Once perceived as those fairly friendly border guards at obscure crossings with Mexico and Canada, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is now getting a military makeover turning it from Andy Griffith’s sheriff’s department into a law enforcement agency that would please Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry – on steroids,
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Whether this growing force of disciplined, armed agents could ever serve Trump as a palace guard personal police force is a question to ponder – but for now, it’s important to note that ICE is being grown, increased, resupplied and militarized as never before, as if Trump wants to ramp up for to some terrible new conflict, or the next Civil War.
That was what someone who should know told the multi-media news outlet, The Young Turks:
“Sounds like they’re getting ready for war,” a retired ICE agent, Rob Uribe Álvarez, told The Young Turks.
There are two parts of ICE, which falls under the Department of Homeland Security. One is the in Enforcement and Removal Operations, while the other is the investigations, which could be the unit trained to handle “terrorist suspects” under new leadership.
TYT previously reported that ICE had retained a former CIA interrogator to train agents in handling “terrorist suspects.”
Now with bigger funding, and a job guarding Trump’s new wall, if it ever gets built, ICE is, according to The Young Turks “quietly training its deportation officers in the use of weapons more familiar to the U.S. military than to domestic law enforcement, federal records show.”
Once just a border agent, today ICE can be found on highways miles from the border checking identities, at airports or be serving at one of the mushrooming numbers of mass detention centers that already hold not 2,000 but close to 10,000 children taken from their parents or accompanying adult.
“The agency’s Enforcement and Removal Officers are being trained in the use of M4 assault rifles, chemical agents, stun grenades, and flashbangs, according to federal procurement records reviewed by TYT.”
“The M4 assault rifle is used extensively by the armed forces and has been the primary service weapon for the U.S. Marine Corps.”
ICE recently signed a $15 million dollar contract with Colt to provide 8,000 more guns and maintain the weapons.
Today, ICE has 5,000 M4 rifles in service and with the 8,000 more M4’s, under federal procurement procedures, they will have 13,000 of the powerful weapons that cost almost $1,000 each.
The question is what the ICE officers need such a powerful gun for?
Certainly, it is far more than is needed to herd unarmed immigrants, or even handle the occasional incident.
The Young Turks asked a former deputy assistant secretary at DHS, who is said to have “bristled at the notion that ICE’s deportation officers need those kinds of weaponry.”
The former DHS employee added that “Most immigration violations are not a violation of federal law, they’re just misdemeanors.”
Turning those officers into soldiers in the war on terrorism, crime and whatever else gets budget appropriations passed, makes them much scarier, fearsome figures, especially for the undocumented aliens they often round up, detain, process and imprison.
President Obama warned us about this in 2015 shortly after he convened a special commission to look at how the militarization of local police was creating explosive separation between police and the community.
The main incident that sparked concern was the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown which led to riots in Ferguson, Missouri, where local police showed up in paramilitary camouflage with military gear.
That led to a series of large, angry street protests, and Obama appointed a panel.
President Obama said, “We’ve seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people the feeling like there’s an occupying force – as opposed to a force that’s part of the community that’s protecting them and serving them.”
The president added that such gear “can alienate and intimidate residents and make them feel scared.”
An “occupying force” that instills fear in the local citizenry sounds like a formula for an authoritarian regime that would tell us how they needed to protect us by taking away our constitutional rights – until we figure out we may need to be protected from them.