Abolish ICE and the Entire System of Mass Incarceration With It

It's time to Abolish ICE

There has been a civil war within the Democratic Party for over 2 years now - and now Progressives are flexing their political strength on a Dem establishment that has failed on multiple fronts. 

They failed to stop Trump in 2016, they failed to stand up for DACA recipients, most importantly, they've failed historically due to their acceptance and complicity in helping to grow the police state, the prison-industrial complex, and mass incarceration.

The movement to #AbolishICE is picking up steam, led by Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez after her stunning victory against Representative Joseph Crowley in New York's 14th congressional district. One of the major elements of her platform was the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) which has turned into an immigration secret police. The type that comes under the cover of darkness and takes you or a family member to a cloaked detention center. 

There is a tremendous amount wrong with ICE and they've come to represent everything American's are growing to despise about our immigration policy under Trump. A so-called "zero tolerance" policy that I've already explained is consistent with other types of policy agendas that always involve waging war on black and brown communities.

The notion of abolishing ICE, the tip of the spear of Trump's human rights disaster, scares some conservatives and moderates in both parties. On television, you hear constant talk about "not going too far to the Left" when that's where all the energy and fresh ideas are. The same people demanding civility and moderation are the same ones who lost to Donald Trump in 2016 and attacked Progressives all-throughout the 2016 election. What many of them want is a return to the normalcy of the status quo, there will be a lot of resistance and false equivalencies made towards and against the Left.

People such as former Republican Steve Schmidt have said on MSNBC and CBS that the Democrats are going to move "too far to the Left" and alienate the rest of America. Understand this, recent polling suggests that an overwhelming majority of Americans (nearly 65%) oppose separating families at the border.

Even Republicans are split on the issue with half either opposing it or being unsure. This is likely why Trump has backtracked recently and said he'll keep the families together, but plans to fight with the Courts in an effort to detain them indefinitely. Why? How is replicating the 1940's internment of Japanese Americans (and we're not even in a World War like we were then) making America safer? Or greater? The answer is that it doesn't. This "zero tolerance" policy is a policy of fascism and xenophobic nationalism.

America's entire immigration debate reeks of "let's make sure we keep America white and protect the white majority." So this idea that abolishing ICE is "far left" and therefore unpopular from commentators such as Steve Schmidt is wildly disingenuous.

Some Democrats understand this and a growing number of them are joining Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in calling for either the abolition of or major reformation of ICE. While the support is late, as written at the beginning of this article, it's a sign that the Left is winning on this issue.

Immigrant Detention is an arm of Mass Incarceration

#AbolishICE isn't just about ending the separation of families at the border, what can't be lost in this discussion is how this is all ultimately about mass incarceration as well.

Prison Policy Initiative is a non-profit founded in 2001 to document and publicize how mass incarceration punishes our entire society. They've conducted extensive research for years about the inter-sectional relationship between criminal justice (or injustice as many call it) and immigration of which mass incarceration of undocumented families plays a critical role.

For instance, they published a report titled 'Fatal Neglect' in February of 2016 after working with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other organizations to examine 8 in-custody deaths between 2010 and 2012 due to ICE's egregious violations of its own medical standards

The study found that ICE inspections failed to hold detention centers accountable and that there persists a "culture of secrecy" within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to withhold information from the ACLU and similar civil rights/liberties organizations that could shed more light on what is going on. The report calls on ICE and DHS to implement four specific reforms such that increase transparency, oversight, and medical care to those being detained and those who have died while in ICE's custody.

To my knowledge, neither ICE nor DHS has complied with the demands made in this stunning report. But moderate Democrats want to be mealy-mouthed on this issue of abolishing ICE.

Another report was released July of 2016 titled 'Indefensible' which spans 181 pages and covers a decade of the history of mass incarceration of migrants prosecuted for crossing the border. America's immigration crisis under Trump was years in the making and spans several administrations.

Indefensible is a lengthy read detailing the evolution of Operation Streamline which started in 2005 under the Bush administration and was known for mass hearings involving up to 80 immigrants who would be found guilty en masse and sent to prison for years sometimes. Operation Streamline is mass incarceration in its ugliest of forms. The study details how nearly 25% of all inmates in the Federal Bureau of Prisons are non-citizens and that America spent nearly $7 billion between 2005 and 2015 housing these migrants in prisons.

The sheer growing numbers in the hundreds of thousands who have been criminalized for crossing the border should be shocking to most Americans. Perhaps not though, this is the same country that ignored (and still ignores) the massive system of incarceration of black people through drugs. So the mass incarceration of people who aren't even American is only just beginning to register for most Americans and that's only because Trump has somehow found a way to make a terrible system even worse than it was before.

Mass incarceration isn't just about the massive swelling of the prison system due to drug offenses. That certainly plays an overwhelming role, but it's also about the expanding immigrant incarceration boom which is a gift to the private prison industry because it exposes them to a whole new "market." 

It's a disgusting thing that we've allowed capitalism to become so entrenched and excessive that private prisons can have financial incentives to see mass incarceration continue. Often being tied to white supremacist zero-tolerance policies like the War on Drugs, broken windows, the school-to-prison pipeline, and now the indefinite detention of immigrants.

A Very Small List of Demands

It is time to abolish ICE, and you can take the entire system of mass incarceration with it. We must retake Congress so that legislation can be passed on a federal level. We must demand the end of Democratic support for "Blue Lives Matter" laws. We must demand more transparency and oversight into what goes on in prisons. We must demand a roadmap detailing the eventual release of all non-violent offenders. I understand to force the States to do this, we'd need Congressional legislation. One day the Democrats will have a majority in Congress and if that time comes with a Democrat in the White House, then our agenda must be clear. The list is quite long. Ultimately, we must call for the abolition of mass incarceration which is fueled both by the Drug War and the increasing threat of indefinite detention within American borders.

This is why Republicans are trying to bring back Jim Crow-era voter suppression. For them, they are prepared to sacrifice American democracy to maintain white supremacy. Democracy be damned if it means "the Blacks, Muslims, Women, Mexicans, and everyone else can't be controlled."

We are in a fight for democracy against right-wing tyranny. It is that real.  

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