We Contain Multitudes (or: “Give Us Your Wretched”)

I got two or three memos in my inbox today, depending on how you count them.

Memos 1 and 2 came from the Office of Mission Integration and Campus Ministry, with the request that we encourage our students to participate in their upcoming events, expressing support for illegal immigrants currently detained and awaiting deportation:

Sr. Antonelle Chunka will be in the Cafeteria in Obal Hall on Monday, February 12 at 1 pm, to discuss the ministry to immigrants in the Elizabeth, NJ detention center. Sister was part of the John Paul II Lecture Panel on Undocumented Immigration we held here at Felician last Spring.

All are welcome.


February 14: Join Campus Ministry and First Friends of New Jersey as we hold vigil outside the Elizabeth Detention Center in solidarity for those being detained due to their immigration status.

We will gather at the Rutherford Campus, first floor of Education Commons building at 4:45 pm and leave campus by 5:00 pm. Vigil begins outside the Elizabeth Detention Center at 6:00 pm.

Memo 3 came from the Dean of Students, with the request that we encourage our students to participate in an upcoming webinar on the many career paths available to officers in federal law enforcement, notably careers involving the detention and deportation of illegal immigrants:

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Women in Law Enforcement Webinar
Hosted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
When: Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Time: 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. EST
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) invites you to participate in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Women in Law Enforcement Webinar from 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 28.

In partnership with the DHS Office of Academic Engagement, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will host a webinar for college and university student and recent graduate women interested in pursuing a law enforcement career at ICE. This webinar will feature a panel of female special agents and deportation officers who will share their experiences in law enforcement and career paths at ICE. In addition, human resource officials will explain the federal application process and highlight ICE career pathways for students and recent graduates.

This event is free for all participants. To register for the event, please make sure to visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ICEWomeninLEWebinar. As space is limited, it is recommended you register soon. More information regarding this webinar opportunity will continue to be shared with stakeholders and potential participants. Email AcademicEngagement@hq.dhs.gov should you have any questions regarding participation in the event.

On receiving this email, someone sent me a link to Cardinal Tobin’s recent statement on immigration reform. That, in turn, reminded me of the University President’s recent statement on DACA. Then I opened Facebook and discovered that my friend Rabbi Elliott Tepperman had been arrested (along with several colleagues) at a protest on DACA the other day.

Whew. A lot to process, but there’s no real contradiction here, right? For one thing, all three events are taking place on different days. And surely there’s a division of labor to be had between different types of activity and commitment: obviously, some of our students can protest detention and deportation, while others can engage in it. And I suppose a university need not take a single institutional stand on the morality of federal law enforcement or deportation proceedings: it can equally support and promote the activities of those who protest them, and those who seek careers engaging in them.

Actually, as my title intimates, Walt Whitman put things nicely in “Song of Myself“:

What blurt is this about virtue and vice?
Evil propels me, and reform of evil propels me, I stand indifferent,
My gait is no fault-finder’s or rejecter’s gait,
I moisten the roots of all that has grown.

That, presumably, is not just a characteristically Whitmanesque effusion, but a poetic description of the proper “uses of the university.” Right?

I’m curious what readers think about a University Pre-Law Advisor’s professional responsibility to students seeking careers as federal deportation officers when the Advisor has decidedly mixed feelings on the legitimacy of the endeavor.

Just another day at the office. Back to work!

Some photos from the vigil at ICE’s “Elizabeth Contract Detention Facility,” and St Joseph’s Social Service Center, Elizabeth, New Jersey. February 14, 2018 with First Friends of NJ and NY, and Felician University Campus Ministry.

17 thoughts on “We Contain Multitudes (or: “Give Us Your Wretched”)

  1. Alas, one set of “stakeholders” is bound to be left off the recipient line of an email like this one–but on the bright side, at least they can follow ICE on social media.

    Good Afternoon,

    I hope that 2018 is off to a great start for all of you. Over the past year I have spoken with many of you over the phone, through email, or even given presentations on your campuses. I wanted to reach out and let you know that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will host a webinar on February 28th from 4:00pm – 5:00pm entitled, “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Women in Law Enforcement Webinar”. This webinar will feature a panel of female special agents and deportation officers who will share their experiences in law enforcement and career paths at ICE. In addition, human resource officials will explain the federal application process and highlight ICE career pathways for students and recent graduates.

    I have attached a PDF with all important information, and most important, the link to register. I thought that may help if you are looking to put out an email blast to students through your career services department. If you have any questions, please feel free contact me. As always, for all of the latest job announcements, please visit http://www.USAJobs.gov .


    Chris Moriarty
    Community Relations Officer
    Stakeholder Engagement
    U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
    973-776-3251 office | 973-536-8996 cell

    Follow ICE
    Facebook IconTwitter IconRSS IconInstagram Icon


  2. Critics of higher education, like Charles Murray and Bryan Caplan (among many others), complain that higher education is, or has become, a wasteful irrelevancy. We professors–especially in the humanities and soft social sciences–are fundamentally out of touch with reality, offering wildly irrational, impractical courses steeped in the post-modern rejection of reason and the market. And as someone with roots in philosophy and psychology, what can I do but plead guilty to all of that?

    Reflecting on Chris Moriarty’s email above, however, I see a fix and a means of redemption, or at least, restitution: why not outfit my students for “career pathways” at ICE?

    For instance, we might read Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, valorizing Javert rather than Jean Valjean, to drive home the lesson that the law is the law, and must be enforced regardless of non-legal considerations:


    And think of what we could do with Billy Budd!

    Or we might read Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem, with attention to how Eichmann’s cool indifference to the welfare of his deportees might be a useful job qualification for anyone having to deport someone here at home:


    Actually, Nazi Germany is a useful touchstone for other aspects of the job–for instance, why citizens ought always to keep their papers with them, and demonstrate a willingness to produce them when ordered, to prove their status as citizens.


    Papers, please!

    And I’m sure Machiavelli’s Prince might come in handy in the field, when the occasion calls for having “a mind so disposed” that when it is needful to lie your ass off directly on camera, you may be able to do so (Prince, ch. 18):

    We’re not so irrelevant after all!


  3. Two last thoughts on this for now, from this article:


    New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, and Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale, Reformed Church of Highland Park, NJ:

    “We obviously have to put our heads together and figure this out,” Murphy told a crowd gathered at the church.

    “It’s not our country, it’s not our values, it’s not the country you came to to escape persecution,” he later said.

    Kaper-Dale said everybody in the community was terrified of the U.S. immigration policy.

    “We can’t believe ICE would make the choice to destroy communities in that way,” he said. “We’re here to highlight the injustice of the Donald Trump administration, which is the most horrific administration anyone could imagine.”

    ICE spokesman:

    “During a targeted enforcement operation today, ICE arrested two foreign nationals in Franklin Park and Metuchen,” ICE spokesman Emilio Dabul said. “These individuals have an order of removal from the United States issued by an immigration judge and upheld by the Board of Immigration Appeals.”

    Dabul said all enforcement actions “are a part of routine, daily targeted operations conducted by ICE around the country targeting criminal aliens and other immigration violators who are in the U.S. in violation of federal law,” adding that ICE “does not target individuals based on religion, ethnicity, gender or race. Any suggestion to the contrary is patently false.”


    • In case you were wondering about just who you’d be working for if you got a job with ICE, whether they had ideological proclivities of any kind, and whether their ideological proclivities could conceivably affect their conception of law enforcement:

      Because anti-Trump FBI agents are a (y)huge problem, but obviously, pro-Israeli ICE agents associated with tendentious right-wing outfits, are not.


  4. A passage from a piece by Jacob Levy that’s making the rounds, “The Weight of Words.” I agree with the general point Levy is making, but this one is particularly relevant to what’s going on at ICE:

    By discouraging professionals and encouraging politicization, Trump is already changing the civil service by his speech.

    The great exception, the federal employees who hear the message that they are very highly valued, are immigration and border enforcers. (State and local police get the same kind of treatment, unlike the FBI.) In Trump’s first year, formal immigration policy changed much less than public rhetoric did, partly because a great deal of the policy is statutory, partly because Trump’s executive orders spent most of the year unenforced thanks to the courts. But immigration enforcement is a domain in which there’s a lot of discretion on the ground: who is kept out, who has to disclose how much information in order to get in (e.g. cell phone PINs, social media passwords), and, especially, what employers and neighborhoods are raided, who is rounded up, who is deported. Trump’s demonization of immigrants and celebration of ICE change policy de facto. Trump’s words have sent the message of “anything goes” to ICE and “you should be scared” to those who might be vulnerable to ICE. Both messages have been heard. ICE has become so aggressive in its tactics that a federal judge described it as “treatment we associate with regimes we revile as unjust, regimes where those who have long lived in a country may be taken without notice from streets, home, and work. And sent away.”

    The links didn’t come through in my cut-and-paste above, but there are links to four articles on ICE well worth reading in the original version of Levy’s article:



  5. This story contains more than its fair share of ironies:

    A former top lawyer for Immigration and Customs Enforcement pleaded guilty on Thursday to stealing the identities of seven people in deportation proceedings and buying more than $190,000 in goods under their names, the federal authorities said.

    The former lawyer, Raphael A. Sanchez, used his position as the ICE chief counsel for immigration proceedings in several Western states to gain access to the victims’ personal information in federal databases, including their immigration records. Using those records, Mr. Sanchez created fake Social Security cards, driver’s licenses and utility bills to open credit card and bank accounts in their names, the authorities said.

    The Dept of Justice regards the outcome as a win:

    “At the top of ICE’s core values is integrity, with an expectation that our employees adhere to the highest standards of honesty and professional conduct,” said Deputy Director Homan. “While I am appalled by these egregious, independent acts of criminal misconduct by Mr. Sanchez, I am grateful to the men and women of ICE who do their job with the utmost professionalism every day, including those in the Seattle Office of Chief Counsel, who I’m confident will continue to accomplish their mission with integrity and dedication, and our agents in the ICE Office of Professional Responsibility, who investigated this case and presented it for successful prosecution.”

    Never mind that he was near the top of ICE’s legal hierarchy, invested with immense power and authority, and spent four years in the commission of his fraud. No word on how things like this happen in the first place.

    This ex post facto rationalization has the ring of familiarity about it:

    “Raphael Sanchez is a good person who has made serious mistakes in violation of the law,” Ms. Stamm said in an email. “Mr. Sanchez looks forward to fully repaying all those affected by his crimes.”

    That makes him sound like a victim of akrasia. It also makes him sound like a lot of undocumented immigrants.

    But condign justice is served:

    As part of his plea agreement, Mr. Sanchez is expected to receive a sentence of 48 months in prison, Ms. Stamm said. Mr. Sanchez resigned from his federal position on Monday.

    Four years may sound like a long time, and I guess it is. Here’s how it stacks up against the time spent by detainees.

    Click to access prolonged_detention_fact_sheet.pdf


    Assuming Sanchez serves the whole of his sentence (and who knows whether he will), he’ll have spent more time in prison than most (but not all) detainees spend in detention. Of course, one reason for the brevity of a detention is that the detainee is deported. When Sanchez gets out, by contrast, he’ll return to his home country.


  6. More useful reading material on ICE:

    “How ICE Works to Strip Citizenship from Naturalized Americans,” The Intercept:

    “NY Teamsters Form Sanctuary Union to Fight ICE Agents,” New York Daily News:

    “Abolish ICE Now,” Reason:


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  8. Just got out of the webinar mentioned in the original post, with ICE’s Office of Academic Engagement, designed to recruit college students into “exciting career paths” in “enforcement and removal operations” (EROs). This one was specifically on career pathways for women, featuring several attractive, ethnically diverse women in their 30s, doing what they can to balance career, family, and removal operations–blathering on for an hour, more or less about nothing.

    Like what? Well, you, too, “can be part of the elite.” ICE’s $6 billion budget, and the 400 statutes at its command, will make your workday “more interesting,” enabling you to be more “well-rounded,” and “give back” to your community (or at least, to the parts of it that remain after you’ve “removed” them). And so on, ad nauseum.

    There was a vigorous Q&A period. The questions asked:

    1. What is the best part of your job?
    2. What degree is best to earn as a candidate for the job?
    3. What should I do to prepare for the hiring process?
    4. What are the challenges that women face in law enforcement?
    5. What’s it like to work in a predominantly male environment?
    6. What kind of networking should I do to become a better candidate?
    7. What (addressed to the panelists) were your majors in college?
    8. What do you do in an average day. (Answer: there is no “average day.”)
    9. How much time do you have to spend away from home?
    10. How do you manage to find a balance between work and family?

    In other words, what we have here is a dash of diluted third wave feminism, a half-cup of co-opted multiculturalism, a bit of business school banality, and a spoonful of standard-issue law enforcement bravado, all in the service of mass deportation, and designed for college students desperate to land a job after they graduate. I wonder how many of my students could see through the apolitical snake oil of this presentation, and grasp what it was really about: mass deportation with a human face.

    All in a day’s work–but it’s quitting time. Excuse me while I go home, take a shower, and settle in for a comfy evening of quiet reading. I have a hankering tonight for a bit of Arendt: a couple of hours with Eichmann in Jerusalem would sure hit the spot.


  9. Further tales of misery and woe from ICE’s (and related agencys’) never-ending quest to promote “smart immigration enforcement, preventing terrorism and combating the illegal movement of people and trade.”

    Who’s being targeted, at least in New Jersey?

    When it comes to deportation, you don’t have to be an immigrant to come under legal scrutiny:

    Is it now “obstruction of justice” to alert passing motorists of a speed trap ahead? Should every accountant who devises an ingenious (but arguably legal) tax shelter for his client go to prison? And how much extra danger was created by foreknowledge of “enforcement and removal” proceedings if the main consequence was to induce the targets to flee?

    The assumption here seems to be that all targets of “EROs” are dangerous criminals. But some of these “illegals” are indistinguishable from the kind of taxpayer who makes a mistake on his tax returns. In the latter case, we insist on procedures that involve forewarning (rather than, say, immediate imprisonment or financial penalties) despite the risk that doing so might induce this or that taxpayer to clean up malfeasances that might otherwise have been prosecuted. How many of the people demanding draconian treatment of “illegal immigrants” would accept comparable treatment of everyone out of compliance with tax law, the drug laws (cf. opioids), or traffic law?

    When all else fails, let them eat maggots:

    And get used to eating those maggots, because you may be detained awhile:


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