A longtime Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent is speaking out. “We’re going to get sued. You have guys who are doing whatever they want in the field, going after whoever they want,” the anonymous agent told the New Yorker’s Jonathan Blitzer, with whom he began communicating two months after Trump’s inauguration.
The agent said he has seen a notable change in his colleagues’ treatment of immigrants, largely spurred by Trump’s directives to deport as many undocumented immigrants as possible. In February, ICE’s Enforcement and Removal officers were instructed to target “all removable aliens” they encountered in the field, as opposed to only going after immigrants with criminal records. “We used to look at things through the totality of the circumstances when it came to a removal order — that’s out the window,” the agent told the New Yorker. During a recent meeting, the agent said, a superior claimed this was the “most exciting time to be a part of ICE” in the agency’s history.
He worries about the burden a surge in immigration arrests will place not only on families, but on detention centers and courts that can’t handle the staggering backlog of immigration cases, which is currently at half a million and growing.
The officer’s main qualms are Trump-era policies that allow agents to target children and their families, including a new policy that encourages agents to investigate cases of immigrants who could have paid smugglers, colloquially known as coyotes, to bring their children into the country. The agency claims these parents are guilty of placing children “directly in harm’s way,” but the officer told the magazine that it was just another way of arresting and deporting more people. Another policy focuses on detaining young immigrants who entered the U.S. as children and recently turned 18.