Op-ed: The U.S.’s Largest Police Force Needs Body Cams

(Photo/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

With U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) operating as enforcement arms of the anti-immigrant mass deportation agenda, the time is now to demand oversight and accountability the same way we already do for municipal law enforcement.

Reports have surfaced on Staten Island alleging that ICE agents showed up at immigrants’ homes with a picture of a man, saying they needed help in finding someone who was supposedly dangerous, and that once the door opened ICE agents conducted an arrest. Also on Staten Island, ICE agents allegedly identified themselves as police at the door.

As a result of practices like these ones,  U.S. Senators Kamala Harris of California, and Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall of New Mexico recently introduced a bill that would require border agents from ICE and CBP to wear body cameras. Congressman Filemon Vela of Texas also introduced the bill in the House.

As Vicki Gaubeca, the director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition, wrote in The Hill this week, body-worn cameras have become a standard best practice for many law enforcement agencies throughout the country. In the article, she cited the case of Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, a 16-year-old boy who was shot and killed by Border Patrol agent. Body cameras played a role in securing an upcoming retrial for the agent, who was previously acquitted.

And, as Long Island Wins’ Pat Young recently wrote, the costs of ICE enforcement are only increasing, with more than $200 million being reallocated from agencies like FEMA to ICE to pump up its deportation operations to a record $3 billion, up from $1.77 billion in 2010.

With growing calls to abolish the out-of-control ICE, the very least we can do is implement a policy that has been shown to improve law enforcement agencies’ transparency, accountability and public trust.