Many had hoped that the Biden administration would be able to usher in immediate changes with regards to immigration, and it has, but as Ortiz explained, rooting out the “deep and toxic culture at these agencies … that [were] accountable to no one” is extremely difficult. In particular, he called out ICE’s continued attacks on Black immigrant communities, attacks that have continued even under the Biden administration because ICE is not being held accountable by anyone.
President Biden has signed several executive orders to roll back Trump’s policies on immigration. However, as Signorile noted, “A Trump-appointed judge has issued his injunction putting a hold on one of the executive orders that would stop deportations. Biden is also trying to stop construction of Trump’s wall and getting resistance there, too.”
The Trump administration made a concerted effort to make things as difficult as possible for the incoming Biden administration on issues related to immigration, Ortiz stated, and admitted this is creating serious problems:
One thing to remember is that, you know, even though there is a court order in place, ICE—the agency itself—has total discretion when it comes to deportations. It can say, ‘We’re not going to prioritize this person for deportation,’ it can stop deportation flights, it can release people from detention. You know, we have, I think, a very deliberate action from the ICE agency. ICE, I think, is testing the Biden administration and seeing how far it can possibly go in defying the president’s orders.
Biden now faces the “daunting task” of changing these agencies, Signorile said, but with the Democrats controlling the U.S. Senate, there may be some opportunities to push back and “put people on the record.” Ortiz reminded everyone that people can pressure these leaders to get a hold of ICE and emphasized the need for accountability:
These recent court orders, the recent actions from ICE—it makes the case that in the end, what families need is permanent. They need … a path to citizenship so that we don’t see this sort of injustice and horrific action that we’ve been seeing in the last couple of days.
You can listen to the full audio here: