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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

The battle over ICE

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SOCIAL: The Trump administration’s ICE raids, family separation policy, human rights violations in detention centers, and contracting to private prisons are issues that violate human rights and many believe are anti-American. The “Abolish ICE” movement grew after reports of children being separated from their families at the U.S. Mexico border. [PBS News Hour] 


POLITICS: The “Abolish ICE” social movement is forcing leaders in each political party to address these problems with the federal agency.


Public opinion

  • A majority of Americans, 54%, want to keep ICE. [Politico]

  • A minority, 25%, want to get rid of ICE.


  • Customs and Border Protection was responsible for separating families at the border, not ICE. [Quartz]

  • ICE deports unauthorized immigrants within the country; the agency does not patrol the border. [U.S. Customs and Border Protection]

ICE under specific presidents

President Obama

ICE prioritized deporting undocumented immigrants with violent criminal histories. [NPR]


President Trump

ICE is directed to “find, arrest and deport those in the country illegally, regardless of whether they have committed serious crimes.” [The New York Times] Under the Trump administration, ICE arrests are up 42%. [PBS News Hour]


Elected officials want to abolish ICE

  • 43% of Democratic voters want to see ICE gone. [Politico]

  • The list of notable Democrats who want to abolish ICE continues to grow.

Private corruption?

Private prisons (corporations) profit from imprisoning people. 

ICE doesn’t comply with its own standards

  • The Inspector General found “14,003 deficiencies...These deficiencies ...jeopardize the safety and rights of detainees, such as failing to notify ICE about sexual assaults and failing to forward allegations regarding the misconduct of facility staff to ICE ERO. Despite these identified deficiencies, ICE only imposed financial penalties twice.” [The Office of Inspector General]

  • Immigrants detained by ICE work for $1 a day, violating anti-slavery laws. [The Washington Post]


  • July 2019: The New York Times reported the Trump administration has directed ICE to begin raids in specific cities targeting over 2,000 individuals. [The New York Times]

  • Targeted cities include Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Baltimore, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York City, and San Fransisco. [TIME]

  • July 6, 2020: ICE announced a new policy, that foreign students must leave the U.S. if their school’s classes this fall will be online or they must transfer to another school with in-person instruction. [Reuters]

  • July 8, 2020: Harvard University and Massachusettes (MIT) filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for the policy. [The New York Times]

  • July 14, 2020: The Trump administration rescinds its policy on international students and online classes. [Bloomberg]


  • Read an opinion about why the Democrats are shifting on the issue of immigration.

  • Read more about claims of rampant sexual assault in ICE detention centers. [The Intercept]

  • Should we keep ICE, reform ICE, or abolish ICE?


Estimated deportation and enforcement cost of removing all illegal aliens from the United States as of 2015, by type of cost (in billion U.S. dollars):

screen shot 2019 04 22 at 12 31 52 pmStatista

This statistic shows the estimated costs associated with deporting all illegal aliens in the United States, as of 2015. The lower estimate for the total cost of deportation of illegal aliens in the U.S. was 103.9 billion U.S. dollars as of 2015.

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