Trump used the State of the Union as yet another depraved call for the administration’s anti-immigrant agenda

For Immediate Release: 
Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Washington, DC — In response to Trump’s fear-mongering and divisive State of the Union address, Silky Shah, Executive Director of Detention Watch Network, issued the following statement:

“Trump used the State of the Union as yet another depraved call for the administration’s anti-immigrant agenda at the expense of immigrant lives and healthy, thriving communities nationwide. He repeatedly exploited isolated tragedies to demonize entire immigrant communities — a signature move from the administration’s playbook to criminalize and attack immigrants at large while placing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on a pedestal.

Here’s a fact check on ICE:

ICE’s track record of abuse is long-standing.

  • Currently, people detained at the ICE-run detention center in El Paso are on hunger-strike protesting their incarceration and conditions inside the facility. One striker has lost 50 pounds since his refusal of food started. ICE has responded with abusive retaliation, including painful force-feeding, a cruel and inhumane practice.

People are dying in ICE’s custody.

A culture of corruption, secrecy, and woefully inadequate oversight permeates ICE.

  • In 2017, a year federal aid claims rose a record breaking tenfold, ICE took $200 million from other parts of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to pay for overspending on detention and deportation. And they did it despite explicit congressional objection.

Beyond actively supporting the ongoing harm done by ICE on immigrant communities, Trump continues to manufacture a non-existent crisis at the border as a ploy to build his hateful wall, ruthlessly lock up as many people as possible, and to make the case for rapid expansion of immigration detention.

We denounce Trump’s fear-mongering address aimed at dividing the American public.

We call on our elected officials to stand with immigrant communities and denounce Trump’s address, while calling for significant cuts in funding to ICE and Customs and Border Protection, agencies carrying out Trump’s white nationalist vision. As he continues to push policies of division and hate, we will continue to demand dignity, justice and liberation for immigrant communities.”


Detention Watch Network (DWN) is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to expose and challenge the injustices of the United States’ immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for profound change that promotes the rights and dignity of all persons. Founded in 1997 by immigrant rights groups, DWN brings together advocates to unify strategy and build partnerships on a local and national level to end immigration detention. Visit