Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is a government agency that terrorizes innocents, separates families and now drives people to suicide.
CBS News reports that the death of British immigrant Ben James Owen makes him the third person to commit suicide in ICE custody in the last four months. This follows the October suicide of Roylan Hernández Díaz, an asylum-seeker from Cuba and the December suicides of a French citizen and a Nigerian immigrant. In total, this brings the number of people who have died in ICE custody during the Trump administration to almost 30. This doesn’t include the seven children who have died in U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The facilities that ICE houses detainees in have come under scrutiny in recent months following a consistent pattern of death. Democrats have argued that the medical care in these facilities is inadequate and they have lobbied for asylum seekers who don’t pose threats to be able to fight their deportation without having to stay in one of these facilities.
ICE has stated that deaths in the facilities “are exceedingly rare and occur at a fraction of the national average for the U.S.” That is incredibly vague upon examination. What national average? The number of people who die per day? The number of people who die in custody? ICE isn’t supposed to be a punitive organization, and people shouldn’t be dying in their facilities, to begin with.
ICE has always been a shitty organization but under this administration, they’ve become truly monstrous. The Department of Homeland Security issued a report last June illustrating the horrific condition of these detainment facilities. Nooses, rotting food, sub-par health care were among the things found to endanger the health of detainees. Even ICE supervisors find the conditions abhorrent, as an internal memo sent to the now-head of ICE said “preventable harm and death to detainees has occurred,” and “IHSC leadership is not focused on preventing horrible recurrences.”
If we had decent, moral leadership this problem wouldn’t be happening, or at the very least, there would be hope that it could be resolved. We don’t have that, though. We’ve got white supremacists in charge and a chunk of the country who believe your humanity only counts if you’re an American. More people are going to die and I get the sickening feeling that that’s the whole point.