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The Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, better known as ICE, has a long history of abusing its power. The U.S government sanction department has been terrorizing people along the southern border for decades. Throughout the Trump presidency, the department has found itself at the forefront of a racist, anti-immigrant movement being pushed by the far right. In the eyes of many Americans, ICE was the only way to keep our borders safe from “criminals.” It would seem that this particular government agency has taken its role beyond what it was originally intended to be. ICE in recent years has become an agency obsessed with prying into the lives of millions of Americans with the justification of finding a select few breaking the law.  

ICE has gathered the personal information of millions of Americans, regardless of their immigration status. A report published citing hundreds of Freedom of Information acts shows that ICE has driver’s license data for three in four adults living in the U.S. They have scanned at least one in three of all adults’ driver’s licenses with face recognition technology. They can also track the movement of vehicles in cities that are home to nearly three in four adults; and can locate three in four adults through their utility records. Even in states like California where legislation has been passed to protect utility information from immigration officials, ICE managed to weasel its way around the law. Despite efforts from California lawmakers to protect immigrants in the state, it’s been reported that ICE has access to more than half of California’s residents’ utility information. For a state that considers itself a “sanctuary state”, these numbers are very disappointing. 

The government agency has reportedly spent 2.8 billion dollars on surveillance, data collection and data-sharing incentives between the years of 2008 and 2021. The fact that these government agencies are allowed to spend taxpayer money to gather the personal information of millions of Americans is preposterous. Especially when you consider how much the Republican party backs ICE, the party notoriously known to criticize when taxpayer money is misused. ICE has embarked on a modern day witch hunt for immigrants across the country. In doing so, they have completely disregarded laws and protections that have been put in place by lawmakers to protect the rights of immigrants. 

The agency, which was originally formed as a result of the Sept.11 attacks and to protect the country from terrorist attacks, has taken a much darker form. The border agency has long surpassed its work along our U.S. borders making their presence known in several cities across the country. You wouldn’t expect to see a TSA agent outside your local grocery store, and the same should be said for ICE agents. Yet time after time, ICE has continued to receive support from elected officials. Take for example the Biden Administration, which continuously  fails to deliver on proper reform for the government agency. The use of ICE can be traced back to every single presidential administration within the past two decades. Former President Obama famously deported over 3 million people during his presidency. When you take all this into consideration, it makes it hard to believe that any administration, regardless of party association, will do anything productive to stop ICE. 

At the heart of this issue is the real lives of millions of immigrants that have to deal with ICE on a regular basis. The hundreds of families currently in detention camps run by this agency, and the hundreds more that will eventually find themselves in the same position. What ICE is currently doing should be considered a humanitarian issue. No individual should be condemned to being one singular thing. Americans need to wake up and realize that their taxpayer money is being used to fund this gang of thugs. In reality, ICE is a coalition of overly patronized individuals who are dead set on a mission fueled by ignorance and hate. Allowing them to continue to operate as freely as they currently do will only result in more abuses of power down the line.

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