ICE Agents are whining about being called Nazis, say they're doing their job
Blissfully unaware that they are drowning in their own irony, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are complaining that people are comparing them to Nazis.
In Immigration Nation, a new Netflix docuseries, filmmakers Shaul Schwarz and Christina Clusiau chronicle their three years of work following the activities of the Department of Homeland Security, including ICE and Border Patrol.
As Chantal Da Silva writes in Newsweek:
In the new series, previewed ahead of its release by Newsweek, ICE agents speak candidly about their orders to ramp up arrests of undocumented immigrants, with one scene showing an agency supervisor in New York ordering an agent to bring in more "collaterals"—undocumented immigrants identified during a targeted arrest—whatever it takes.
To be fair, it's important to remember that these agents are people. And to be clear, it's necessary to have immigration laws and control over who enters the United States. And as Da Silva writes in her piece on Newsweek, there are some agents who seem conflicted about their new role since Trump became president:
"It's like... too much," one agent in New York told filmmakers, describing how ICE agents had gone from arresting less than eight people in a week under the Obama administration to making more than eight arrests in a single day under Trump.
"It's like the floodgates opened and no one's used to this," the agent said.
"It's not like, 'okay, we went back to the way we were. We were never like this," they said. "It's a different world."
There are two schools of thought here. On the one hand, a decent person could try to be part of the change you want to see within the agency. On the other, a decent person would realize that they do not want to be associated with the actions of the agency and resign. But by resigning, you're allowing the behavior to continue unabated.
Then there are agents like this one:
Another agent complained of being seen as "the bad guys" in society.
"We constantly look like we're the bad guys, when all we're doing is enforcing the laws and doing our job," the agent says.
"It gets to me sometimes, it does," she says. "Cause, I just feel like, you know, we have no respect."
Respect isn't given, it's earned. And when your agency becomes infamous for terrorizing families and separating children from their parents, I'm not sure what you expect to happen.
Another agent shares in those sentiments, acknowledging that "ICE isn't a fan favorite of anybody's. Words like 'Nazis'. 'How can you do this'."
"We're used to it and, I mean, I love my job. I do," he says. 'I have a good stable home. I make money."
Hitting out at criticisms that have, for years, compared ICE agents to Nazis, the agent said: "To be called a Nazi, you know, a racist, you know, it's just ignorant. It's ignorant."
"We don't pick and choose groups of people based on race, color, religion. We just look for people who are removable," he says.
I find it interesting that he said he loves his job, and his first reason for loving his job is that he has a good, stable home and makes money. That says so much while saying so little. He didn't talk about the importance of border security, trying to end human trafficking, finding and arresting violent offenders, or even the generic "serve and protect" mantra. Instead, the most important thing for him is himself and his family. It's very telling.
Another agent expressed sorrow in performing arrests that see families separated, with footage in Immigration Nation showing one father being arrested in front of his daughter.
"It gets sensitive when the kids are involved," the agent says. "I'm a dad. It's tough when the kids are involved. Nobody wants to see children hurt. Sometimes it happens. It's not very nice, but that's the law."
Schwarz (one of the two filmmakers) told Newsweek that he believes our immigration system "is somewhat broken or deliberately...broken, but again, there's a lot of grey areas."
I, for one, have lost count how many times Trump has attempted to implement a travel ban from countries whose populations are predominantly not white. I've also lost count how many times the Trump administration has tried to end the DACA program. There's no doubt the system is intentionally broken, and intentionally made to be as difficult, as well as traumatic, as possible.
Schwarz said that he did not believe that all officers were "horrible" or "evil" people.
"I think when it comes to ICE, trying to leave some of these pretexts behind, a lot of people are like, 'oh, they're just horrible'. I don't think that's the ICE officers we actually met, for the mostpart," he said.
Like any law enforcement agency, he said, "you will have good cops and bad cops."
I agree with this sentiment.
Law enforcement plays a necessary role in any organized society. There will always be bad actors and those who seek to take advantage of others. But a "good cop" who doesn't call out a "bad cop" for bad behavior is not actually a "good cop" in the first place.
Read the full article on Newsweek.