There’s something truly sinister about holding an award ceremony to celebrate the accomplishments of people with a known history of human rights abuses and corruption. But that’s precisely what our president did earlier this week.
In an effort to prop up the men and women of his deportation force, Donald Trump held a pep rally in the White House for active personnel from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection on Monday.
As one would expect, Trump sang all kinds of praises to the agents of both agencies and wasted no time in morphing his phony award ceremony into a campaign rally, where he lambasted critics of either agency, saying “extremists who attack ICE and CBC like to portray themselves as champions of social justice.”
Yes, the president of the United States ― a person whose role and powers are vast and unique ― used his platform to attack and demean concerned citizens, residents and individuals in this country for expressing distrust in a law enforcement agency. It’s embarrassing and insulting that the American people’s opinions on the matter are being ridiculed ― and at a White House event, no less.
Not once during his remarks did Trump admit there may be room for improvement within the ranks of ICE and CBP. He did, however, manage to address CBP agents incorrectly throughout (he repeatedly referred to the agency as “CBC”) and took time to give a Hispanic-American Border Patrol agent a cringeworthy congratulations for his “perfect English.”
More important, missing from Trump’s remarks were the hideous and horrible atrocities that ICE and CBP have committed over the years. Instead, the president pledged to secure the “resources, the tools, and the authorities you need to do your job, and do it properly and do it strong” while glossing over the two agencies’ dark histories. In the year and a half Trump has been commander in chief, ICE and CBP have:
And this list doesn’t even scratch the surface of how ICE and CBP have enjoyed their newfound freedom under the Trump administration.
It’s embarrassing and insulting that the American people’s opinions on the matter are being ridiculed ― and at a White House event, no less.
If you think I’m rambling about federal agencies I simply don’t like, then please consider the following:
As Jonathan Blitzer of The New Yorker recently pointed out, not a single ICE or CBP agent has been held accountable or fired since the disastrous zero tolerance immigration policy was put in place or for any of the “unshackled” practices they have employed in recent memory. Instead, the same federal agents that Trump tasked with terrorizing immigrant communities across the country are receiving promotions and White House recognition ceremonies.
Where is the accountability?
As taxpayers, documented or otherwise, we should expect our federal government to serve our best interests and the interests of our nation. That is, we should expect ICE and CBP to function in a way that doesn’t ignite controversy because they decided to brandish automatic weapons when raiding a workplace within a rural community instead of a more sensible and smart approach.
ICE and CBP will continue to appear in headlines both by virtue of their constant abuse of power and the willingness of this administration to capitalize on tragedies involving immigrants. And alongside those headlines, you’ll find the president and his White House ready to demean and insult anyone who dares disagree.
Just as you wouldn’t give a gold medal to the person finishing last in an Olympic event or throw a party for an employee who is continuously underperforming, we shouldn’t be patting ICE and CBP officers on the back.
The only thing we’ll achieve by handing out hollow awards and recognition to federal agents ― who are left unsupervised by the commander in chief and his Republican friends in Congress ― is the continued erosion of trust between minorities and law enforcement agencies. And that is not an America anyone should be proud of.
Juan Escalante is an immigrant advocate and online strategist who has been fighting for the Dream Act and pro-immigration policies at all levels of government for the past 10 years.