LatinaLista — The Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE Department of Homeland Security has a lot of job responsibilities. According to their web site:
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is responsible for eliminating vulnerabilities in the nation’s border, and with economic, transportation and infrastructure security.
The ICE organization is composed of four law enforcement divisions and several support divisions. These divisions of ICE combine to form a new investigative approach with new resources to provide unparalleled investigation, interdiction and security services to the public and our law enforcement partners in the federal and local sectors.
However, they are best known for their raid sweeps where they either make dawn visits on unsuspecting families or roll in on buses for massive apprehensions like the one in Postville, Iowa.
To those of us who catch the images as we channel surf or scan the day’s headlines, the real stories are never seen or heard because the news is so carefully controlled by ICE officials — and that has been the problem.
ICE or the Department of Homeland Security releases news of undocumented immigrants in such a biased way that, of course, there would be an unanimous chorus to deport these people. The number one accusation levied against undocumented workers caught up in work site raids is that they stole someone’s Social Security number, in essence, their identity.
ICE officials purposely leave us with the impression that these workers do it in a malicious and purposeful manner so they can achieve their American Dream and wreak havoc on hard-working, patriotic citizens.
Well, now there finally comes an eyewitness account on how ICE conducts business which should leave us all shivering about the direction of this country, its commitment to human rights and the overshadowing role partisan politics plays in persecuting a group of people who thought that all they needed to get by in this country was hard work.
In an eye-opening essay posted by Duke of Migra Matters at the site The Sanctuary (of which Latina Lista is a founding member), Dr. Erik Camayd-Freixas, Ph.D. of Florida International University recounts his experience as one of 26 federally certified interpreters flown into Postville, Iowa to assist with translating for the 390 Spanish-speaking detainees during one of the biggest immigration sweeps in the nation.
His account is astonishing because, as a layperson with knowledge of how the legal system works, from his 23 years as a federally certified interpreter, he cuts through the legalese to expose exactly what ICE is doing to these people.
Apprehending people who are in the country illegally is one thing but to corner these same people to force them into criminalizing themselves so that it can be publicized that these people are a threat to national security is beneath the integrity of this country.
Dr. Camayd-Freixas found that the whole issue of using false Social Security numbers for these people was a non-issue since a lot of them didn’t understand what a Social Security number was or its purpose, since all the paperwork was filled out by plant officials.
As Dr. Camayd-Freixas noted:
…To an impartial and informed layperson, the process resembled a lottery of justice: if the Social Security number belonged to someone else, you were charged with identity theft and went to jail; if by luck it was a vacant number, you would get only Social Security fraud and were released for deportation.
In this manner, out of 297 who were charged on time, 270 went to jail. Bothered by the arbitrariness of that heavier charge, I went back to the ICE Search Warrant Application (pp. 35-36), and what I found was astonishing. On February 20, 2008, ICE agents received social security ‘no match’ information for 737 employees, including 147 using numbers confirmed by the SSA as invalid (never issued to a person) and 590 using valid SSNs, “however the numbers did not match the name of the employee reported by Agriprocessors…This analysis would not account for the possibility that a person may have falsely used the identity of an actual person’s name and SSN.
In my training and expertise, I know it is not uncommon for aliens to purchase identity documents which include SSNs that match the name assigned to the number. Yet, ICE agents checked Accurint, the powerful identity database used by law enforcement, and found that 983 employees that year had non-matching SSNs. Then they conducted a search of the FTC Consumer Sentinel Network for reporting incidents of identity theft.
The search revealed that a person who was assigned one of the social security numbers used by an employee of Agriprocessors has reported his/her identity being stolen. That is, out of 983 only 1 number (0.1%) happened to coincide by chance with a reported identity theft. The charge was clearly unfounded; and the raid, a fishing expedition.
On April 16, 2008, the US filed criminal complaints against 697 employees, charging them with unlawfully using SSNs in violation of Title 42 USC Â§408(a)(7)(B); aggravated identity theft in violation of 18 USC Â§1028A(a)(1); and/or possession or use of false identity documents for purposes of employment in violation of 18 USC Â§1546.
ICE’s reckless regard for the law and human rights doesn’t end there. In a new video posted by American News Projects, we hear, in their own voices, the frightening experiences of Latinos caught up in these immigration raids.
There has been a historical acceptance in this country that government departments, like ICE, FBI, CIA, etc. are above reproach because they are operating within the parameters of keeping this country safe. In contrast, we have always criticized similar behavior, that ICE exhibits, and performed by other countries’ enforcement agencies like the KGB or the Chilean Secret Police, etc. as being undemocratic and inhumane.
Yet, we find ourselves faced with an agency that refuses transparency, to be held accountable for their actions, railroading the criminal justice system to validate their tactics and causing emotional and physical abuse on citizens of another country who are not criminals in this country.
This is perhaps the biggest story happening within this country but the media is so distracted by the presidential election that they are not seeing it. News is that The New York Times has taken notice and plans to run an expose later this week on ICE’s actions and interview Dr. Camayd-Freixas, but more media should be focused on this travesty.
It’s time we all saw it and demanded the answers we are entitled to.
In fact, isn’t it our patriotic duty to pull the reigns on an agency that obviously feels it can create its own laws to justify their own ends.