Statement to Demand the Abolition of ICE

Silicon Valley Democratic Socialists of America joins the call from activist groups and other DSA chapters around the country to demand the abolition of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the immediate reunification of detained families, and the halt to all detentions and deportations. We stand in solidarity with asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants, who left their homes to find safety, stability, and dignity for their families and themselves.

As democratic socialists, our long-term goal is the total transformation of the criminal justice system of the United States. The present system is one whose primary function is to enforce and reinforce capitalist exploitation: for-profit prison corporations receive billions of dollars in contracts each year, which they then spend on lobbying to keep more people in jail for longer. These private interests fund politicians who run on “tough-on-crime” platforms and scapegoat poor minority communities, who are disproportionately arrested, assaulted, and killed by heavily militarized police forces. Far from pursuing safety and justice for all, the system is one that is fundamentally driven by the profit motive.

While ICE’s practice of separating some 3,000 migrant children from their parents was uniquely cruel and unjustifiable, the agency is not an aberration, but rather an extension of the existing prison industrial complex, and its targets are some of the most vulnerable populations of all: refugees and economic migrants with minimal resources and social standing. Like the rest of the criminal justice system, ICE’s program of mass arrest and detention serves to funnel taxes to corporations such as the GEO Group and CoreCivic, and to rally political support from the anti-immigrant and white nationalist voter bases.

Meanwhile, ICE conducts raids of homes and businesses, brandishing weapons at non-threatening individuals, and violently arresting immigrants en masse. In its detention facilities, there have been a staggering number of reports of forced labor, solitary confinement, physical and sexual abuse, and death from neglect or suicide. These actions are morally indefensible and have no place in a just, democratic society. Yet they are not only allowed, but endorsed by white nationalists and prison profiteers who benefit from maintaining a criminalized, racialized underclass.

We support the right of all people to move freely, and at the same time, we recognize that current patterns of human migration are the direct result of U.S. military and CIA intervention in South America, Central America, and other places. The U.S. has supported coups and assassinations against democratically-elected governments in favor of corporate interests, and gave way to the rise of gangs and cartels by pursuing the disastrous War on Drugs. These actions produced the violence and poverty that migrants are escaping today, but rather than confront this legacy, proponents of ICE and zero-tolerance immigration policies prefer to ignore the root causes and punish the victims. In contrast, we stand for immigration justice, which requires not just the total transformation of domestic immigration policy, including the abolition of ICE, but also redress for the U.S.’ legacy of colonial violence abroad.

Democratic socialism aims to build a world in which all people are free from poverty and violence, and everyone has a voice in the affairs that govern their lives. We believe that the worth of a human being should never be based on their race, place of origin, or their productive capacity in the workforce. Crucially, we believe that capitalism is antithetical to these goals. Capitalism provides the incentives for U.S. colonial intervention, criminalization of non-citizens and the poor, and expansion of the sprawling prison industrial complex. So, we condemn not only ICE for its violent and inhumane actions, but also the forces of capitalism and white supremacy that undergird its mission. Once ICE is abolished, we will continue the fight to dismantle the carceral state and the violent anti-immigration apparatus, including Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security, and we will enact new systems that are democratic and equitable, which guarantee safety, dignity, and material well-being to all people.