ICE Is So Toxic That The DHS's Investigative Wing Is Asking To Be Completely Separated From It

from the annul-this-arranged-marriage-please dept

The Department of Homeland Security is trying to distance itself from its most toxic asset, the Washington Post reports:

Federal agents from Homeland Security Investigations say they have been kicked out of joint drug operations, shunned by local police departments and heckled at campus career fairs. Their parent agency, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, carries a stigma that is undermining their investigative work across the country, the agents said in an internal report.

The agents say they face a backlash in liberal “sanctuary” jurisdictions where authorities strictly limit contact with ICE but also in some Republican-led states where politicians are vocal in their support for the agency. And the toll on HSI agents is “getting worse,” according to the report that was prepared by a working group of agents formed by HSI to consider changes to the agency’s place within the Department of Homeland Security.

ICE has always been controversial. Under President Trump, the agency was unleashed. It willingly embraced its awfulness, deploying everything from fake warrants to fake colleges in its war on foreign residents and would-be immigrants, many of whom were here legally. It courted controversial tech companies to expand its surveillance arsenal and made it clear it was interested in ejecting as many foreign people as possible, rather than the “worst of the worst” Trump claimed his immigration policies targeted.

But now it’s clear that working with ICE means not actually getting any work done. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents have informed the DHS Secretary that partnering with ICE has all sorts of negative side effects. Agents are complaining about threats to their personal safety, crime victims being unwilling to engage with investigators due to ICE presence, and harming relationships with local law enforcement. ICE is a drain on resources due to its horrendous reputation. Here’s how the HSI agents put it in their letter to DHS officials:

“HSI’s affiliation with ICE significantly impedes investigations and HSI’s ability to fulfill its mission.”

Unfortunately, it appears this is unlikely to result in HSI decoupling from ICE. It would take an act of Congress to do so, and support for this sort of division is far from universal. The other solution is just as unlikely to happen: the rehabilitation of ICE’s image.

ICE has done a lot of damage to its reputation due to its willingness to become the embodiment of xenophobic presidential directives and policies. It could rein itself in, but any rehabilitation could easily be undone by the next president to take office. Most people never truly believed someone like Trump could ever be elected, but millions of Americans proved us wrong in 2016. All bets are off.

ICE’s response to the assertions in this letter is less than helpful. The agency, through a spokesperson, says nothing but uses a lot of words to deliver its nonexistent message:

In a statement, ICE spokeswoman Paige Hughes said the agency “relies on close working relationships with its state, local, and international partners,” but she did not elaborate on the details of the report. She added: “ICE refrains from discussing deliberations publicly with its partners to maintain operational security and in recognition of the sensitive nature of many of our activities.”

Congress may not be willing to bless a HSI-ICE divorce. But it’s clear from this letter that federal agencies forced to partner with ICE are being held back by ICE’s negative reputation. And ICE can’t blame anyone else for being so toxic its federal partners want nothing to do with it. It may have received questionable directives from the former president, but it was under no obligation to carry these out with as much enthusiasm and zeal as it did.

Plenty of federal agencies are capable of barely meeting the minimal requirements of Congressional and presidential mandates. ICE could have slow-walked its “toss out the brown people” directives until power changed hands. Instead, it showed itself to be an enthusiastic participant in bigoted policies, making it clear the 2016 regime change had simply allowed it to be the thuggish enforcer of immigration law it had always wanted to be.

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Comments on “ICE Is So Toxic That The DHS's Investigative Wing Is Asking To Be Completely Separated From It”

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37 Comments
PVP Cat says:

Re: Re:

Our country faces a long-overdue historic reckoning on justice, race, and equality. This moment demands that we align our law enforcement agencies with the communities we are sworn to protect. Unfortunately, since its inception, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been irreparably tainted by its use as a political instrument. Even now, despite the glut of window dressing and decorative language being used by Alejandro Mayorkas, the agency’s chief operating officer is none other than the primary architect of the Trump administration’s deportation machine. Let that sink in for a moment. Yes, the person who authorized the jailing, separation, and deportation of 1,000s of migrant families is the Biden administration’s right-hand on all matters concerning Immigration enforcement. It’s worth noting that everyone apart from the COO can see the stings of a marionette being worked feverishly by a political marionettist whose career aspirations are only rivaled by their remarkable lack of experience.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

He’s only "the primary architect" in the sense that Trump’s deportation policy was not a broad departue from Obama’s policy, which Mayorkas did lead for years, and continued to lead until Trump replaced him half a year after starting.

Of course, deportation policy has not been all that different under any administration for decades, so even that isn’t really a creation of Mayorkas in any meaningful sense.

If anything can be laid specifically at the feet of Alejandro Mayorkas, it’s the implementation of DACA.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

"Unfortunately, since its inception, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been irreparably tainted by its use as a political instrument."

In smaller scale plenty of countries have found their immigration bureaus tainted from the start. Apparently setting up an agency dedicated to keeping, mainly, non-white foreigners out of the country attracts a lot of people dedicated to racist ideals.

Who knew, right?

Anonymouse says:

Re: Re:

Its been almost a year. Biden has everybody in charge that he wants in charge. Its like all of Trump’s tarriffs that still havent been reduced or eliminated that are a large part of the accelerating inflation. If Biden wanted to do anything about it… he would.

Don’t forget. One of Biden’s campaign promises was that he would continue with all of Trump’s policy decisions. And he has.

Anonymous Coward says:

Agents are complaining about threats to their personal safety, crime victims being unwilling to engage with investigators due to ICE presence, and harming relationships with local law enforcement.

Is this saying that ICE helped the HSI find local law enforcement that has some moral backbone?
Or are they try to say that barrels of bad apples want nothing to do with them anyone who associates with ICE?

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Canada and ICE

Personally, I’m glad that COVID has been the wake-up call which was needed to make Canada finally secure its southern borders and keep the bad hombres out. It takes a certain unsubtle level of hypocrisy for US politicians to endlessly demand to build walls on their own country’s southern border and then complain when Canada closes its southern borders to non-essential traffic. Reps Brian Higgins (D-Buffalo) and Elise Stefanik (R-Northern NY) are among the worst when it comes to US politicians attempting to dictate Canada’s policies for securing its southern border, but there are many others. The border to Point Roberts WA must remain closed to keep out the Delta variant; the locals need to understand this instead of whining endlessly that loss of commercial access to the Vancouver BC market is hitting the bottom line. If foreigners are bad, then accept that foreigners will be keeping their pesos, loonies or other weird foreign currency on their own side of the line. Build that wall.. a mari usque ad mare.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Forgot to be mentioned is how US CITIZENS keep getting detai

That most likely pre-dates ICE and the Department of Homeland Insecurity by decades. Heck, Cheech and Chong were joking about "la migra" deporting US citizens to México in 1985, with a whole song ("Born in east LA") about it. DHS was created post 2001-09-11 but the US attitude toward the southern border has always been ugly and racist. Same poop, different pile at best.

Anonymous Coward says:

Most people never truly believed someone like Trump could ever be elected, but millions of Americans proved us wrong in 2016. All bets are off.

Remember, those millions believed that Trump was the best choice out of all the presidential candidates. If you want to keep people like Trump from becoming president, then make sure to offer better choices in future elections.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

This is true. What’s also true is that despite people being motivated en masse to risk a deadly pandemic, for whose effects Trump was largely responsible, in order to vote him out, a record number of people also voted to keep him in power.

You can give these people a better choice, it’s much harder for them to actually choose it. Decades of propaganda has fooled them into thinking that Republicans are the ones with their best interests at heart, that the guy with solid gold toilets and a litany of bankruptcies is a competent businessman fighting for the common working man, and that the people involved with prosecuting Nixon’s impeachment and the battle for civil rights in the 60s are the ones who are corrupt fascists. Fighting against that takes more than simply offering a choice that’s demonstrably better..

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"When one of the options for a political office is Trump it’s near impossible not to offer a better choice."

In reality, yes.

Look at what that base consists of though. We’re looking at a lot of people with piss-poor or spotty education who were the ones hit the hardest by Reagan. And have been repeatedly told by the grifter of their choice that everything they’ve suffered is the democrats fault since they were old enough to walk.
Adherents of the american cult of ignorance Asimov wrote off, who grew up to believe education was unamerican – only to find out that without a college degree the only job they could hold was one they’d have to spend ten hour working days on to make ends meet.

To get through the day they self-medicate on that cheap and readily available drug of grievance they are fed in such bountiful supply by the GOP.

The democrats could win that base over, no sweat. They just have to stop talking in big words and start telling the GOP base whom to hate in simple catchy one-liners and talking points.

The better choice doesn’t even have to do with politics, facts, or the prosperity of the citizenry now. It revolves around the candidate able to come up with the best chant to hold daily two minute hate sessions around.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

"The democrats could win that base over, no sweat. They just have to stop talking in big words and start telling the GOP base whom to hate in simple catchy one-liners and talking points."

The catch 22 is that by doing so they lose their own existing base, since there’s no way for ideals like equality to co-exist with such a thing. Democrats exist as they are now because there’s no viable left-wing party in the US and so the centre-right party that at least pays lip service to things like gay rights, racial equality and employee protections gains a bunch of votes simply by virtue of not being the party that actives works against them, even if in reality those things aren’t addressed to any great degree.

If they push any further to the right, especially if they do so by attacking some group as an easy scapegoat for all of life’s problems – I dare say their base would shrink drastically. Whether in the long term that meant an actual left-wing or properly centrist party would for as a viable concern or whether it would just be another grouping of people who don’t fully agree with each other but stick together for the sake of not voting in actual evil is another question.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

"The catch 22 is that by doing so they lose their own existing base, since there’s no way for ideals like equality to co-exist with such a thing."

Would be nice if it was that clean-cut.

Cynically speaking I’m thinking democrats could use that tactic in red states where losing half their old base to independents wouldn’t hurt them. And democrats in blue states keep on trucking as per usual while their base holds their nose and keep voting for the shameless rather than the monstrous as they always have. Voíla. One gift-wrapped presidential election.

Of course that would be Humfrey Appleby levels of cynicism. Hardly recommended for anyone not already a moral vacuum.

"If they push any further to the right, especially if they do so by attacking some group as an easy scapegoat for all of life’s problems…"

Depends. There’s a ready-made target in The Rich – whose "privileges" are defended by the GOP base only because no one’s yet bothered to point out just whose fault it is that they are living in the most abject misery.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: shooting oneself in the foot

What’s sad to watch? Communities along the northern border who voted for Trump not once but twice, but which are now whining that other countries have closed their borders to non-essential traffic from the US.

Trump and his supporters, by failing to take the Wuhan COVID virus and its variants seriously, allowed the absolute number of cases and absolute number of fatalities in the US to exceed those of any other country on the planet. Of the more than five million COVID fatalities to date, about 800,000 are American, compared to about 30,000 in Canada – and this despite the population difference between those two countries being less than 10:1.

Of course the borders are closed. Why wouldn’t they be? Just be glad if other countries don’t start building walls and send you the bill… that’s how the US treats its neighbours and every action has an equal and opposite reaction – especially with public safety at stake.

Anonymous Coward says:

Meanwhile when actual good cops have to work with racists, homophobes and power trippers, absolutely nothing gets done – not even a complaint. Unless there’s enough public pressure to make ignorance sufficiently inconvenient. And even then, punishment is typically the exception instead of the rule. And that’s not even getting to the likelihood that offenders are simply shuffled to another department to continue doing what they do best: being a bullying asshole.

It’s nice to see people in power actually bemoan how much it sucks when the organization you work for doesn’t prune the rot like it’s supposed to, but any hope of meaningful change happening is pretty damn slim. On the other hand… the fact that they are people in power makes it very hard to eke out a modicum of sympathy.

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