Washington, DC — On Monday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced it is recruiting for the inaugural class of a new Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Chicago Citizens Academy (ECA). This will build upon similar programs that exist within Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). In response to this news, Detention Watch Network and the St. Louis Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America offered the following statements:
Silky Shah, Executive Director of Detention Watch Network, said:
“There is no ambiguity about the intention of this new program. ICE is recruiting an army of ‘citizens’ to fuel its propaganda machine and forge hatred in our communities. We cannot let this news slip under the radar.
We already know that the outcome of this program will be more terror unleashed upon immigrant communities and people of color. With the new ECA program, ICE is opening the door to more hate crimes and actively providing the tools for people to commit them under the guise of public safety.
As we saw most recently with the killing of Ahmaud Arbery and targeting of Christian Cooper, our communities are already plagued by racist civilian profiling that threatens the lives of Black and brown people every day. This moment calls for the defunding of our racist carceral and deportation systems. The program must be stopped now before it begins. We must abolish ICE and its white nationalist machine.”
Sara John, Executive Director of the St. Louis Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America (IFCLA), said:
"We are outraged at the launch of yet another immoral initiative used by ICE to criminalize and destroy our families. The Citizens Academy program will train citizens to perpetuate race-based violence and further normalizes hate crimes that already devastate our neighborhoods. Our tax dollars should not be spent on this hatred - especially not when a global pandemic continues to wreak havoc on our communities. This blatant endorsement of white supremacy coded in a false display of patriotism seeks to excuse racial profiling and will only lead to increased violence, hatred and xenophobia in our 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 www.detentionwatchnetwork.org. Follow @DetentionWatch.