By Hairo Cortes, Chispa
Over the last year, a powerful backlash against President Donald Trump’s immigration policies has culminated in a demand to “Abolish ICE” altogether. That means scrapping Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an agency charged with carrying out deportations, as well as the system of laws that has redefined migration as a national security threat. As noted before in this column, it’s a system and a cycle of abuse and human rights violations that has existed since ICE’s inception. The difference is that, under Trump, it’s not something for the president to be ashamed of. It’s something to be broadcast to the world for all to see.
This is why we say “Abolish ICE.” Will the Democratic Party of Orange County say it with us?
Those of us who have been paying attention to ICE’s practices, and doing our best to organize against it for years understand that the system is rotten to the core. When we say “Abolish ICE,” it’s not a cheap, uninformed slogan. We say it with the weight of years’ worth of experience fighting to keep families and communities together. And we do so because there are now concentration camps along the southern border run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection that are the natural conclusion of this system’s trajectory.
Still, with conditions being what they are, there are “allies” who feel uncomfortable with the idea of dismantling an agency that has existed for less years than they’ve been alive, and who would rather compromise at some mythic middle-ground between family separation, concentration camps and basic human decency. We’ve seen this in the push back against the Abolish ICE campaign at all levels of the progressive movement and Democratic Party politics.
In response to bold organizing anchored in a vision for a better world in which human rights abuses against migrants are not the norm, we are often met with calls to reform ICE and the system. But a “kinder,” more marketable deportation machine is still grounded on a basic belief that some families deserve to be split apart, some communities deserve to be eradicated, and that immigrants constitute a threat.
Tonight, the question of abolishing ICE will be one of the items at the top of Democratic Party of Orange County’s agenda during a meeting of its Central Committee. The party’s governing body will consider a resolution to support the call for abolition.
Although it’s a purely symbolic exercise, it’s an important measurement of the degree to which the political institution that has branded itself as the ally of immigrants stands behind its rhetoric. It’s also an important question that the people who compose the Central Committee should have to answer.