The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s purpose is to enforce laws governing border control, customs, trade and immigration. However, ICE agents’ means of detainment are often inhumane and result in devastating effects for families. Cartoon by Suncana Pavlic
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s means of detaining people is often inhumane and irresponsible.
According to ice.gov, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency “enforces federal laws governing border control, customs, trade and immigration to promote homeland security and public safety.”
In general terms, it is tasked with enforcing immigration policies, investigating the illegal movement of people and goods and preventing terrorism. This includes the arrest, detainment and deportation of underdocumented people.
ICE is necessary.
Countries must have a means of regulating immigration, and ICE is a part of America’s legal system.
Those who work for ICE and detain underdocumented people are not inherently bad — they are simply doing their job. ICE does have flaws though, such as the fact it’s linked with terrorism, which further stigmatizes underdocumented people. However, the agency itself isn’t the main problem. What is problematic is the way in which ICE agents oftentimes carry out
their job, specifically detainments.
There are instances of children returning home to empty houses, people being brutalized and abused by ICE enforcement, parents having their child torn out of their arms, and most recently, the tracking down and harassment of a young girl with a disability.
On Oct. 24, 10-year-old Rosa Maria Hernandez was traveling to Driscoll Children’s Hospital — accompanied by her cousin Aurora — to receive a gallbladder surgery. According to American Civil Liberties Union, around 2 a.m., Customs and Border Protection stopped her medical transport vehicle at
a checkpoint and asked to see everyone’s “papers.”
After some probing questions, they allowed Rosa Maria and her cousin to go to the hospital but were
told Rosa Maria would be detained and processed for deportation post-surgery.They trailed the vehicle for 80 miles. Once at the hospital, armed male agents followed Rosa Maria everywhere stayed in the room while nurses checked her weight and vital signs and stood outside the open door while Rosa Maria waited to be taken into the operating room.
They arrested her when she woke up, still resting in bed recovering from her surgery.
ICE deportations and detainments affect the Georgia and Athens community significantly, and the unjust and often cruel means of detainment are nothing short of inhumane.
To track down, intimidate and detain a young girl not only when she is without her parents but also as she is receiving medical care is appalling. It is understood one of ICE agents’ jobs is to ensure public
safety, but is Rosa Maria seriously a public threat?
No, she is not a legal citizen, but having been brought here at three months old, is she to be held
responsible for actions that were not her own?
Inappropriate detainment of minors is not the only problem with ICE agents’ conduct. Actress Diane Guerrero spoke out about her family’s experience in 2014. Guerrero, only 14 years old at the time, experienced every child’s worst nightmare: she returned home from school one day to find her house empty, both her parents gone.
She detailed the immense fear and panic that set it once she realized what happened. Guerrero relied on neighbors and family friends for assistance in handling her and her brother’s life after their parents’ detainment and deportation.
Guerrero was never contacted by government authorities, never provided official aid in any way and was never even checked on. ICE agents simply took away her parents without bothering to check up on the child they left behind.
This is incredibly terrifying, irresponsible and dangerous situation to place a minor in. Had Guerrero not had supportive friends or neighbors, she would’ve been left to fend entirely for herself at age 14.
Horror stories like these are not uncommon, and they are not isolated incidents. ICE deportations and detainments affect the Georgia and Athens community significantly, and the unjust and often cruel means of detainment are nothing short of inhumane.
Pinewoods Estates, a mobile home community in Athens, was raided by ICE in 2015, leaving many families broken, in fear and in need of assistance. Ordeals such as Rosa Maria’s and Diane Guerrero’s are occurring in our own community, happening to our own families, affecting our own peers.
To undergo an ordeal like detainment is traumatic, but to treat people as less than human is intolerable.