System reform iconSystem Reform
Brianna Franco


On September 10th, 2019, Q13 Fox News aired a segment where they visited the detention center located in Tacoma. It was clear it was a publicity stunt. ICE’s main concern was to dispel the “rumors, myths, and misconceptions” of the facility. There were 13 journalist allowed inside, to see how the facility runs “day to day,” from intake, to medical care, and food. “While the tour certainly was a rare glimpse inside an ICE detention center, the purpose behind the tour is perhaps a more important story,” said QFOX13 News reporter, Brandi Kruse.

Have these institutions
become so institutionalized
that they will never see they
are their own problem?
When did it become about
the good name of the institution
and not about the people
it’s supposed to help?

“Now more than ever, it is absolutely imperative that we have this opportunity to provide transparency to you all as the media to help us tell our true story,” said Natalie Asher, Seattle Field Officer for Enforcement and Removal Operations. Brandi Kruse continues,” [Natalie Asher] makes it clear that ICE is hoping to combat what they perceive as misinformation about their mission.” Even before the tour began, a spokesperson from ICE sent the media an information sheet, containing their designed counternarratives to criticism of their policies and ‘raids’. ICE claims that the use of the word raid is “fear mongering,” “Something that is open to debate,” says Brandi Kruse.

Brandi asked another unnamed ICE spokesperson, “So is that a matter of fact or opinion?”, referring to the raids, and the question was ignored. Instead, they replied,” Well — so here’s the thing — we don’t do raids, the public likes to use the word raid, a raid by definition would be us just randomly running in somewhere saying ‘who here is not here legally?’, right, that’s not what we do, it is absolutely a targeted force of action.” This part of the segment quickly faded that last statement out and transitioned into another scene.

They also sent out photos before the site visit of their dental and medical examination rooms, spotless and neat, day areas also being spotless with flat screen TVs, and spaces for recreation (displaying an image of a small soccer field). At about a minute and fifty-three seconds, it is back to Natalie Asher, stating, “Look for yourself, we run this facility well.” This is where it gets interesting: at two minutes and three seconds, the camera is still on Natalie Asher, but there is what appears to be a male voice rising in the background, a detainee, trying to shout something over what she is trying to say, clearly throwing her speech off. This scene only lasted about 15 seconds, but it speaks volumes, there is still something here to protest.

The video addresses that the facility “has never been used to house children, nor has it been overcrowded. A contrast to facilities along the southern border, where images of children in detention, and severe overcrowding have fanned an already fiery national debate.”

It is apparent in this segment that it is more so about saving face, than it is about showing true colors, a narrative that is all too familiar to us with lived experience. Have these institutions become so institutionalized that they will never see they are their own problem? When did it become about the good name of the institution and not about the people it’s supposed to help?

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