My first order of business as director of ICE during Obama’s second-term cabinet is to immediately ban the use of “illegal” to refer to any undocumented person of any status in this country in any official and unofficial communication. ICE strongly believes that inhumane language debases our mission and should be immediately eradicated. By the same token, racist anti-immigration provisions that promote racial profiling and criminalize people just for living while “undocumented” — such as such as Alabama’s HB 56 and Arizona’s SB 1070 — will be rendered unconstitutional.
We will instantly turn to developing a comprehensive immigration reform that will adjust the status of the undocumented to “permanent residents” and that provides a realistic, feasible and affordable path to U.S. citizenship to all undocumented immigrants. The Dream Act will be immediately approved, without preconditions of military service or enrollment in an institution of higher learning.
Foremost, the new ICE is aware that people leave their countries out of economic need and desperation, and we will work closely with other branches of government to develop fair global economic policies that allow sustainable livelihoods for all. This includes fair-trade agreements that do not compete unfairly with rural and agricultural workers as did NAFTA and that do not decimate local industries. In particular, global corporations seeking to invest in the developing world will be required to provide living wages and safe working environments to workers. Additionally the new ICE is committed to avoiding future foreign invasions and interventions in the name of profit, capital and U.S. corporations in order to avoid generating more “harvests of empire,” as Juan Gonzalez terms immigrants.
Finally, our Border Enforcement Security will be retrained to help with the task of family reunification and status adjustment of immigrants, prioritizing the victims of the unprecedented number of deportations initiated under Obama’s first term. We estimate that after we achieve economic stability across the border the work of the Border Enforcement Security will become largely expendable.
Arlene Davila writes about Latino/Latin American contemporary issues and teaches anthropology and American Studies at New York University.