America’s law enforcement agencies are notorious for their casual cruelty and general disregard for the rights, well-being, and lives of people of color, but few have taken to their work with such sadistic enthusiasm as the Immigration and Customs Enforcement does.
With a clear mandate from the white supremacists in the White House and Justice Department to terrorize and abuse people of color, the stories of ICE’s behavior in the Trump era are downright shocking.
The intrepid reporters at the Intercept have discovered that ICE officers have been torturing inmates to punish them for refusing to comply with their “voluntary” labor program – labor for which the inmates are paid just enough for it to not fall under the definition of slavery.
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Bangladeshi immigrant Shoaib Ahmed, 24, told the Intercept that he was thrown into solitary confinement for 10 days for daring to tell another inmate that “no work tomorrow” – and he’s not the only one.
Late last month, ICE detainees at a CoreCivic-run facility in California sued the private prison contractor, alleging that they had been threatened with solitary confinement if they did not work. In October, The Intercept reported that officials had placed another detainee in solitary confinement for 30 days for “encouraging others to participate in a work stoppage” at the same privately run facility where Ahmed was disciplined, the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia.
While the CoreCivic – formerly known as the Corrections Corporation of America – complains that their use of solitary confinement is “humane” and gives a misleading representation of what they refer to as “restricted housing,” accounts by the inmates tell a very different story.
“The room is at all times locked,” Ahmed said. “If you talk, the sound does not go outside. And nobody comes to talk with us.”
“Sometimes I think I will be mentally sick,” Ahmed said of his time in isolation. “I feel pain in my head.”
Ahmed said that because no one outside his room could hear him talk at a regular volume, his only opportunity for human interaction would often be to shout out, though he was prohibited from raising his voice — an infraction that would only cause his sentence in isolation to be extended. “Sometimes I think my head is not working, and I think I want to loudly call them: ‘Release me. Please, take me to some open site,’” Ahmed recalled. “Sometimes I think the segregation will kill me.”
It’s clear that these conditions are nowhere near “humane” and it is beyond appalling that human beings who have committed no crimes beyond having the misfortune to be born within the wrong arbitrary divisions drawn on a map are being treated in such fashion.
Private prisons and detention centers, once on the way out thanks to President Obama’s planned phase outs, have been given a fresh breath of life under the Trump administration.
Under the bloated, translucent jowls of Secretary Thomas Homan, ICE is embracing its fundamental directive as an agency of soft ethnic cleansing and an enforcer of white supremacy, exploiting vulnerable undocumented innocents for their labor power while collecting millions in dollars from the government for the privilege of maintaining concentration camps.
As cross-border immigration slows to a halt, ICE is shifting to hunting down undocumented people already living in the United States with an unholy zeal. The stories of their excess, largely ignored by the mainstream media and the general public, are terrifying to behold.
- Homan has called for the politicians in “sanctuary cities” to be arrested and prosecuted for protecting immigrants.
- This past winter, ICE agents kept 92 Somali immigrants chained on an airplane for 46 hours in “slave ship” conditions, giving them little food and water and forcing them to urinate on themselves.
- Separating mothers from their children is a tactic commonly used by ICE to “discourage” immigration.
- ICE kept open their immigration checkpoints during the onset of Hurricane Harvey, forcing migrants to choose between death by hurricane or possible deportation. They then abandoned 50 people at a closed bus station in the path of the hurricane.
- ICE arrested a ten-year-old girl with cerebral palsy and sent her to a detention center after major surgery.
- ICE staked out a church’s homeless center and arrested undocumented migrants after they emerged from safety.
- Detainees are subjected to widespread abuse and sexual assault by ICE agents, the evidence of which they destroy.
ICE has begun openly behaving like the secret police of an ethnostate’s autocratic regime rather than a border security and customs unit. Beloved dissident Chelsea Manning dubbed the organization the “new Gestapo” – and judging from endless tales of horrifying behavior by America’s cruellest, dumbest collection of jackbooted, badge-jerking thugs who get a high off of pointing automatic weapons in the faces of children, she’s not far off the mark.
h/t to Spencer Woodman @ the Intercept