#ImmigrationAndCustomsEnforcement #ICE #ViolentProtests #Editorial #OurVoice #MichaelHallisey #SpotlightNews
As we write this today, we still have the right to peaceably assemble, we still possess the freedom of speech. The oldest of our country’s laws remain as one of the strongest definitions of our democracy. It continues to be a shining inspiration for oppressed people who fight to change their own countries for the better.
In recent months, people have scrutinized over the practices of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The enforcement agency is a response to 9/11, established in 2003 under the Department of Homeland Security. It has served as an additional safety blanket. Whereas the United States Border Patrol is tasked with preventing undocumented immigrants from entering into the country, ICE takes that effort a step further. It investigates and ultimately facilitates the removal of illegal non-citizens from the country.
Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump made the topic of strengthening immigration laws and borders a part of his agenda before his election to office in 2016. A great deal of focus was placed on building a wall along our southern border shared with Mexico. And, in recent months, the his administration has established a “zero tolerance” on illegal immigrants with a policy that has separated more than 2,000 children from their families.
Trump also pushed for a ban on all Muslims during his campaigns, and followed through with an executive order. Though it is widely interpreted to be illegal to prevent people of specific origin or ethnicity from traveling into our country, his executive order was ultimately upheld by the United States Supreme Court, as it targets countries, not people.
Opponents have labeled the administration’s practices as xenophobic to racist. Though, supporters will point out similar acts by President Obama.
While in office, Obama earned the nickname “Deporter-in-Chief.” The moniker, a play on the president’s Commander-in-Chief role as head of the armed forces, was earned after a record 2.4 million immigrants were deported between 2009 and 2016. Obama, too, had ordered a similar travel ban in 2011; however, that was in response to a specific threat from Iraqi nationals living in Bowling Green, Ky. Trump’s proposed ban did not follow an apparent threat to the country. Nonetheless, the act of separating children from their parents has drawn strong criticism from both sides of the aisle. The practice has since been curtailed.
The images of these children have remained in the circulation of national news coverage as the task of reuniting these families becomes reportedly more daunting. There are also reports of Border Patrol agents establishing checkpoints within 100 miles of our U.S. border, searching and verifying citizenship along our roadways.
The 100-mile buffer zone is supposedly within the enforcement agency’s jurisdiction, but there is the question as to whether or not it has the right to conduct such searches without probable cause. There is the matter of the Fourth Amendment of the United States, which protects citizens from random stops and searches. The American Civil Liberties Union is not considering this a trivial moment. It has recently established a page within its website to address these concerns. This scenario doesn’t play out exclusively along what is perceived to be the MS-13 infested border to the south. The ACLU points out that two out of three Americans live within this 100-mile buffer zone. CNN and the New York Times each published articles on such checkpoints in both New Hampshire and Maine last month, states closest to the benign Canadian border.
Democrats and liberals have called for the abolition of ICE. Protests have gathered in pockets throughout the country, including two dozen local residents who gathered last week before the federal Homeland Security building in Colonie. Those who spoke with our reporter, Jim Franco, voiced their disdain as the enforcement agency raids local farms and gathers at area courthouses to detain illegal immigrants. One such protestor said, ““It is acting to terrorize people.” The protest later escalated into acts of vandalism, with at least one writing his message to disband ICE on the building’s facade.
Plausible threats to our country and our people need to be addressed. Shortly after 9/11, our ability to defend ourselves against small, organized individuals with the training and resources to cause destructive havoc was in serious question. The climate of fear and weariness has never abated since the Twin Towers crumbled down nearly two decades ago. However, fear has also seemed to be used as a tool wielded by some more than others to garner support. That is something to be concerned over.
We live in divisive times where there is no longer a middle ground between political stances. Describing one’s self as conservative or liberal has created the potential for each to wear a scarlet letter upon his chest, open to ridicule and mocking at an unprecedented level. It’s akin to baseball fans who wear a rival team’s jersey. Regardless of the person, his education or civility, insults, barbs and fists are thrown at haste. The political realm is not a game. There should never be a devotion to the Democrat or Republican party. We, as citizens, do not pledge allegiance to a donkey or elephant. Party agendas change. Blind faith into a particular party, or person, leads us down a dangerous road. Our democracy demands we question our leadership and hold it accountable for its actions.
As for our own actions, as we protest, we need to do so without violence or destruction. Those acts only overshadow the message we try to convey. That message, as righteous as it may be, falls to deaf ears the moment we turn to violence. It only casts a shadow upon the light we try to shine out onto the world. Otherwise, a poor example of what this country once stood for.
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.