US Immigration & Customs: Racism, Sexism, Medical Neglect, and Gross Abuse of Power – (ICE PART ONE)

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency effects all Americans as they work to sIcelogoecure our boarders and keep the country safe. It also effects the lives of millions of immigrants who come to the US to flee torture and persecution or in search of an environment where they can work hard and build a peaceful life. For years it has been acknowledged that the agency needed some policy changes, but since 2003 disturbing and ongoing issues of human injustice have come to light.

This is the first of a five-part look at areas of growing concern regarding Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in the US.

Let’s start at the top.

New ICE Director Lacks Immigration or Customs Experience

A recent concern about the agency was the appointment of it’s new director in 2005.

“That organization . . . is on some days almost dysfunctional.” In 2005 Jim Pasco used these words to describe the Agency of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,”the longest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security“. At the time Pasco was the executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, an organization representing several thousand ICE employees. He was expressing hope that the newly appointed ICE head, Julie Myers, would bring about long-needed changes to the department.

Others were less optimistic. Bush appointed her during a recess in Congress so that he would not need approval for his choice. An immediate clamor arose over Myer’s blatant lack of qualifications, specifically a dearth of immigration or customs experience. She did, however, come with profuse personal connections.

Maureen Dowd does a scathing commentary in the Times highlighting Myer’s familial connections and voicing the rampant observation of this appointment’s potential to echo the recent “Heckuva job, Brownie,” debacle.

Dowd writes

Ms. Myers’s main credentials seem to be that she worked briefly for the semidisgraced homeland security director, Michael Chertoff, when he was at the Justice Department. She just married Mr. Chertoff’s chief of staff, John Wood, and she’s the niece of Gen. Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In the two years since her appointment, to call the agency “dysfunctional” would seem to be a kindness. Recent headlines reveal a rash of discretions from racist to sexist to the catch-all of just plain wrong.

For now, let’s talk about racism in an agency that is charged with dealing sensitively and responsibly with with non-American citizens.

Head of ICE Praises Black-Faced Prisoner Costume at DoD Fundraiser.

It’s old news now, but Julie Myers not only condoned a white employee’s costume of dark face
make-up, dreadlocks, and prison garb, she and two other judges gave it the “most original” prize and posed for giddy snapshots with the winner. Offended employees drew attention to the incident and later Myers apologized:

It is now clear that, however unintended, a few of the costumes were inappropriate and offensive.

“A few of the costumes?” Only one was made public and the party photos have since gone under wraps.

Reappointment to her position, scheduled for this month, has been temporarily put on hold because of the “lack of judgment” she demonstrated at the fundraiser. (Lack of judgment, is that what it was?)

It is striking that with all the problems the ICE has with human rights issues, this is the problem that leads to any action whatsoever against top officials. This makes sense considering it spoke the loudest, was the most
public, and was relevant to the largest number of people. Too many horrible consequences are suffered by those without a voice. These non-American citizens suffer in darkness and because their stories aren’t widely known and public scrutiny isn’t turning up heat beneath the agency, ICE seems indifferent to making any real changes.

NEXT – Part Two: Immigrants Denied Adequate and Life Saving Healthcare…


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