The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is a federal agency under the Department of Homeland Security, accredited with enforcing the immigration policies of the United States. Given the recent exacerbation of President Trump’s ‘Zero Tolerance’ Immigration Policy, the morality behind detainment methodologies — or the lack thereof — have become a growing concern. With the horror stories revolving around family separation, the death of children, and inhumane detention centers becoming heavily politicized, the government and its officials have become desensitized to the systematic flaws present in ICE. Therefore, it is imperative to become cognizant of these issues surrounding administrative rhetoric, the lack of transparency, financial mismanagement, and humanitarian violations in order to usher progress towards a real solution.


President Trump’s increasingly aggressive and anti-immigration rhetoric is based on fear mongering the public, in efforts to antagonize immigrants and asylum seekers. The degrees of extremity are best evidenced by President Trump’s more recent, and radically charged midterm political ad: depicting Central American invaders as attempting to overrun the nation in cooperation with Democrats, spreading malicious misinformation. However, it seems as though this behavior is becoming normalized with the epicenter of the midterms being laden with discussions about the “immigrant caravan”, Donald Trump Jr.’s comparing a border wall to being “like a zoo fence protecting you [Americans] from animals”, and Massachusetts Sheriff Hodgson suggesting exploitation of inmates for labor. These trends have set the tone of the governments narrative: hostile, arbitrary, partisan.


Moreover, the current immigration enforcement in the United States, carried out by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, lacks the transparency necessary in forcing a sense of integrity and accountability within the Department. Look towards the 287(g) program, a sector within ICE that delegates state enforcement agencies to enforce immigration policies; however, these local agencies have faced criticism due to the lack of local oversight. Recently the 287(g) program approved the removal of steering committees, thus limiting the scope of surveillance. The result being a lack of accountability with no tangible or direct answers to the pleas of public protest.


Over the past several years, American Immigration Enforcement has made detainment a profitable “game”, continuing to delegitimize ICE on the grounds of financial mismanagement. Returning to the 287(g) program, it is evident that one of the largest problems is the presence of the prison payment incentive, an intergovernmental service agreement in which ICE encourages detainment in compensation for monetary gains, proving profitable for jails. Immigration detention is an all-encompassing monopoly, involving a myriad of private contractors to benefit — prisons in charge of confinement, technology firms in charge of security, and transportation divisions.


However, the blemishes in current enforcement haven’t gone unnoticed, with most public disapproval centered around the humanitarian rights violations covered in media. With ICE increasing its negligence, basic living conditions of illegal immigrants and asylum seekers continue to deteriorate. Detention centers and the means of enforcement have become highly politicized and desensitized, at the expense of basic morality. Inhumane detention centers, unjust child hearings, family separation, abuse and fault allegations have all become common anecdotes of current immigration. Just recently have there been reports of detainment centers not abiding by regulatory procedures; whether that be their lack of mental health facilities, religious treatment or medical attention, the conditions have been dehumanizing. The neglect continues with the exuberant use of force upon detainment — deportation and imprisonment mechanisms have been largely frowned upon considering the use of tear gas and physical assault.


It seems as though President Trump has hit a wall, rather than promoting arbitrary borders and travel bans. Thus, the current administration must focus on a bipartisan plan that promises sustenance. The solutions being threefold: accessibility, oversight, prevention. To combat the root cause of illegal immigration, documentation and certified entry into the US must become a move viable process, possible through increased sponsorships, expanding the visa quota, etc. Second, there must be more local oversight to prevent power inflation and complacency. And third, the most proactive immigration policies must concentrate on preventing future illegality through strengthening security, rather than focusing on deportation. The United States must update its Immigration Enforcement in order to meet the expectations of humanity and justice.

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