In one example, ICE last week pushed through the cruel deportation flights of a number of Black asylum-seekers even though Biden’s executive order rescinding the previous administration’s ICE guidelines (which made just about all undocumented immigrants a priority for deportation) wasn’t affected by a Texas judge’s hold on the 100-day deportation moratorium. Additionally, law experts have said the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has “significant legal authority” to exercise prosecutorial discretion on individual cases.
Yet ICE cruelly continued pushing through on the flights anyway. But in a major victory late last week, advocates led by Haitian Bridge Alliance and UndocuBlack Network, with help from Maryland U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen’s office, won a stop on deportation flights to Haiti, following “a night of frantic calls from community activists and congressional staffers to the office of the newly confirmed secretary of homeland security, Alejandro Mayorkas,” The Guardian reported.
“They were running two flights in a day in their hurry to deport as many people as possible,” Haitian Bridge Alliance Co-founder Guerline Jozef told The Guardian. She said she hadn’t slept in nearly 100 hours. “We had babies as young as four or five months old. We were so disturbed that we were determined that for now, those people will be protected.”
The Guardian report said that among the flights also stopped last week was one deporting a number of asylum-seekers who could be witnesses in horrific allegations of torture by agents. “The complaint describes the coercive tactics, including threats of violence and direct physical abuse to obtain submission, forced taking of fingerprints while individuals are in restraint, and the use of pepper spray against those who decline to sign their deportation papers,” advocacy groups said in a complaint last year.
But plainly speaking, the success of Biden’s changes hinge on how how hard he’ll come down on ICE’s ass if it ignores his new priorities and policies. Indeed, The New York Times reported in the last couple days that agents beholden to the previous president are all set to tell Biden to take a hike. Then in The Washington Post’s report, a “distraught” official basically cried about Biden trying to maker it harder for them to deport someone. The report in fact disturbingly focuses on the feelings of mass deportation agents instead of the people they’ve been terrorizing for years.
“They’ve abolished ICE without abolishing ICE,” the anonymous official claimed to the Post. Oh, if only, buddy. “The pendulum swing is so extreme,” the official continued. “It literally feels like we’ve gone from the ability to fully enforce our immigration laws to now being told to enforce nothing.”
Of course, none of that is true. What the anonymous official is really upset about is ICE possibly no longer being allowed to do whatever the fuck it wants. ICE is upset about the possibility of facing consequences of its despicable actions. It’s upset about being constrained in deporting human beings back to danger. Biden has taken a major step, but he must ensure its followed. “You understand that if regular law enforcement acted like @ICEgov, every single US Citizen would be in jail right?” tweeted immigration attorney Charles Kuck. “Not putting the brakes on an out-of-control agency like ICE is tantamount to Presidential Malpractice.”