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What “Abolish ICE” Really Means

| August 4, 2019

abolish ice

Not the warmest acronym around these days. (ICE)

By Rachel Hodes

As I stepped inside the Cannon House Office Building on a Tuesday in July, I felt like I was taking a step towards a more just world. The night before, when I told my mother I planned to participate in a “Never Again” protest as part of #JewsAgainstICE, she had one question: “What exactly are their demands?”

That question was answered in the Cannon Building’s rotunda, as we chanted:


“Never again means close the camps.”

“Never again means abolish ICE.”

“Never again is now.”

To most of America, “abolish ICE” is a cry of the far left. Even Americans who dislike Trump’s attacks on undocumented immigrants wouldn’t necessarily tell you that ICE should be abolished; that seems far too radical.

They’re forgetting that ICE is actually pretty new. It was only created in 2003, replacing the Immigration and Naturalization Service (the same agency responsible for the internment of Japanese-Americans in the 1940s).

Since its creation, ICE’s budget has almost doubled, and its activity has expanded to triple the number of agents it employs. This expansion is shocking — and unwarranted. All evidence suggests that immigrants are far from the national security threat the Trump administration claims they are. Regardless of status, they’re more law-abiding than native-born citizens.

And time and time again, immigration has been shown to have a net-positive effect on the U.S. economy, from growing tax receipts to increasing wages for native-born residents. In fact, undocumented immigrants typically pay more of their income in taxes than your average millionaire.

other-wordsMore noteworthy than the economics, however, is that the individuals targeted by ICE are people — and all people are entitled to basic conditions of safety and for themselves and their families.

When the majority of these immigrants are fleeing violence with roots in U.S. intervention in Central America, the moral responsibility to offer safe haven becomes even more pressing. When government agencies neglect this responsibility, we all lose some of our humanity.

What calls to abolish ICE actually do is beg the question: Why do we need an immigration system dedicated solely to terrorizing immigrant communities?

Threats of ICE raids prevent undocumented people from going to work or sending their kids to school. Those in detention are denied access to basic hygienic products, subjected to severe overcrowding, and experience all manner of abuse. Several children have died.

We spend about $7 billion a year on ICE. What would happen if we instead invested those funds in resettling asylum-seekers, or hiring more staff to process asylum applications? What if families fleeing violence in Honduras or Guatemala had to wait only a few weeks to find out if they could immigrate legally, as opposed to the current average of almost two years?

The U.S. carried out over a quarter million deportations last year. The $7 billion that funded these actions could have been used instead to resettle at least that many refugees (over 11 times what the U.S. accepted last year). It could also almost triple the funding of the government office that naturalizes around 700,000 new citizens each year.

Which is more radical: Investing in communities that strengthen our country and honoring basic human decency? Or continuing to fund an agency that’s literally caused the death of children?

As a concerned Jewish American, I believe none of us are safe until we’re all safe. We should be focusing our resources on welcoming new immigrants and helping them access the rights of citizenship — not subjecting them to detention and deportation.

A better world, for immigrants and for everyone, is within our reach. ICE just isn’t a part of it.

Rachel Hodes is a Next Leader at the Institute for Policy Studies.


18 Responses for “What “Abolish ICE” Really Means”

  1. South Florida says:

    It’s best to leave ice in place and a lot of illegals aren’t found to be law on citizens. Leave it to the voters hopefully American citizens.

  2. capt says:

    The people that want to abolish ICE do not understand what is involved and the many departments of ICE>

    There is :
    ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO)
    ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
    The HSI’s Investigations Intelligence Office (HSI-Intel)
    The National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Coordination Center
    The National Security Investigations Division (NSID)

  3. Q'ed says:

    What part of legal vs. illegal immigration don’t you understand? Trump will get re-elected because of the ignorant propaganda that you promote. Thanks.

  4. Brandon Cross says:

    I am befuddled…?
    What are you proposing?
    It seems like you are saying we should have no borders? Ergo… anyone attempting entry in our country should be admitted without question.?
    PLEASE show me My Wrong Thought!!!!

  5. Willy Boy says:

    Is there no end to the number of people this country can sustain? Free everything for everyone is a pipe-dream.

  6. layla says:

    We are a nation of laws which are no longer being enforced. That should terrify all. ICE and the border patrol are the only federal agencies interested in protecting Americans right now. When they are gone and all laws are no longer enforced, we will become the same as those countries which these people are leaving. The role of ICE is to go after only those criminal aliens which are here. Come to America legally and you have nothing to fear. When we create a class of people who are immune to federal law, this country will collapse.

  7. kc says:

    I oppose illegal immigration. I do not oppose immigration. Immigrants, including my grandparents, helped make this country great.
    Lawbreakers do not.
    Instead of an article asking what Abolishing ICE means, how about asking what ILLEGAL means?

  8. CB from PC says:

    The author probably meant to say Illegals pay a GREATER portion in income taxes than millionaires, not more taxes.
    But how do Illegals file if they have no Social Security number?
    Clearly another BS article.

  9. Trailer Bob says:

    There IS a way to come into this county, as there is in every country. Jumping fences is not the way. So I guess I agree with the comments of the article about 90%.

  10. Traveling Rep says:

    One major flaw with this article, as with any other attempting to mount an anti ICE argument is that it makes no distinction whatsoever between illegal aliens and legal immigrants. Attempting to assert that “illegal aliens” are “more law abiding” than natural born Americans is a complete and utter fallacy. 100% of illegal aliens have broken the law, by definition. How laughable…

    Once again, if you come to our country legally by following the immigration procedures – you will be welcomed with open arms. However, if you cross our border illegally and expect us to turn a blind eye as you break our laws, you are wrong!

  11. The Realist says:

    “They’re more law abiding than native born citizens” Sorry no. They’ve broken federal law by skipping the immigration process and illegally entering the country. “typically pay more of their income in taxes” They don’t have social security numbers…they don’t pay income tax/ When leftists try to say they pay taxes…all they are talking about is the taxes they pay when they buy something at the store. They cant send their kids to our schools that they pay nothing for, they cant use our medical services that they pay nothing for…Keep it up ICE. Thank you for your service.

  12. B says:

    How about taking care of our own citizens first.

  13. Jane Gentile-Youd says:

    Am I missing something?

    Has the word ILLEGAL been removed from the dictionary? I welcome NOBODY who breaks the law into my home, nor my country. But its okay to put someone in jail for smoking God grown weed. I just don’t get it.

  14. larry krasner says:

    Undocumented alien is a democratic euphemism for illegal, started by Obama. And no one disputes most immigrants are law abiding. But the first thing an “undocumented” alien does is break the law by entering our country. Plus it only took 10 naughty people to take down the World Trade Center.

    • FlaglerLive says:

      The etymological origin of “Undocumented immigrant” goes back to the latter years of the 19th century, its etymological origins among our presidents can easily and repeatedly be traced back, say, to Ronald Reagan, an enthusiast of legalizing the undocumented (“We think that we, with compassion, are going to recognize the problem of those undocumented immigrants to our country who have been here for a number of years, who’ve established a base and a home and put down roots, and we’re going to legalize them”–Reagan TV interview in Texas, July 2, 1984; “This law offers protections for more than a million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, many of whom are from Mexico. It provides a means for them to find legal employment in our country and to participate openly and freely in our society,” radio address, Feb. 13, 1988). Words applied to undocumented or illegal immigration have their ideological hangups. We prefer to take the more accurate rather than ideological approach, since there’s no such thing, grammatically speaking, as an “illegal alien,” or an “illegal immigrant,” anymore than there is such a thing as an “illegitimate child.” The fact that an undocumented immigrant is referred to as such doesn’t place him more or less on the right side of the law, nor is it a euphemism, particularly when it attaches to children, who make up close to a fifth of the undocumented population and who can;t be blamed for the crossings, or the desperation, of their parents. You’re welcome to keep using words as you choose. But don’t impose your tyranny on us. We’ll stick with Reagan English.

  15. Richard says:

    Waiting to hear what “Sherry” has to say about this left wing rhetoric article demanding that we have open borders and let anyone and everyone into our country. How about using that $7 Billion dollars to help our American citizens FIRST versus wasting it on illegal aliens who busted in over our borders and those circumventing the legal system.

  16. Dave says:

    Shut ICE Down!! They are seeing distrust withing our communities and tearing apart families. People who may have needed up here illegally are kind peaceful people.

  17. Jim O says:

    Seems pretty clear to me that the people do NOT want open borders. No matter how you spin it.

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