"If you don't have enough evidence to charge someone criminally but you think he's illegal, we can make him disappear." Those chilling words were spoken by James Pendergraph, then executive director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of State and Local Coordination, at a conference of police and sheriffs in August 2008. Also present was Amnesty International's Sarnata Reynolds, who wrote about the incident in the 2009 report "Jailed Without Justice" and said in an interview, "It was almost surreal being there, particularly being someone from an organization that has worked on disappearances for decades in other countries. I couldn't believe he would say it so boldly, as though it weren't anything wrong."
Pendergraph knew that ICE could disappear people, because he knew that in addition to the publicly listed field offices and detention sites, ICE is also confining people in 186 unlisted and unmarked subfield offices, many in suburban office parks or commercial spaces revealing no information about their ICE tenants--nary a sign, a marked car or even a US flag. (Presumably there is a flag at the Veterans Affairs Complex in Castle Point, New York, but no one would associate it with the Criminal Alien Program ICE is running out of Building 7.) Designed for confining individuals in transit, with no beds or showers, subfield offices are not subject to ICE Detention Standards. The subfield office network was mentioned in an October report by Dora Schriro, then special adviser to Janet Napolitano, secretary of Homeland Security, but no locations were provided.
Link thanks to Constance Ash.
I'm not sure what can be done about this sort of thing-- there's contributing to Amnesty International and Southern Poverty Law.
I post about these outrages, but I have no idea how to convince people who don't see them as outrages, and I don't see how they can be ended (or mostly ended) unless the general public is revolted by them. Maybe I'm looking for too much of a magic bullet, and it's at least as much of a long hard slog as making slavery illegal.
I should probably read more about Abolitionism (especially in the countries that used the law-- I don't think a civil war about the justice system is feasible or desirable) and see how much of it was "we aren't the kind of people who do that sort of thing" even when we obviously are, and how much was "we need to do better than we have been".