They call them “xenophobes”, but they don’t care; They call them “racists”, but they don’t care; They call them “Nazis”, but they don’t care. They are agents of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; whose acronym is terrifying: ICE. They just “follow the law,” they repeat over and over again. The “law” of “Zero Tolerance” that Donald Trump implemented with executive orders, without support from Congress. “Law” that treats undocumented immigrants as criminals and separates them from their children. But they don’t care.
International pressure, protests from governments most loyal to Washington allies and even Pope Francisco’s condemnation for being an “immoral” policy did not matter to the resident of the White House either. It took the order from a federal judge in California to end the “Zero Tolerance” for Trump, visibly angry, to grudgingly sign its revocation in June 2018. At this time, children separated from their immigrant parents were counted by the thousands. Nearly 6,000, according to various federal agencies. If it was revoked in 2018, why do I write that ICE “separates” immigrants from their children, in the present tense? Simple: a year after such a revocation, in July 2019, Trump’s ICE continued to segregate immigrant parents and children. Almost a thousand children in that year alone. And even today, there are testimonies that it continues to separate them. And so it goes on. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has sued them in court.
Tolerance in the past I write in the first person, against my habit as a journalist, to tell my own experience. In March 1990, I obtained permission to interact for six days with the New York Police, in the precinct (police station) of “El Barrio”, the “Hispanic Harlem”, the most dangerous ‘ghetto’ in Manhattan. The police officers I met had nothing to do with ICE, which was still non-existent. Agents Lozada, Funaro, Guilfoyle, Delmaestro, Veaz, Kaminski and Reeves, under the command of Captain Dogherty and Lieutenants Mccullough, Lacyo and Holtz, were tolerant of the “undocumented”, as long as they did not commit crimes. Neither in New York, nor in Philadelphia, nor in Baltimore, nor in Washington DC, nor in Chicago, nor in Rochester, nor in Minneapolis did I suffer the slightest gesture of rejection because of my Hispanic appearance, being Spanish. The president of the United States at the time was George H. Bush (father) and it was eleven years before the 9/11 attacks, which changed American society.
A harvest of terror ICE was a consequence of the National Security Law of 2002, the result of that savage terrorist attack. ICE was created in March 2003. But it was not until the arrival of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States, that in January 2017, the acronym ICE became synonymous with terror for undocumented immigrants, even to the most rooted and embedded in American society. ICE agents pose as police officers when they are actually administrative officials. They enter the homes of immigrants with threats and deceptions. The immigrants are detained and handcuffed in front of their young children and wives. And, incidentally, all the people around them are also detained; ICE agents call them “collaterals”. A Netflix documentary series shows this harsh reality, a series which broadcast Donald Trump has sought to prevent, at least until the presidential elections were held, but couldn’t.
“Where are the good Americans?” “Where are the good Americans?”, asks an “undocumented” migrant separated from his five-year-old daughter in the Netflix documentary, remembering that when he was little, a United States soldiers brought food and candy to his village. “ICE separates families like the Nazis did with the Jews in Auschwitz”, has been displayed on the banners of protesters demanding the abolition of the ICE. But ICE agents, cold as ice, do not care. It was like this that the Hitler Youth and the dreaded SS began.But Trump and his ICE “soldiers” don’t care. “But we care. We care because we recognize that little girl, scared and asking for help. She so easily could have been family, a friend—it doesn’t matter. We recognize the call for humanity when we hear it. Those Nazi soldiers in Auschwitz lost their humanity. Agents of ICE and these “Zero Tolerance” efforts have lost their humanity. Come November, remember that call for humanity. Our choice is clear. Be those good Americans the undocumented father is asking about.
PROUDLY POWERED BY SOL DE MEDIANOCHE CO. Sol de Medianoche is a monthly publication of the Latino community in Anchorage, Alaska