The word means “to pull up by the roots.” It’s from the Latin eradicatus, the past participle of the Latin verb eradicare. So literally, “root.” The word “radish” comes from the same.
Why the word choice then? Because it’s important that we not just shut down the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). We can’t just mow it over and expect it not to grow back.
Given the reputation ICE has earned — it’s regularly compared to fascist organizations like the SS and the Gestapo — it’s not enough just to close its doors. It has to be rooted out. Arguing that ICE isn’t really operating at the level of the Gestapo or the SS may be accurate, but it misses the point. We must never accept the presence of an agency that operates at any level which invites constant comparison to such reprehensible forces. We must never accept an agency which employs their tactics: Separating parents from children, lying to families (including actually telling parents they’re taking children away to bathe them), seizing and collecting mountains of personal items, randomly searching public transportation, harassing peaceful immigrants, arresting immigrant leadership under the lightest pretenses. If these actions can be excused, God forbid we ever have a “real” Gestapo. But we should draw the line hard and bright, a great distance away from that point. Sadly, many of us recognize that we’ve already crossed that line.
So we must abolish ICE, but we also can’t leave any trace of the agency or its policies, practices, and methodologies behind. Once it’s closed, all of its employees must seek jobs on their own, so there’s no indication that ICE or any of its departments have survived or have simply been transplanted into other sections of the government garden. There has to be no trace left of the agency. We owe it to the world, to our immigrants, to ourselves. As a nation that claims to be “exceptional,” we must clarify that we do not accept an agency like ICE in its sum, or even in its parts. Otherwise, we’re forever in danger of remaining suspect.
Does that sound extreme? It’s not.
ICE hasn’t existed in the United States for very long and there’s no reason to accept that its impact upon the American experiment need be enduring, nor any more storied (with horror stories) than it already is.
First, remember that ICE is still a teenager. A mere scamp in the context of American history. Much younger than many of the undocumented immigrants it arrests, who may have lived here peaceably for decades. ICE was formed via the 2002 Homeland Security Act in direct response to 9/11. When the Department of Homeland Security was established in 2003, it created the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which we now know as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE.
ICE. It’s a fitting, chilling name, isn’t it?
We didn’t need ICE before 2003 and we don’t need it now. We existed without ICE for decades upon decades upon decades. We have other branches of law enforcement, which have attended to immigration-related issues and will continue to do so: Your local police force. Immigration services. U.S. Customs and Border Control. (Each these could benefit from scrutiny, too, course.) There’s no need to resurrect ICE once it’s been eradicated, nor to have it squirreled away within some shadowy corner of the Department of Homeland Security. It should simply cease to exist.