At a public roundtable on immigration enforcement last week (yes, that one), ICE director Thomas Homan took to the mic to lament his woes as a criticized public official: “ICE does more to protect immigrant communities than any politician ever, ever has done … I’m sick and tired of the constant vilification of these men and women.”
Naturally, Full Frontal took those claims to task on Wednesday—first by comparing Homan’s gripes to the infamous Chris Crocker “Leave Britney alone” video, and then by breaking down the idea that ICE is a bastion of American safety. Host Samantha Bee’s argument was simple but affecting: “Let’s shut it the fuck down!”
The segment goes on to delineate how new ICE is, and how the agency prioritizes (often unnecessary) punishment over actual effectiveness. From increased incarceration and prolonged detainment (sometimes of actual American citizens) to sexual abuse in immigration detention centers, ICE isn’t exactly known for its humaneness. Plus, as Bee points out, the agency is just as old as America’s Next Top Model: “You’ve known what smizing is for as long as ICE has existed.”
Even Ronald Reagan wouldn’t support ICE, as footage of the Republican icon from 1984 shows he believed in amnesty for all immigrants, even undocumented ones. In fact, Bee points out, it was Bill Clinton who began the rollback on immigrant rights with mass deportations during his presidency.Ultimately, Bee’s argument is simple: immigrants are people, and there shouldn’t be an entire government organization devoted to terrorizing them. When immigrants commit crimes, Bee contends, it would make the most sense—and take less resources—to simply refer them to the justice system. “We spend more than $6 billion a year on this bloated, unaccountable, cruel department,” she says.* “They’re getting rid of immigrants who are already living in our society, most of whom just want the same things we all want: a safe place to live, a job to support their family, and more skin on Riverdale.”
Correction, May 24, 2018: This post originally misquoted Bee as saying, “We spend more than $6 million a year on this bloated, unaccountable, cruel department.” It’s $6 billion.