By Wendy M.A.D.
Well, shit, my darlings. We’re there.
On March 18th, armed agents of HSI, a branch of ICE, arrested someone from the 2200 block of Parker Street in South Berkeley. Folks have been trying to figure out where the fuck they took the guy, but here’s the crazy thing: since immigration is considered a matter of civil law, there isn’t a public disclosure of where ICE detainees are. When someone is arrested, usually there’s this mandatory thing of everyone being able to look their name up on a public website so we can figure out where they are, but WHOA! For immigration detainees, they have no such requirements. Several folks I spoke with connected with media watchdog organizations in town are looking to know where this guy went, but no one can find him. He was literally disappeared. We really need to have more discussion of how we might change immigration law in such a way that still protects the privacy of immigrants (like, most immigration stuff really should be kept as civil law), but there seriously needs to be a requirement that when individuals are detained, their whereabouts are publicly reported. This whole thing of disappearing people is really goddamn scary! I unfortunately have no way of backing this up, but what we can assume happened to the guy they took is this:
He was probably taken to Contra Costa prison, which is the only local prison with the proper federal contracts to hold those who have been taken by ICE. From there, we can assume he was deported. At least that is what we hope: that he was merely deported and didn’t suffer a worse fate.
Speaking of freakyass immigration stuff that not enough people are taking about, on Feb 27th, the Supreme Court pulled the Nazi move of making it so ICE detainees can be held indefinitely without bail, and I’d say we’re in trouble. The for-profit prison industry has a huge incentive to keep people in jail as long as possible, cuz for each day they house a human, that’s like $500 of taxpayer money that goes to funding the prison industry. Well, that’s an exaggeration. It’s more like $459.53. At least that’s based on a 2013 study of how much it costs to house and guard inmates in New York (goo.gl/eFfc2Z) – the number may have gone up since then, may be different from state to state, or may be different, even higher, for immigrants, especially if it means little kids are being incarcerated with them.
The fact that immigrant detainees can be held indefinitely is a huge boon for the capitalists who are invested in private prisons. Due to the way capitalism works, these investors are going have been selectively filling the prison industry with business leaders who are willing to put the investor bottom-line before all else: to have more people in prison next quarter than this quarter. That is the only way to make prisons profitable, and by allowing prisons to be for-profit, we’ve opened our society up to this horrible logic.
Right now, hundreds of our neighbors and colleagues are at risk of being taken by ICE. Among those who have citizenship, there is talk of “when will we have to start hiding our friends in our basements?” It is a stupid question to have to be asking. Aren’t we over this sort of thing? Didn’t we figure it out in the Second World War?
Those of us who remember the stories from the Second World War grow increasingly nervous about having denationalized people disappeared from their homes by gun-toting thugs with badges and uniforms. It was through the over-policing of the German border—and the over-policing of the concept of “who’s a real German?”—that the S.S. rose to power in Nazi Germany, and gradually, more and more groups became denationalized, or lost their legal status as citizens. As the Nazis worked to denationalize more and more groups—immigrants, Jews, gypsies, gay people, Jehovah’s witnesses, communists, and others—the legal and social apparatuses were set up to allow those groups of people to be swiftly jailed, murdered and disposed of in a way that was so fluid the German populace didn’t notice. According to historical accounts, the vast majority of Germans didn’t learn about the gas chambers until after the war – they just kept about business as usual as their neighbors were being disappeared and gassed.
As we see a rise to power in the United States of a new type of police force, ICE, and as we see them breaking our local laws about Sanctuary Cities, and as we see them flaunting their ability to murder by walking our streets with submachine guns strapped to their chests (seriously, have you noticed the creepy-ass ICE agents with submachine guns at the entrance to A’s games now?! Some of my friends have stopped taking their kids to baseball games cuz they don’t want them exposed to people flaunting guns like that!), as we see all this starting to happen, we simply must push back. Not just by protesting, but fighting like crazy for better laws, getting money out of prisons (or how about abolishing them!), and robbing these people of any social, legal, financial and political tools that enable them to have these levels of absolute power over individuals and our society. And we have to keep our eyes on our neighbors. If someone gets taken by ICE, we simply have to follow up and make sure they are okay. Our compliance is being tested. If we sit idly by in these times, we will open up the floodgates for greater levels of abuse.
* If you were to happen to have someone who could be undocumented hidden in your basement and ICE shows up, remember your rights. They may not enter your premises w/o a warrant. You can ask them to show the warrant to you before they enter your home. If they don’t have one to show you, you can say, “I do not forfeit my rights to have my home searched without a warrant.”
* Be sure to have a livestreaming app on your phone so if you spot ICE doing anything illegal or abusive, you can make it immediately public.