Immigrations and Customs Enforcement are apparently now operating under a policy of not disclosing information about those that they arrest. Making their arrests and ultimate deportations essentially disappearances, ICE operations have progressively degraded the civil rights of those deemed to be undocumented immigrants. When even the nativist NH newspaper, the Union Leader, criticizes the practices of the federal paramilitary organization, it is worth taking notice.
An unsigned editorial published today wanted to clarify that it was not advocating for the rights of those arrested to not be disappeared. In obedient praise of federal immigration policy, the newspaper so subjectively reported, “We are all for getting illegal bad guys off the street.” Language focused against a targeted demographic couldn’t get more presumptuously loaded than “illegal bad guy”. But while the UL is happy to report the word of the federal government that the immigrants arrested were all dangerous criminals, they will not idly accept news of NH arrests without the most basic unit of information attached: the name of the arrested party.
This isn’t the first time that ICE has made secret (they used the nomenclature “private”) arrests in the state. Last year, during a publicity show to announce 2,900 arrests around the country, agency spokesmen listed six secret arrests in New Hampshire. This year’s show boasted 3,100 arrests, twenty-four of them in the state, with sixteen in Manchester alone. In the newspaper’s editorial, it is implied that this year’s entire list of arrestees is being kept confidential. At the end of the article, it is announced that the Union Leader will be filing a federal freedom of information lawsuit to secure the right of the public to know who is being arrested in their name.
While I find it hard to support the limits of the position taken on why federal agents shouldn’t make arrests in secret, I do wish the newspaper luck in its legal conquest. Their victory would have the unintended consequence of securing some of the civil rights of the accused, in allowing their family and friends to know where they are and what is happening to them.