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The Current Immigration and Customs Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Mar 1st, 2022

Introduction

Immigration has always been the backbone of American history and the country’s rich cultural and ethnic diversity. However, in the modern age, immigration has shifted in nature due to globalization, crises around the world, and, most importantly, national security. Immigration has become a controversial topic, not only politicized but, in some cases, creating a threat to national security. It has led to stringent immigration policies in recent years, which defer legal immigration beneficial to the country but also unfairly target some elements of illegal immigration as criminal, resulting in a potential humanitarian crisis.

Government Agencies

Immigration in the U.S. is overseen by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its various agencies. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) oversees legal immigration-related services, such as visas, work authorization, and naturalization. Meanwhile, U.S. Immigration and Customers Enforcement (ICE) acts as a national security apparatus, targeting criminal networks and terrorist organizations that may be using vulnerabilities in the American immigration system for nefarious purposes. ICE was formed after 9/11 as part of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (White et al., 2010).

Radicalization of ICE

Under the Trump administration, anti-immigration enforcement and ICE began to shift radically, which many scholars and pundits consider as radicalization. Trump’s rhetoric and messaging have focused on an anti-immigration stance, which at times bordered on racism. President Obama’s administration and most previous administrations of either party have focused on creating a hierarchical set of priorities. Although Obama’s administration did deport more than any other administration previously, enforcement by ICE was focused on people who posed a threat to national security or had serious criminal intent or convictions. Other unauthorized immigrants, although being investigated, usually did not face scrutiny and had some leniency towards remaining in the United States. In his first week in office, Trump issued an executive order which changed the policy towards targeting virtually unauthorized immigrants in the United States regardless of their length of residence, social ties, contributions, or otherwise positive factors. As a result, ICE encounters increased dramatically, with 381,370 arrests and 650,944 removals up to September 2018 (Ryo, 2019).

There are several issues to this approach even if technically ICE is fulfilling its obligation as an agency. First, the policy does not consider the status of immigrants, which has put thousands of immigrants, such as refugees, children of immigrants, and other hard-working and law-abiding aliens at risk of deportation. Some of them are placed in potential danger by being forced to return to their country of origin. The INA gives leniency to judges regarding deportation, and ICE has operated with the prerogative that innocent immigrants are not a danger. Many illegal aliens had to report to ICE on a periodic basis and maintain a job and avoid criminal convictions but were allowed to maintain residency, and, suddenly, it has changed (Foer, 2018).

The second issue is the tactics that ICE is not utilizing to enforce its policies. Trump essentially labels all illegal aliens as criminals in his rhetoric. ICE has been employing certain tactics that many consider as mistreatment and a violation of human rights. It includes heavy door-to-door policing, search, and seizures with the full use of force against non-criminal immigrants. ICE has expanded its network of detention centers where immigrants are kept prior to deportation, these have been criticized for creating inhumane conditions without offering immigrants access to communication or lawyers. Finally, there is the inhumane practice of separating children from parents, with children also being detained and deported, which has received significant media attention (Foer, 2018).

Conclusion

The ICE immigration agenda under Trump has become ruthless and violating principles of justice, setting dangerous precedents and condemning the rich immigration-based foundation of America’s prosperity. ICE will always be perceived negatively in public due to the nature of its work, but the key to the agency’s operation has always been to protect the U.S. from threats. Now, using his executive power, Trump has radicalized the agency to becoming a persecutory and policing force, ultimately fulfilling his own agenda more than necessary for national security.

References

Foer, F. (2018). The Atlantic. Web.

Ryo, E. (2019). The Conversation. Web.

White, R., Markowski, T., & Collins, K. (2010). The United States Department of Homeland Security: An overview (2nd ed.). Pearson Learning Solutions.

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