AFSC has joined with activists across the country in calling for the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – and we hope you will join us. Immigration activists have been working for years to bring attention to ICE’s abuses, racism, and terror. And now Trump’s embrace of white nationalism and inhumane policies across the board – including his cruel family separation and family detention policies – are opening our country’s eyes to the abuses that are rampant in our immigration enforcement system.
With the public’s attention now focused on this issue we have an opportunity to unite around the idea that all people should be treated humanely. Abolishing ICE is a first step on that path.
Here are some principles to keep in mind when talking about the movement to abolish ICE:
1. There is no immigration crisis – and immigration is not a crisis.
For families who are arriving and seeking haven here, the crisis is back home in places like Central America where people are fleeing life-threatening violence and poverty, often perpetrated by the U.S. And the inhumane detention and deportation of desperate people leaves us with a moral crisis.
But the fact is, border crossings are at all-time lows, and people who live near the border confirm that there is no immigration crisis. Talking about immigration as if it is a problem only feeds support for punitive enforcement - so avoid talking about immigration as though it’s a crisis.
2. There is no non-racist rationale for ICE.
ICE operates from the principle that immigrants are threatening simply because of where they were born. But coming from somewhere else doesn’t make a person dangerous. And being undocumented is not a moral failing, it is the result of outdated immigration laws, U.S. foreign policy, and history.
Treating immigration as primarily a national security issue has had devastating effects on our communities, and has given cover to an alarming white supremacist vision of America. Putting people in cages and exiling them from their homes makes nobody safer.
3. Abolishing ICE is not divisive – our immigration policies are.
We want an immigration system that is humane and treats all people with dignity. We want to create communities where everybody can thrive and families aren’t torn apart. That means we need to create a roadmap to citizenship for all members of our communities. And we need to stop local law enforcement from helping ICE round up and detain our community members.
4. Migration is beautiful and diversity is strength.
Even as we defend against alarming policy changes taking place, we should remember to advance a positive vision of the world we seek to create. Immigrants are people who move to make a better life for themselves and their families. Welcoming immigrants and keeping families together strengthens our communities.