A year ago, 87-year-old concentration camp survivor Bernard Marks addressed US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Thomas Homan and Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones in a public forum about the merciless ways Nazis detained Jewish people, like himself, during World War Two. Marks then described what he saw as the parallel tactics used by ICE agents against immigrants in his community of Sacramento, CA.
“History is not on your side,” said Marks to the two officials. The video resurfaced this weekend amid tensions between ICE and immigrant communities and their advocates. Now, the American Civil Liberties Union says that Congress needs to look into ICE’s abusive forms of detainment and deportation motives.
“We cannot let Donald Trump go unchallenged or ICE abuses left unaddressed.” Brian Tashman, ACLU Political Researcher and Strategist, wrote in a blog post Friday. “Politicians who want to lead on immigration need to speak up and deal with the reality that ICE needs to be held to account for its abuses and lawlessness.”
The past year has seen immigrants detained while they drop off their kids at school, while meeting with their lawyers as instructed by law, on their way to hospitals, while riding the bus, at demonstrations, for purportedly hanging around with a “bad crowd,” at work, while leaving church, and more. The list goes on and on. ICE has responded on numerous occasions by saying they’re just doing their job, but some of their tactics have been proven to be illegal.
One of Trump’s primary objectives has always been to deport undocumented immigrants by whatever means necessary, and it appears that Homan is enthusiastically on board. On January 31, Homan spoke at the Border Security Expo in San Antonio, Texas. There, he proudly declared that he would never back down from the forceful statement he made in a speech last year: “If you’re in this country illegally, and you committed a crime by entering this country, you should be uncomfortable, you should look over your shoulder.”
Homan was also quoted as saying that he told Homeland Security Investigations that he wants “400 percent increase in worksite enforcement.” When speaking about his role as ICE director, he reportedly said: “This isn’t a job I particularly wanted in the beginning. But I’ll tell you what, I’m enjoying it.”
ICE detainments aren’t new by any means. Immigration officials set a record for deportations under President Obama. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations reported 230,000 deportations in 2015 and 240,000 in 2016. Last year, under Trump, they reported 226,000 removals.
While detainment and deportation remain par for the course, current concerns from the ACLU rest on how ICE is targeting undocumented immigrants and the potentially illegal ways they’re going about it.
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(Images by Spencer Platt/Getty + Sarah Tate/Brit + Co)