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ICE has no place in our community

An editorial published July 23 in the Albuquerque Journal completely mischaracterized and missed the point regarding the motivation behind the call to abolish the rogue federal agency known as ICE —U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

While the editorial board focused on relaying the same Trump rhetoric we’ve been hearing since the campaign days – pushing a mass deportation plan in the name of “national security” – it seems members completely overlooked the reality being lived by immigrant and refugee families and the extensive evidence that has exposed the atrocities carried out by the very agency they are so eager to uplift and protect.

According to a recently published article by The Intercept, the news agency obtained “1,224 complaints filed between January 2010 and September 2017, primarily about (sexual abuse) incidents that took place in ICE custody.”

This is only a small portion made public of the total 33,000 complaints filed from 2010 through 2016, according to officials with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General (OIG).

Although the OIG is tasked with reviewing the different agencies found within DHS – to ensure these agencies are functioning within federal guidelines and are held accountable – only 43 out of the 1,224 complaints were investigated by the OIG.

The reality is ICE continues to operate without regard for the law, human rights and the need for transparency. These points were raised in two recent reports by the OIG exposing concerns about ICE’s treatment of detainees and their ongoing failure to meet federal guidelines for their detention services contracting.

Hunting people of color

In the Journal’s editorial the writers recognize the agency “has had problems” but assert ICE “doesn’t troll neighborhood streets demanding to see identification papers.” While this perception may be misguided due to the oblivious reality lived by the authors of such an opinion piece, facts cannot be dismissed: immigrants and refugees are being hunted down.

Just last month, ICE boasted about their “largest workplace immigration raid” in recent history, resulting in the arrest of 146 individuals at a major meat supplier in northeast Ohio.

Here in the Land of Enchantment, ICE has been detaining dozens of people outside our courts.

Such was the case for 19 year-old Miguel Castillo-Ortiz, who was arrested by immigration agents on Jan. 11 on his way out of Albuquerque’s Metropolitan Court after appearing for a speeding ticket. His arrest led to his transfer to Otero Processing Center, where he spent three months away from his family and then-expecting fiancé, before being released on bond in May.

He now awaits an immigration hearing early next year to decide his fate with no certainty he will remain in the only place he calls home and alongside his newborn baby.

Deaths in custody

According to a recent CNN article, a new report by the Human Rights Watch concluded “half of recent immigrant detainee deaths are due to inadequate medical care” provided by ICE.

That includes the death of transgender detainee Roxsana Hernandez, who died while in custody of ICE in New Mexico after she was subjected to subhuman detention conditions and was denied medical care for her HIV condition.

So while some extremist ICE sympathizers continue to try and shine a good light on this rogue and terrorizing agency, no matter how you twist it, this agency does not belong in our communities.

The support for ICE only enables its abuse and acts of terror to continue, without regard to the real human suffering which this agency thrives on and perpetuates right here in New Mexico.