An anonymous ICE officer, reportedly furious at some of the agency’s alleged plans to to target young undocumented immigrants, has spoken out to the New Yorker about what the agent believes is a disturbing shift in the agency’s priorities.
Writer Jonathan Blitzer revealed that he has corresponded with the unidentified agent for four months. According to Blitzer, the agent agreed to share the contents of their chats after discovering new ICE plans which left the agent deeply troubled.
The agent told Blitzer that the agency plans to arrest and detain young undocumented people who entered the U.S. when they were minors once they turn 18. As Blitzer points out, many of those immigrants have grown up with families in the U.S., and are currently either in school or working.
“I don’t see the point in it,” the agent told Blitzer. “The plan is to take them back into custody, and then figure it out. I don’t understand it. We’re doing it because we can, and it bothers the hell out of me.”
The plans would be in line with what ICE has been advocating in recent months. Last week, Reuters reported that, according to an internal ICE memo, the agency has planned raids for this week that would target 16- and 17-year-olds who entered the U.S. illegally and without their legal guardians, and who are suspected of being members of gangs.
More broadly, acting ICE director Thomas Homan notoriously told all undocumented immigrants that, “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, and you need to be worried.”
The agent also spoke about other concerns. A couple of excerpts:
On the increasing backlog of cases at immigration courts:
We still have to make decisions based on a responsible use of the government’s resources—you can’t lock everybody up ... We’re putting more people into that overburdened system just because we can. There’s just this school of thought that, well, we can do what we want.
(Syracuse University’s TRAC Immigration project, which tracks immigration cases, reported that as of April, the backlog was so bad, that people had to wait an average of 670 days—or more—before having their case heard in court.)
On the past year at ICE:
I like predictability ... I like being able to go into work and have faith in my senior managers and the Administration, and to know that, regardless of their political views, at the end of the day they’re going to do something that’s appropriate. I don’t feel that way anymore.
Update, 4:01 PM: ICE responded to our request for comment.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is currently conducting a surge operation focused on the identification and arrest of family units, adults who entered the U.S. as unaccompanied alien children (UAC), and UACs who are at least 16 years old and have criminal histories and/or suspected gang ties.
All of the targeted individuals have been issued a final order of removal by a federal immigration judge, and have no appeals or motions to re-open their case before the nation’s immigration courts.
Attempting to unlawfully enter the United States as a family unit or UAC does not protect individuals from being subject to the immigration laws of this country.
As DHS Secretary Kelly and Acting ICE Director Homan have stated repeatedly, ICE prioritizes the arrest and removal of national security and public safety threats; however, no class or category of alien in the United States is exempt from arrest or removal.”