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Moira Whelan @moira
, 22 tweets, 6 min read Read on Twitter
THREAD: Amid all of the calls to #abolishICE, I found myself asking, where did it come from? Why did we do it? Maybe we made a mistake. I was there and remember it thematically, but I wanted to remind myself. Maybe it will help others. 1/
First source, this amazing article on how DHS came to be. 5 people debating the largest overhaul of the US government since the creation of DoD...and presenting it to the Cabinet as a fait accompli. 2/
At the center of the need to fix things was the border: how did 26 people come to our country and blow up buildings. Answer: a border where 7 different Cabinet agencies touched a traveler on any given day. It had to be fixed. 3/
One gem I'd forgotten: Condi Rice arguing that putting all enforcement under one agency would "make the department look like the German Interior Ministry." 🤔

So the FBI and the DEA escaped the merger through the swipe of a marker on a white board...literally. 4/
the point is that the merger was about fixing the terrorism problem. it put beat cop type inspectors in the same office as the cuff-link wearing investigators of trafficking, money laundering and drug running in the same room, and forcing them to work together to get bad guys. 5/
Fast forward: 2003 and the creation of @ICEgov. They were going to "connect the dots" and we talked a lot about "layers" and "swiss cheese." They worked to brand. CBP had "One Face at the Border" and cool new uniforms. ICE had a cool name, and, yes, keychains like this. 6/
But they weren't happy. People didn't get paid. They didn't sit together. They weren't paid the same amount. The guys who got respect for investigating a drug cartel were on the same footing as people who hunted down a deadbeat who'd been accidentally freed and not deported. 7/
Another eye opening piece from the time:… 8/
Cops bitching about cops=not new. But here's the thing: all of this was with purpose. It was created on the basis that the borders needed to be secured to protect us from BAD GUYS WHO FLEW PLANES INTO BUILDINGS. 9/
The passionate agents who wanted to pursue money laundering, pornography, drugs...they did. And they caught lots of bad guys, but it wasn't "The big T" (terrorism) as it was known. 10/
So what happened. How did @ICEgov turn into the Gestapo that many communities in the United States now view them to be? And are they really still fulfilling the organizational intent for which they were formed? 11/
One reason is the ability to make use of one of the oldest laws on the books--literally--of the US government: customs enforcement. It had pretty wide reaching authority. As described to me: "How do you think we caught foreign fur trappers in the 18th Century?" 12/
In the early 20th century it was prohibition. Customs agents could do more than just take your booze. They could follow you, infiltrate your operation, and do all of it without the knowledge of the local sheriff. 13/
So that law is still on the books. Only now they're hunting people, and the detention and removal part of INS that joined them, well...those two teams finally went out for 🍻 it seems. 14/
And now, they've got the green light for this to be the priority over investigations of gangs, drugs, money laundering and other horrible things. Funny thing is, these are exactly the things the Trump Administration claims are the problem. 15/
So instead of empowering investigators who follow the money, develop the sources, create diplomatic solutions to train and work with Treasury and Commerce to do fun stuff like targeted freezing of assets, they just arrest people for working in restaurants. 16/
So I have missed a lot here, but i think national security experts miss the point that the progressive call to #abolishICE is not just a knee-jerk anger at cops. It is also a recognition that they aren't doing what we built them to do. 17/
Instead, they are using a legislative authority to accomplish a political goal, not tied in any empirical way to making the country safer. Moreover, as law enforcement, they have lost the trust of the public. That is an even threat to our system. 18/
We took government apart and put it back together before, and it was an effort strongly supported by Rs and Ds (certainly with a fog of terrorism thrown in). Point being, we can do it again. 19/
I am cool with #AbolishICE. They've gone too far from what they were intended to do. in its place I need a center for investigating the cross-border white supremacist movement and ties to organized crime, illicit drug trade and gangs and other things they're ignoring. 20/
And I'm not talking about creating a new agency to do new perp walks. I'm talking about a hybrid of law enforcement and support for good policy making. People who can help us rethink the way we do things to actually make us safer. 21/
I hope Serious People will stop dismissing #abolishICE as a leftist perspective and explore the policy merits based on security gaps. We can get safer, and start agreeing more all at the same time. Thanks for listening. 22/22 END
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