Immigrant and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have committed to aiding law enforcement responding to protests across the country. The demonstrators are protesting against the long-standing history of anti-Black racism and police brutality in the US, catalyzed by the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahumaud Arbery, Sean Reed, and Tony McDade.
George Floyd was killed on Monday, May 25 by a white police officer named Derek Chauvin. In a video, Chauvin was seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck while Floyd yelled “I can’t breathe.” On Tuesday, May 26, the video was spread on social media and protests began in Minneapolis, MN. Soon demonstrations were sparked in all fifty states. By Thursday, May 28, the Governor of Minnesota had sent the National Guard to Minneapolis. Over 5,600 people have been arrested during the protests nationwide. All four officers that participated in George Floyd’s death have been fired, but only Derek Chauvin has been arrested on charges of third-degree manslaughter and murder. The other three officers are under investigation.
The two Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agencies are sending personnel and resources to cities that continue to experience protests. Within DHS, ICE heads deportation while CBP is in control of border protections.
Both agencies have stated that their presence at protests will differ from their typical work. CBP said their involvement is “not about carrying out CBP’s immigration enforcement mission” while ICE limits enforcement at protests, “except when there is an imminent public safety or national security threat.” It is unclear how that threat is defined.
Despite the agency’s words, the threat of deportation remains. For DACA recipients, an arrest could mean losing their eligibility – potentially leading to deportation. For people with undocumented family members, an arrest could mean their loved one’s deportation. Due to a history of abuses and lack of accountability by these agencies, the presence of ICE and CBP could keep Latinx people home out of fear for their safety.
The use of deportation as a threat to silence Latinx voices has been a theme of the current administration. In 2018, the Commerce Department announced it would add a citizenship question to the Census. According to officials at the Census Beau, the addition of the question would result in an extreme undercount of minorities and therefore a lack of funding to minority communities. In July 2019, after a long legal battle and a Supreme Court ruling, the administration abandoned their quest and the question was not added. But when coupled with President Trump’s continued threat of ICE raids, the damage was already done – many Latinx people would not be counted due to fear of deportation.
Greisa Martínez Rosas is the deputy director of United We Dream, and a Dreamer. Martínez Rosas states: “There is no trust that this administration is not going to use every and any opportunity to detain and deport you….we’ve seen cases of DACA recipients that it really doesn’t matter what’s in your history. Once you come into contact with ICE and CBP, they’re moving forward with your deportation.”
Sources: LA Times 06/02, Roll Call 06/02, NY Times 06/03, The Hill 06/02, Washington Post 06/02, Associated Press 06/02