...Below are some actionable steps we can take to advance immigrant rights and push back against unjust policies:
1. In order to save ourselves from repeating past mistakes or accepting the current status quo, let’s work towards a future rooted in collective understanding of how we got here.
We have to remember that before the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2002, there were no immigration police roaming the streets. The detention and deportation structure was not as built up as it is today. In other words, the calls to “abolish ICE,” or Immigration and Customs Enforcement, seem less radical when you remember that this agency didn’t even exist 20 years ago. Since its creation, ICE and its surveillance infrastructure have grown exponentially. The agency is now able to easily disappear immigrants from their homes, communities, and workplaces because of the terrible immigration laws passed in 1996. These laws criminalized immigrants by expanding the types of crimes for which immigrants could be deported, and made detention and deportation mandatory in many cases — laying the foundation for the current legal regime and enabling mass detention and deportation. The 1996 laws paved the way for the current infrastructure of immigration policing, detention, and deportation.
- For more, read the foreword and introduction to IDP and the Center for Constitutional Rights’ comprehensive guide and organizing toolkit on ICE raids, Defend Against ICE Raids and Community Arrests
- Check out Human Rights Watch’s piece reflecting on 20 years since the 1996 Immigration Reform
Read the full piece here.