crying. The mother isn’t able to get to her daughter and begs ICE agents to help her daughter. They say no she has to wait her turn. She describes it that you have to be dying before anyone cares.
-She describes the treatment from ICE agents as cruel. They make fun of them constantly and make them sign papers and lie about what they’re signing. They tease them like oh you’ve just signed papers to send you to Russia to go to the World Cup. They make fun of their names and where they come from. She says the immigration folks are fine, but it’s ICE who is cruel.
-She also describes drills that they are put thru where they are woken up every several hours and made to recite whatever the ICE agents tell them. They are told that Donald Trump wants them to stay, but that it’s Congress who is making them go. They are constantly asked what they think about Trump and told that he is a good man.

But it’s the Trump Administration, so, of course, it gets worse (boldface mine):

Two weeks after arriving in the US seeking asylum, E, 23, found herself in a detention cell in San Luis, Arizona, bleeding profusely and begging for help from staff at the facility. She was four months pregnant and felt like she was losing her baby. She had come to the US from El Salvador after finding out she was pregnant, in the hopes of raising her son in a safer home.

“An official arrived and they said it was not a hospital and they weren’t doctors. They wouldn’t look after me,” she told BuzzFeed News, speaking by phone from another detention center, Otay Mesa in San Diego. “I realized I was losing my son. It was his life that I was bleeding out. I was staining everything. I spent about eight days just lying down. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t do anything. I started crying and crying and crying.”

…While the national focus has been on family separations, another Department of Homeland Security policy quietly introduced by the Trump administration five months earlier has devastated women fleeing violence in their home countries: the detention of pregnant women not yet in their third trimester.

Before that directive, which the Trump administration implemented in December before announcing it in March, ICE was under an Obama administration–era directive not to detain pregnant women except in extreme circumstances or in relatively rare cases of expedited deportation.

…But BuzzFeed News has found evidence that that directive is not being carried out. Instead, women in immigration detention are often denied adequate medical care, even when in dire need of it, are shackled around the stomach while being transported between facilities, and have been physically and psychologically mistreated.

In interviews and written affidavits, E and four other women who’ve been in ICE detention and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody while pregnant told of being ignored when they were obviously miscarrying, described their CBP and ICE-contracted jailers as unwilling or unable to respond to medical emergencies, and recounted an incident of physical abuse from CBP officers who knew they were dealing with a pregnant woman. Those descriptions were backed by interviews with five legal aid workers, four medical workers, and two advocates who work with ICE detainees.

The incidents were not limited to a single detention center. Three medical workers and five legal aid workers who spoke to BuzzFeed News all said they had seen — and some had documented — cases of pregnant women not receiving or being denied medical care in more than six different detention centers in California, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.

I wonder what any of those ‘pro-life’ judges think about de facto forced abortions.

It’s pretty clear ICE, to a considerable extent, is a makework program for racists and sociopaths. But what is as disturbing, perhaps more so, if not as viscerally shocking is the entire system to deal with this Kafkaesque cruelty (boldface mine):

Look at that and think about how many adults participating in this farce are able to keep in character while doing it. Kids as young as three are being obligated to appear alone in whatever they’re calling these obviously illegitimate on their face pseudo-legal proceedings, conducted in a language they do not understand, and somehow everyone involved was told this was to be the case and they nodded and said “OK see ya tomorrow at 8 AM, then!

Like, how do you do it. I know employment is a sticky web, and sooner or later we all get asked to do things we don’t want to do and obviously the need to keep ourselves financially solvent prevents us from storming out in a fit of indignity. But you really have to wonder how any of the adults – the “judge”, the various representatives of the government, etc. – were told to do this and didn’t have some hill-to-die-on reservations. That none thought, “OK this is fucking ridiculous, too ridiculous even for someone with a high tolerance for ridiculous.” That none thought, “Do I really want my name on the wall next to a picture of this in a museum exhibit in fifty years? Is this what I want my name associated with, even obliquely?”

We’re all cynical enough to have lost faith in individuals’ sense of shame to avert atrocities, but even still I struggle to understand how any adult could learn about this and decline to…say no. Just say, “No, I’m not doing that.” Not in a big, dramatic movie scene sort of way, but a simple, “Look, I’m essentially impossible to fire as a federal employee anyway, so go ahead and try if you want. But I’m not doing this.” sort of way. I know there are sick fuckers out there in the world – Stephen Miller types who legitimately enjoy the idea of making certain people suffer – but they usually do so from a position of safe detachment. They aren’t the ones who actually have to show up in a courtroom and pretend that a six year-old Salvadoran runaway can represent himself in an immigration hearing.

One of the things about bureaucracy, judicial or otherwise, is that it has the ability to make routine and ordinary the horrific and obscene (not an original notion on my part). That makes it no less obscene, but it does make it tolerable. Normal. And this should not be normal.

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4 Responses to The Banality Of ICE

  1. thesseli says:

    Reblogged this on Thesseli.

  2. jonolan says:

    And the illegals could all avoid this by not sneaking into our country in the first place.

  3. Lynn Dewees says:

    ICE obviously attracts people who WANT to do these kinds of things. I don’t understand a judge, someone presumably with a law degree, who can sit in a courtroom and not just say “no”.

    He who represents himself is a fool, as Abe once said. And now 6 year olds are supposed to represent themselves?


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