I honestly don’t know how you can read this first-hand report from journalist Molly Crabapple and think that abolishing ICE is a radical position. Read this whole damn thing.
an example of how ICE withholds information to keep press out of their facilities: I obtained permission to visit the immigration court at Port Isabel detention center. My friend and me drive up for hearings at 830— Molly Crabapple (@mollycrabapple) July 17, 2018
I offer to have her drop me off and leave. He tells me this is also forbidden. I cannot park the car inside muself because that would involve leaving my friend at the end of a dirt road in the middle of nowhere in the blazing sun for hours— Molly Crabapple (@mollycrabapple) July 17, 2018
I'm able to go to the afternoon session of court by paying a taxi 30$ to drive me 10 minutes into the center. Immigrants leaving detention are also required to be picked up by these exorbitantly expensive taxis, instead of walking to the gate. It's up to $60 to the nearest town— Molly Crabapple (@mollycrabapple) July 17, 2018
As for visits at Port Isabel, ICE requires reporters to submit immigrants's names, dob, alien registration numbers and countries of origin at least 48 hours in advance. While prisoners's names, locations and numbers are available to the public, detained immigrants' are not.— Molly Crabapple (@mollycrabapple) July 17, 2018
At Port Isabel, immigrants are only allowed to speak to reporters for a half hour at a time on Wednesday mornings. When I applied to meet five immigrants who wanted to speak to me, ICE called this “excessive”— Molly Crabapple (@mollycrabapple) July 17, 2018
Soon enough, the journalist gets tired of driving out hours each way to facilities only to be turned away, of filing papers that will only lead to demands for more papers. Their deadline comes up. Out of town journalists run out of budget and go home. And that's the strategy— Molly Crabapple (@mollycrabapple) July 17, 2018
The ICE public affairs officer who delayed sending me forms —preventing me from interviewing detainees — makes $108,000 a year— Molly Crabapple (@mollycrabapple) July 17, 2018
I was refused visits to every single ICE detention facility and CBP border patrol station in the Brownsville/McAllen area. Here's ACF refusing to allow me to visit the shelter for kids in a former Walmart pic.twitter.com/wQ3bdAWLUE— Molly Crabapple (@mollycrabapple) July 18, 2018
Yesterday the Department of Justice sent a document to all Immigration Review courts around McAllen banning unauthorized sketching and threatening federal penalties to artists who didn't comply.
I feel special— Molly Crabapple (@mollycrabapple) July 18, 2018
Today in Harlingen immigration court, removal proceedings started for a 14-year-old indigenous Guatemalan boy who spoke only Quechua. He was unaccompanied and had no lawyer. The appeal information forms are court are only in English— Molly Crabapple (@mollycrabapple) July 18, 2018
Correction- he spoke Kiche', not Quechua— Molly Crabapple (@mollycrabapple) July 18, 2018
Crabapple isn't the only journalist who experienced this Kafkaesque madness. A former investigative reporter for the New York Times confirmed that this kind of authoritarianism is nothing new for an organization created under George W. Bush.
This thread brings back bad memories. ICE always obstructed, so I did interviews with immigration detainees as a “friend,” a driver's license as ID. The detainee knew I was a journalist for @nytimes . Detention personnel did not. Of course there was less media attention then. https://t.co/iMG6QdyF0s— Nina Bernstein (@NinaBernstein1) July 18, 2018
A senior writer for CNN investigations echoed these thoughts too.
A worthwhile thread listing some of the obstacles ICE (and DHS) create to impede reporting. It will be very familiar to anyone who's done this kind of coverage. And though it is getting worse, this has been going on for years. https://t.co/FBPkaLrU9i— Bob Ortega (@Bob_Ortega) July 18, 2018
Even a non-journalist who sponsored an asylum seeker confirmed this thread as representative of her experience with ICE's general practices.
Same. Not as a journalist, but as a sponsor of a detained asylum seeker (at Cibola). The "rules" always change, no one (but ICE?) knows the "rules", I'm in a constant chase to track and support the person I'm sponsoring. A fascist labyrinthine hellscape. https://t.co/xHvMi7wfG0— Tia Keenan (@kasekaiserina) July 18, 2018
Abolish ICE. No civilized country needs a mass deportation force—let alone one who thinks that they’re not accountable to the public.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.