Things That Matter

ICE Tried To Celebrate Human Rights Day, Julian Castro Was Not Having It

Human Rights Day commemorates the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10, 1948. Immigration Customs and Enforcement’s (ICE) official account tweeted the agency was recognizing Human Rights Day by using a photo of multicultural children locking hands.

ICE, who has repeatedly been criticized during the Trump administration for several human rights violations including denying children flu vaccinations, separating families, and detaining migrants in inhumane and overcrowded living conditions often compared to concentration camps, received a huge backlash on Twitter – including a clapback from former HUD secretary Julian Castro.

ICE tweeted about Human Rights Day, and Twitter implodes at the audacity. 

ICE’s tweet to honor Human Rights Day included a link to a press release congratulating themselves for being such great big champions of human rights. 

“The women and men of ICE dedicate themselves every day to protecting the dignity and human rights of people around the world. Through our work investigating perpetrators of genocide, torture, war crimes and other violations of human rights, they are committed to seeking the prosecution and removal of human rights violators seeking refuge here.” Assistant Director for National Security David Shaw said in a press release, unironically. “We will not allow the United States to be a safe haven for those who violate human rights.”

In October, Castro visited a migrant detention center in Mexico to see what the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy really looked like. 

 “A lot of families along the border who are part of this MPP program have been subjected to violence, some have been kidnapped, some have been extorted, some have been treated a lot worse than what they were fleeing from,” Castro told BuzzFeed News

Under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) policy, migrants must wait in Mexican detention centers while their cases are processed in the U.S. 

“I don’t see humanitarian shelter,” Castro said of the detention center. “I see a lot of desperate parents, a lot of desperate children, sick children. I see a polluted river… It’s a disaster. People should not live like this.”

Julian Castro had a few choice words for ICE’s tweet. 

“Delete your account,” was Castro’s simple suggestion to the agency, adding, “we need to break up ICE and build a more humane immigration system.” 

The former HUD secretary advocates for largely redistributing ICE’s duties into other departments. Senator Bernie Sanders is the only candidate that has called for abolishing ICE, according to the Washington Post

“ICE needs to be overhauled,” Castro told The Post. “My immigration policy would transfer the enforcement responsibilities of the agency to other departments such as the DOJ to guarantee higher standards of conduct and more focused prosecutorial discretion — ensuring resources are focused on targeting criminals and national security threats.”

Castro was the first candidate to unveil an immigration plan calling for a complete reformation of our immigration system. He would end migrant detention except in serious cases, create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented families who don’t currently have one, decriminalize illegal border crossings, and establish a Marshall Plan for Central America. 

“I’ve been clear that I’m not going to criminalize desperation. We need to understand that these are human beings. They’re not a criminal record or an invader or an other. They’re human beings that are simply coming — like generations have before — in search of a better life,” Castro told Vox of his plan

Unlike the other candidates, in Castro’s “People First” plan he calls for a complete investigation into the Trump administration’s immigration policies. It states, “there must be a thorough investigation of ICE, Customs and Border Protection, and the Department of  Justice’s role in family separation policies instituted by the Trump administration.”

Critics did not miss the irony of ICE’s tweet.

“Satire is dead when the authoritarian gov’t agency that violently rounds up immigrants and throws them into privatized for-profit concentration camps where parents are separated from their children also pretends to honor Human Rights Day with a stock photo,” reporter Ben Norton tweeted. 

The Interfaith Immigration Coalition released a statement criticizing the agency wherein it calls out several ICE controversies including deporting cancer patients, military veterans, and taking asylum seeker Nebane Abienwi off life support against their family’s wishes. They called ICE’s tweet gaslighting given the agency’s track record. 

“ICE is one of the principal abusers of human rights in the United States,” said Katie Adams, Domestic Policy Advocate with the United Church of Christ and Co-Chair of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition“This is gaslighting in its purest form. December 10th is about holding ICE, and others like them across the globe, accountable for crimes against humanity. Pretending ICE is somehow part of the solution is outrageous.” 

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com