By: Matt Issent
ICE, an abbreviation for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency that is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), was formed March 1st 2003 under the Bush administration. This agency and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), also created on March 1st 2003, were formed from other prior federal agencies’ structures and functions and their duties and tasks were reorganized into these newly formed agencies.
ICE has received a lot of scrutiny recently for their separation of children from their family members at the U.S. Mexico border. Some immigrant children enter the U.S. without a family member and are only accompanied by human traffickers, upon detention. This begs the question of, if the children would be in better care away from the traffickers and in a centralized location where they can receive the highest level of care compared to the care they received along their trip north towards the U.S.
But what about the children? You can’t just deport them back to poverty and violence, can you? Does taking a long grueling trip north and crossing an ‘imaginary’ line give them the right to stay in the U.S. and provide them with a path towards citizenship? It could, in short, but it a very difficult and bureaucratic task to overcome alone as a non-English speaking child. A pathway to citizenship is most commonly accomplished by seeking the right to asylum in the U.S. for protection from the violence of the ‘drug wars’ of Central and South America.
While I would like to expand on the “War on Drugs” that has done everything but its intended goal of preventing the shipment and import of drugs into the U.S. from Central and South America; I’ll summarize and say that it has only increased violence, poverty, drug production and shipment within these countries who are practically under U.S. military occupation. A large portion of these immigrant children are leaving the affected countries of the U.S. “War on Drugs” giving them ample justification for asylum and refuge.
You may be surprised, as I was, in finding out that there is a Buffalo based ICE detention center. Visible from the I-90 in Batavia sits the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility where immigrants are held in just one of over 200 detention centers, jails, and prisons that are found across the nation but generally centered across the U.S. Mexico border.
It is important to remember that Americans are separated from their children constantly and prolifically:
“Right now, as you read this, hundreds of thousands of adults and children, disproportionately black and Latino, are in jails all over this country – not because they’ve been convicted of a crime, but because they cannot afford cash bail. Many of them will languish in jail not for days or weeks, but for months and years without ever being convicted of a crime. In fact, about 65 percent of people in local jails in this country on any given day have not been convicted of a crime. They are in jail simply because they cannot afford bail. They, too, are separated from their families.”
– Shaun King, The Intercept
In conclusion, the U.S. is responsible for the death and destruction it creates across Central and South America, the influx of migrants that have to leave war zones towards the U.S. in search of sanctuary, and it is solely responsible for the care of people it puts in harm’s way for drugs and control of this region; for further readings on the U.S. involvement in drug trafficking I recommend the reporting of the late Gary Webb and his book Dark Alliance.