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Kent County Commissioner Antor uses Trumpisms to justify ICE Contract

August 24, 2018

Yesterday, after those involved with the End the Contract campaign had left the Kent County Commission meeting, Commissioner Antor spent over six minutes defending the county’s contract with ICE by using the same narrative that the current administration does.

Commissioner Antor also said several other things in his attempt to “set the record straight,” comments which we want to deconstruct. However, we are posting the video here so that people can draw their own conclusions based on the comments of Commissioner Antor.

One of the main themes of Commissioner Antor’s comments was that ICE was not arrested people just because they are “illegal aliens” ( he actually referred to undocumented immigrants as illegal aliens), but because they were dangerous people. The claim that undocumented immigrants are dangerous – murderers, rapists, etc – was a narrative that Donald Trump used during his 2016 campaign for President and it has been a narrative that he has continued to use within the past few months.

The number often cited by the current administration is that undocumented immigrants have killed 63,000 people since September 11, 2001. There are numerous media sources that have refuted this claim, beginning with Snopes.com, which dismantled this claim this past June. 

If you are suspect of Snopes.com, then we only need to turn to more mainstream sources such as the New York Times, the Washington Post or National Public Radio, all of which has fact checked the claim that undocumented immigrants are dangerous murderers. The NPR story is particularly compelling, since they cite four separate studies to refute the meta-narrative that undocumented immigrants are dangerous criminals.

It was interesting that the only sources that Commissioner Antor cited were Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Sheriff’s office. Antor cites these sources as if they are unbiased and factual, because of course law enforcement agencies would not lie or mislead the public. Or would they?

Earlier this year, the International Human Rights Clinic (based in Chicago) obtained through the Freedom of Information Act some 4,600 pages of documents from the Department of Homeland Security, demonstrating widespread abuse of immigrant children who were in detention

In April of this year, the investigative online journal, The Intercept, discovered that there were over 1,200 of sexual abuse of immigrants in US detention, mostly at the hands of ICE officers. The Intercept also found that even though over 1200 complaints were filed that only 43 were investigated.

This counter narrative confirms the information that those involved with GR Rapid Response to ICE have been sharing about the weekly calls they receive from immigrant families that have been impacted by ICE arrests and detentions. What GR Rapid Response to ICE has been hearing is that most people are being picked up by ICE for minor infractions, not for “dangerous” criminal behavior.

Another point that Commissioner Antor made in his remarks was that the number of ICE arrests that required beds at the Kent County Jail was trending down. What those of us in the End the Contract campaign have been saying over and over again is that even one family that is being terrorized by ICE is too many in Kent County.

Commissioner Antor then makes a comment about how the ICE arrests and deportations did not begin under the current administration, but with the Obama administration and why were those protesting not acknowledging this. First, ICE arrests and detentions began during the George W. Bush administration, when ICE was created. Second, the End the Contract protests have always acknowledged that ICE arrests, detentions and deportation under the Obama administration were unjust. In fact, if the commissioners ever bothered to ask or look into Movimiento Cosecha they would realize that this movement began by Latino/Latinx youth who forced the Obama administration to adopt DACA. However, those same youth that gave birth to Movimiento Cosecha also then wanted protections for their parents and other family members who were facing deportation, so the truth is that resisting the ICE and anti-immigration policies of the Obama administration is what brought about the movement.

In addition, the fact that the current End the Contract campaign is only now challenging the County about their ICE contract, is because the campaign only found out nine months ago that Kent County even had a contract with ICE. What really pisses off Commissioner Antor, the other commissioners and the Sheriff’s Department is that fact that Movimiento Cosecha GR and GR Rapid Response to ICE has made the county’s contract with ICE public.

Lastly, Commissioner Antor accused those involved in the protests at the Kent County Commission meetings over the last 2 months of being “uncivil,” even though at yesterday’s meeting people stood silently while the commission meeting continued. The counter narrative is that people involved in this campaign have engaged in CIVIL disobedience and CIVIL resistance precisely because of the fact that families right here in Kent County are being separated by ICE, which includes the complicity of the County because of their contract to allow ICE to hold immigrants at the Kent County Jail. Commissioner Antor is upset that people are challenging him and his fellow commissioners. The commissioners are bothered by the fact that people from their community are engaging them in ways that are outside of their comfort zone, which has become so apparent from the very beginning of the campaign.

At the first meeting, Chairman Saalfeld ended the meeting and he and most of the other commissioners walked out so that they didn’t have to listen to the testimony from the people most affected by ICE violence. Then the county put up barriers to separate themselves from the public and now funnel people through a narrow area to where public comment takes place. This all happens during meetings that take place at 8:30am on a Thursday morning, which makes it impossible for most people who work first shift or have children, to even attend a county commission meeting to talk about issues they care so deeply about. At the August 6th meeting that Movimiento Cosecha GR and GR Rapid Response to ICE had with county officials, these issues were brought up and the only response that was given was, “this is the way they have always done it.” Well maybe it is time for Kent County to do things differently, to practice democracy more authentically, and more importantly, to actually listen to members of the immigrant community and their allies who want them to end their contract with ICE immediately!

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