A protest against ICE in Washington DC

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ICE isn’t taking a holiday from detaining immigrants

As the holiday season starts off, ICE is quietly detaining immigrants and surveilling them

Dec 24, 2019, 2:20 pm*

IRL

Samira Sadeque 

Samira Sadeque

As America is in the middle of the holiday season, Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) is keeping rather busy—quietly detaining immigrants, using social media to tap and trap immigrants facing possible detentions, while also expanding immigration detention facilities. 

On Friday, which for many was the beginning of Christmas break in the country, a 23-year-old DACA immigrant was reportedly arrested from her work shift, according to KNX10.70. Daniella Ramirez at the West Covina Marriot when she taken into custody at 5:30am. 

Ramirez, whose DACA permit had expired, told NBC Los Angeles that she was afraid of being jailed if she tried to renew it, as she’d heard of such instances —a testament to the dilemma some immigrants feel in the face of increased crackdowns by ICE.

Also in Southern California, ICE is reported to have tapped into the social media of a Mexican man to identify and locate him. According to an Intercept report, ICE tracked information from a man they were surveilling, from his relationship status to photos from his father’s birthday party. The man was arrested from a Home Depot after he checked in at the location on Facebook.

The man, identified only as Sid, has been in the country since he was a year old, and has children who are American citizens. He had been deported once before, and his information was eventually sold to the department through for-profit data collection brokers, the Intercept reported.     

“The target may not be together with REDACTED at the moment he wrote on his page a general statement of missing someone and mentioned later how he is broken hearted. The target does have a daughter and what appears to be a son (video of a soccer field following what appears to be a male adolescent),” the Intercept quoted from an ICE information sheet that identified him.

Meanwhile, ICE is reportedly expanding one of their facilities in Kern County, California, by almost five times its current capacity, just in time to evade a state ban that would prohibit further contracts for private prison facilities.

In their latest contract with GEO Group, ICE has agreed to increase the number of beds for detained immigrants from 400 to 1,800 at the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Center, Bakersfield.com reported. This comes just ahead of the implementation of a ban, passed in October and to be executed starting January 1, on any more for-profit prison contracts. 

The office of Governor Gavin Newsom, which signed the bill in the fall, has told Bakersfield.com that ICE was trying to “circumvent the state’s authority with the new contracts.” ICE has claimed that because the ban is effective only from January 1, it doesn’t apply to them—effectively proving the point expressed by Newsom’s office. 

While ICE remains relentlessly focused on detaining immigrants who it appears are just out of options, Ramirez’s family in West Covina has started a GoFundMe to raise funds for her legal costs.

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*First Published: Dec 25, 2019, 6:30 am