ICE has not melted

ICE still holding immigrants under questionable conditions

Editorial Board

a photos of a sign that reads "Northwest ICE Processing Center" with a chain link fence in front of it

Marissa Lordahl
The Northwest Ice Processing Center serves Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana but people may be sent here from anywhere in the U.S. while awaiting trial.

Eight Central American migrants sit at a table at an immigrant detention center in Adelanto, California eating breakfast. A guard calls for a routine count of detainees, asking them to return to their quarters. 

None of them move from the table in silent rebellion. 

Over the next five minutes, the use of pepper spray and physical force put down an “assault” on Immigration and Customs Enforcement staff, according to a report from the agency.

A video of this abuse of migrants at a California detention center raised concerns of widespread abuse at the hands of ICE detention center staff following months-long legal proceedings between immigration advocates and the government agency, according to NPR. The video was released among reports and other documents to check the agency’s treatment of migrants held in ICE  facilities.

The video was captured in 2017, two years before ICE became a heavily criticized target for immigrants and immigrant advocates. And although the video might be considered old against the pace of political issues, it still suggests that these are the conditions under which many immigrants are being currently held. Unfortunately, conversations about ICE have dropped off significantly before this video surfaced in February of 2020.

Google searches for “ICE immigration,” according to Google Trends as of mid-February 2020, are 9% of what they were in June of 2019 when widespread ICE raids around the country stoked fears about forced deportations of U.S. resident immigrants.  

In the current national conscience, those fears seem to have melted away on the road to the 2020 presidential elections. The cause for those fears, however, has not left. 

Although immigrant advocacy has been bolstered by the attention put on ICE raids in the summer of 2019, little has been done to truly change the systems surrounding both ICE and U.S. immigration.

According to the Congress.gov website, there have been 838 pieces of legislation simply introduced — not necessarily passed — by the House between 2019 and 2020. Only 13 have become law. Much of the legislation is aimed at reforming the conditions immigrants endure when seeking asylum, as well as seeking to start the naturalization process by which they can become a U.S. citizen.

But so far, this legislation has proved to move at a snail’s pace compared to the conditions immigrants have and continue to endure at ICE facilities. 

Children are still separated from parents and are given less than hospitable conditions; babies are under the care of under-prepared or under-resourced caretakers. Migrants, as seen in the video released by the court, have no absolute guarantee to a lawyer or any legal representation when in ICE detention. 

This behavior by the ICE should continue to be called out by the media. 

Not enough attention has been given to ICE. The less attention we give, the more abuses migrants will endure.