U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer says it’s time to scrap the broken system that is ICE.
The Oregon Democrat argued his case for shuttering U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in a seven-paragraph post on Medium.
“We’ve all experienced a phone app that’s not working properly, or a computer program that freezes the machine. What do you do? Lesson number one: shut it down,” he wrote.
The agency is at the center of a political firestorm sparked by the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration initiative. Last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered the prosecution of anyone caught crossing the southern border illegally, including asylum seekers. The policy called for separating parents and children, and detaining them in separate facilities.
The administration confirmed last week it had placed more than 2,300 migrant children in detention centers across the country while their parents and other adults were jailed. The detentions sparked protests across the country, including in Oregon, where an Occupy ICE protest in Portland is entering its second week.
Blumenauer was outraged after meeting with imprisoned immigrants June 16 at the federal prison in Sheridan. More than 120 have been detained since late May, and 26 days later they’re still waiting for their first consultations with immigration lawyers. Immigration and Customs Enforcement also is housing detainees in 14 other federal prisons around the country.
Many of the detainee are seeking asylum, claiming they face death threats and other dangers in their home countries. “It is outrageous that we are criminalizing being persecuted,” Blumenauer said.
The Trump administration contends talk of persecution is phony and has taken steps to make it more difficult to get asylum. Earlier this month, Sessions dropped asylum protections for victims of domestic abuse and gangs.
At least three other members of Congress have also come out for the abolishment of the agency, as have numerous immigrant rights groups.
“I voted against the formation of ICE in 2002 and have been concerned with the actions of the agency for quite some time,” Blumenauer wrote. “There is no turning back when agents of the federal government and our “‘commander-in-chief’ lose respect for humanity and treat people like animals.”
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